Domestic violence not caused by “bad weather”

Originally published at Women’s Views on News.

A women’s charity has dismissed police claims that bad weather may be to blame for a dramatic increase in incidents of domestic violence.

Eaves, a London-based charity that supports victims of violence against women, described the police’s suggestion as, “nothing more than an appealing get out clause for an unpopular, poorly understood issue at a time of cuts.”

The comments, made by police in the Devon town of Sidmouth last week, were picked up by The Daily Telegraph and The Daily Mail after being reported in the local press.

According to the Sidmouth Herald, local police said “miserable conditions” led to a rise in domestic abuse in the year to August 2012 because “people get cabin fever locked in a house together”.

Heather Harvey, Research and Development manager at Eaves, said: “It is most concerning that those we are supposed to turn to for justice and protection seem unable to distinguish possible exacerbating or triggering factors from the actual cause of violence against women.”

Harvey added: “If you choose to use violence against your partner or family member to get what you want, to enforce compliance, to punish, or to assert your power and superiority then you will do so in any and all weathers.”

“Domestic violence is not caused by weather conditions or by poverty, drink or depression any more than rape is caused by short skirts, drink or the quality of street lighting,”

Indeed, the suggestion is in stark contrast to the apparently “definitive” (but unreferenced) claims reported by Examiner in July 2010 that, “hot weather increases domestic violence incidents.”

Neither the Daily Telegraph nor the Daily Mail included the perspective of an expert on violence against women in their coverage, although both reported Stuart Hughes, chairman of Sidmouth council, disputing the claims.

“It seemed a strange thing to blame a rise in domestic violence on the weather,” Mr Hughes said. “I know the weather gets blamed for a lot of things but this is a new one on me. I would question whether that is the case.”

Statistics show that 1 in 4 women in the UK experience domestic violence in their lifetime, one incident of domestic violence is reported to the police every minute, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner.

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