Posted by: Kirsty | December 22, 2008

Domestic violence and the recession

In the Guardian on Saturday there was a really interesting interview with Baroness Scotland, who in 2007 became the first black female attorney general.

In it she states that she believes that domestic violence will increase as the recession takes hold:

“When families go through difficulties, if someone loses their job, or they have financial problems, it can escalate stress, and lead to alcohol or drug abuse. Quite often violence can flow from that.”

Scotland is also adamant that domestic violence is an economic issue, “In the future what the real wealth of all our nations is going to depend on is the talent, ability and skills of our people,” she says. “Domestic violence is a ‘disabler’ of that talent. In all areas of dysfunction there is an overrepresentation of children who have grown up in domestic violence situations. They are less likely to thrive. If we don’t remove this depressant on our ability, then our opportunity to compete on the global stage is going to be diminished.”

It’s a vicious circle, she says – some of the blame for the recession itself can be attributed to the lack of gender balance in the financial sector. “It’s been really interesting during the credit crunch to look at the businesses which have the advantage of a male-female leadership, and whether those businesses have taken inappropriate, or appropriate risks,” she says. “The data indicates that where you’ve got that gender balance, the risk-taking has been sound and much more proportionate.”

But, Scotland says, the focus needs to shift away from domestic violence as a problem affecting only the poor or obviously dysfunctional. She tells the story of how, on a trip to Paris to discuss domestic violence with the French government, she and two other women from the French ministry were talking to a journalist. “We were saying how one in four women are affected by domestic violence, which means it could have been one of us,” she says. “And at the end of the interview the journalist said, ‘Yes, you’re right – it’s me.’

“The more advantaged the person, the less likely they are to disclose that they are being abused because of the lack of sense of worth that gives them. For a managing director, or a surgeon, to tell somebody they are being beaten by their partner is a very lowering thing.”

You can read the rest of the interview here.



  1. This very interesting article really proves that we haven’t come that far since the 19th century. It was only when Frances Power Cobbe highlighted the fact that wife beating wasn’t purely the preserve of the “savage” classes that it was actually outlawed. For some reason, such issues become serious only when they affect the middle classes. Mind you, the Government can’t really take the moral highground on unjustified acts of violence. As Baroness Scotland suggests, redressing the gender imbalance in all areas of life is part of the solution.


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