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Monday
Dec072009

Breaking taboos about violence

Letter to the Sydney Morning Herald.

The letter from Lesley Laing (December 3) highlights cultural taboos about recognising violence by women. Don Weatherburn correctly pointed out that males are a significant proportion of domestic homicide victims (including intimate partner homicides by women), and any review that ignores this, as proposed by Laing, will be at best incomplete.

Laing's claim that the intent of the review is to “save the lives of women and children” implies children are murdered mostly by men in domestic situations. Australian Institute of Criminology data shows mothers are twice as likely as fathers to kill a child.

If the review is indeed intended to save the lives of women and children - and also those men whom Laing disregards - it must consider female as well as male perpetrators, and not be held hostage by entrenched gender interest groups with an axe to grind. Weatherburn cautioned against attempting to limit the focus of the review to specific sub-groups. Laing's letter shows why such caution is needed.

Michael Woods, Senior lecturer, school of biomedical and health sciences, University of Western Sydney

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