Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Would you have helped Nigella?

Everyone's been pretty shocked by the photos of Charles Saatchi's assault on Nigella Lawson for which he has now received a Police caution.

Just out of interest, I looked up the criteria for giving a caution and the procedures for doing so on the Ministry of Justice website. It appears that domestic assault is not normally the sort of offence considered appropriate for a simple caution:
Positive action is recommended in cases of domestic violence and abuse to ensure the safety and protection of victims and children while allowing the Criminal Justice System to hold the offender to account. Domestic violence and abuse cases often involve a number of incidents prior to reporting to the police. A positive action approach considers the incident in its entirety and should focus investigative efforts on gathering sufficient evidence to be able to build a prosecution case that does not rely entirely on the victim’s statement. Police and prosecutors should refer to the ACPO/CPS Charging checklist3 to help secure evidence-based prosecutions which are not solely victim reliant.
The next paragraph may offer a clue as to why a caution was given in this circumstance:
 However, where a positive action policy has been adhered to but the victim does not support a prosecution and the available evidence (including any additional evidence adduced) would only disclose a very minor offence a simple caution can be considered in preference to a decision to take no further action.
This is obviously a very difficult time for Nigella and she should be subject to no criticism whatsoever for any decisions she makes or doesn't make in relation to this. The fault lies entirely with Charles Saatchi. It's to be hoped that having to sign a bit of paper admitting his guilt in front of a Police Officer will teach him a lesson.

I'm not his biggest fan, it's fair to say. Nigella once famously said that he preferred a bowl of cereal to her cooking. If he's said that to her, even privately, it's a bit demeaning, to be honest. If you have a spouse who's achieved a great deal in their field, you would surely be really proud of them, wouldn't you? Such an attitude seems quite belittling of someone who's made millions from her unique and slightly salacious style of cookery programme.

One thing that's been vexing many is that nobody went to help Nigella on the night. Had I been there, I'd have intervened if I'd seen anyone put their hands round someone else's throat, especially if that other person looked distressed. And if I had taken any pictures, I'd have sent them to the Police, not a downmarket Sunday scandal rag.

Yesterday I asked on Twitter if anyone had ever intervened in a case of domestic assault. I had 11 replies, not bad for a quick tweet in the middle of the afternoon, from people who had either got directly involved or who had called the Police, including one from someone who had tried to stop a hammer attack on a family. Thankfully everybody was ok in that instance.

I've never had to intervene between spouses, but I have done so when I've seen parents behave really unpleasantly towards their children, giving them verbal abuse or pushing them around. There is never, and I mean never, any circumstance when it's justified to scream at your child, calling them a "wee f***ing s***e. Once I saw a mum push a shopping trolley really viciously at a boy of about 8. In both instances I got abuse from the parents but at least their anger was focused on me, not the child.

Alecia Simmonds has put forward her ideas as to why nobody helped Nigella. She said:
The reason, I think, is not that the 70 year old Saatchi posed such a hulking physical threat. It is simply because what they saw would normally have taken place behind closed doors, in a domestic setting where law, for most of our history, has refused to enter. Thanks to years of feminist campaigning domestic violence legislation has relatively recently sought to challenge the idea that these incidences are ‘just another domestic’ and to end the violent tyranny too many men wield over their partners. Yet for all our legal reforms, the Nigella incident proves that domestic violence is still considered a private matter between husband and wife. Domestic violence is simply not taken as seriously by our society as other crimes.
 I think she might have a point. At least the legislative protections are there victims of domestic violence, but our attitude towards it needs to catch up.

Another article I read today showed, though, that there are some men who have no issue with treating women as equals. In the Brisbane Times, John Birmingham writes about the monumental misogyny of the last week and calls upon the decent men of this world to stand with women against this nonsense:
Because the truth is the world is not solely populated by misogynists and homophobes and embittered, deeply stupid and potentially violent males. It’s also full of calmer, gentler, more intelligent and wiser men who know better than these fools and who are perfectly capable of standing them down. Men who want better for women because so many of the people they care most about in the world are women.
Where are these blokes when a man puts his hands around a woman’s neck and starts to squeeze? Where are they when some idiot demeans and disrespects a prime minister, not because of what she’s done, but because of what she is? Where are you guys? Because if you just stepped up and said no at the very moment that it's happening, not later, but right then and there, some of this wretched dickishness might finally die out.
Birmingham's view echoes that of Helena Morrissey when she said that it can't just be women calling for better representation within the party - men have to take ownership of the issues we've had as well. 

I hadn't, by the way, been aware of the goings on in the Australian army where emails depicting demeaning images of female officers  have been doing the rounds. That's appalling in an environment where you have to be able to trust your colleagues 100%. The army chief Lt General David Morrison certainly let the perpetrators have it. 

The attitudes prevalent around these issues shows that there is still a long way to go before men and women achieve true equality. What would you do if you saw someone upset by the violent behaviour of a partner while you were out and about?

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails