Domestic Abuse As Entertainment On This Morning

18/10/2016 17:12
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Tuesday's ITV This Morning programme, hosted by Phillip Schofield and Christine Lampard, featured an item on domestic revenge, encouraging viewers to ring in and tell them how they got revenge on their partners.

Only women seemed to phone in about revenge on male partners - and this revenge was justified in a couple of cases by explaining that their partner had simply ended the relationship - something that anyone of either gender is surely entitled to do.

In some of these cases the women caused their partners, or former partners, to consume mustard, cat food, urine, chilli and laxatives. How we laughed!

If these acts were committed by men on women they would most likely be seen as committing acts of domestic abuse - especially since feeding someone obnoxious and unpleasant things could be against the Offences Against The Persons Act 1861 - still current law, as below:

"Whosoever shall unlawfully and maliciously administer or cause to be administered to or be taken by any other person any poison or other destructive or noxious thing, with intent to injure, aggrieve, or annoy any such person, shall be guilty of [an offence]."

The maximum penalty for an offence under section 23 is ten years' imprisonment, for an offence under section 24, five years'.

One caller admitted that her partner had a "dodgy stomach" the next day. which seemed to please both the presenters and the caller.

One woman agreed with the presenters that her partner would not behave the same way since she cut up all his clothes and they had got back together. Nice bit of domestic controlling behaviour by the caller.

The two presenters laughed along with the callers and seemed to admire their capacity for revenge and were clearly encouraging the behaviour - even though Mr Schofield made a disingenuous sounding statement at the end about not condoning these acts. It was clearly an item meant to be amusing to what I imagine is a largely female audience.

Of course - even though you can get ten years in prison for doing these acts I doubt any of these ladies would get much more than a caution or a fine in all the circumstance if it came to being reported as a crime - but it is the hypocrisy and double standards around domestic abuse and violence that is most marked here.

Given that there are now laws about domestic 'controlling behaviour' - mostly advertised as being about controlling behaviour of men - it is the height of hypocrisy for a mainstream programme to make light of controlling and abusive or potentially criminal behaviour just because it features women doing the acts aimed at men.

Domestic violence and abuse happens to both men and women, even though women suffer more of it and worse acts of violence. Too many women suffer domestic violence and abuse and don't get the support they deserve - but it also happens to men but it seems that when men are victims it is acceptable to have a good laugh about it on mainstream TV.

I suspect that male victims of domestic abuse find it harder to report and - I think - are more likely to be arrested by police even where violence may have been initiated by female partners and where the man was simply defending himself. This was the case when I was a police officer and I doubt it has changed much since.

Having a good laugh about abuse by women on men on mainstream TV just for entertainment is not going to help.

Almost all of us would condemn anyone having a good laugh about men abusing women and the same standard should apply to women abusing their partners or former partners.