Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Nothing Like a Dame - No, really, nothing at all like one

In my interview to become a Magistrate, I was asked whether an assault by a man on a woman should be sentenced differently to an assault by a woman on a man. Instead of coming out with the answer I suspected they wanted, I actually said what I believed at the time.

Suspected Model Answer

"Heaven forbid ! An assault is an assault and all should be treated alike"

Actual Answer

"An attack by a strong person on a weak person is an abuse of power and the weaker person deserves some extra protection from the law".

I didn't say this was always the case with man-on-woman violence (could be big woman - little guy) and I pointed out that some relationships are same-sex and that I would have the same opinion if a big guy was knocking lumps out of his smaller male partner.

I did end up passing the interview, but knowing what I know now - what an idiotic argument. Just because someone is physically bigger, does the law give them an extra responsibility ?

I blame my upbringing - it really didn't prepare me for some of the women I've seen from the bench recently :-

Ms A - is longterm unemployed in her 30s, but looks more like 55. Alcohol and Class A drug history, with some thieving and prostitution to pay the bills. New boyfriend is a perfect match for her, except that sometimes she thinks he's stealing her drugs and she beats him, sometimes with the crutch he got the last time he "fell down the stairs".

Ms B - is a scientist in her 50s. She had an almost cartoonishly bad divorce last year from her ex, who is a respected doctor. She hates him. To the point where she closed the front door on his head and kicked him in the babymakers when he came round to talk about custody arrangements.

Ms C - is 20 and pregnant by a man twice her age and half her IQ. He's a big bloke, but with not a bit of violence in him. She likes to drink and when she does she falls out with him and attacks. I've seen the pictures of bruises and the marks made by her nails. He took this for years and stayed quiet until eventually his mother made a complaint to the police.

I'm not sure what the moral of this tale is. Mostly that anyone who makes simplistic statements about domestic violence is an idiot. Or a Daily Mail journalist. Most likely both.

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