Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

The Scapegoating of Amanda Hutton

UK's malestream media has avidly sensationalised the trial of Amanda Hutton who has just been convicted of manslaughter by gross neglect whereby she deliberately starved her 4 year old son to death.

Malestream media printed graphic details of Amanda Hutton's supposedly 'sordid lifestyle' because not only is she addicted to drugs and alcohol but she supposedly made the informed decision to starve her son to death. The fact Ms. Hutton was subjected to physical violence by her ex male partner Aftab Khan, who was subsequently convicted of assaulting Ms. Hutton, was conveniently ignored by malestream media. This case was an ideal one in malestream's endless propaganda war on women, because the female defendant was supposedly epitome of everything 'bad' about women. Ms. Hutton's life was chaotic because she is drug and alcohol dependent; her home was squalid; she deliberately neglected her child; she had left her male partner and she deliberately allowed her child to die!

Now that she has been convicted, Bradford Council swiftly claimed they had done all they could to protect this child and local Social Services too claim they too did everything they could to protect Hamzah. Likewise local police claimed they weren't to blame because they claim Ms. Hutton was 'an obstructive woman who refused offers of help and went to great lengths to conceal Hamzah's death in December, 2009.'

Yet it is well known women who live chaotic lives are not 'angels' and will commonly hide/deny their reality. The police's claim Ms. Hutton was 'obstructive' means Ms. Hutton did not enact appropriate submissive behaviour whereby she should have meekly submitted to whatever the police demanded. Social Service frontline staff are supposed to have an understanding of the complexities of how and why many mothers deny they have 'problems' and view Social Workers as attempting to control them and/or remove their children on false pretenses. This is not to absolve Ms. Hutton of any accountability but she alone was not responsible for death of her child.

Detective Superintendent Lisa Griffin demonises Ms. Hutton because contrary to Griffin's claims not all women are able to raise their children without the support and help of Social Services. Ms. Hutton's drug and alcohol addiction are not separate issues since she was also subjected to systemic male violence by Khan. But the Crown Prosecutor claimed the fact Ms. Hutton had been subjected to systemic male violence from her former male partner, Aftab Khan was 'irrelevant.' Issue of intimate male partner violence against a woman supposedly has no impact whatsoever on a woman's ability to care for her child/children.

We now learn that Ms. Hutton was the subject of a number of multi-agency meetings, (this means Social Services, Bradford Child Protection Agency and local police were all present) but no action was taken!

The Guardian's report of Ms. Hutton's conviction makes this ludicrous claim: 'Police were called when she ended up with a black eye after an argument in the street with Khan, with whom she had begun a relationship around 10 years earlier.' Somehow Ms. Hutton 'ended up with a black eye' but we don't know who inflicted this upon Ms. Hutton. Perpetrator Khan's actions are neatly invisibilised because Guardian claims it was just an 'argument' which is not the same as 'Khan subjected Ms. Hutton to physical violence resulting in him hitting her in the face and causing injury to tissue surrounding her eye!'

Malestream media reports that 'No doctors saw Hamzah (Ms. Hutton's child) from when he was two weeks old and Hutton slammed the door in the face of visiting health workers - when she bothered to answer the door at all.' This is women-blaming and one wonders how malestream media knew when and if Hutton 'bothered to answer the door!' Perhaps malestream media has a 'magic crystal ball' whereby they can access the minute everyday details of Ms. Hutton's life! Purpose of this nasty women-blaming sentence is to portray Ms. Hutton as 'epitome of female monstrosity' as opposed to the male created 'mythical ideal mother!'

Glossed over is the fact Ms. Hutton's General Practitioner removed her from his patient list, because Ms. Hutton failed to attend a number of
appointments in respect of her child Hamzah. The practice of removing mothers from GP lists is not an isolated incident but is common practice. However, it is well known within Social Services that children not attending routine medical appointments is often an indication the mother is trying to hide something concerning child's welfare. Furthermore Bradford Education authority also failed to notice that Hamzah whilst of school age had not attended any school.

During Ms. Hutton's trial the court head about a welfare check undertaken by PC Maria Furness, eight months prior to Hamzah's death. According to PC Furness, upon gaining access to Ms. Hutton's home she found all Ms. Hutton's children, including Hamzah 'to be fed well, clean, healthy looking and there was an appropriate adult in the address.' Yet court learned Hamzah had been systematically starved for many months so clearly there is a contradiction in evidence.

The list of systemic failures by Social Services, police, Bradford Education Authority and Ms. Hutton's GP are all glossed over because the scapegoat is Ms. Hutton - she alone is supposedly responsible for causing her son Hamzah's death by starvation.

As usual women are blamed for not ensuring the safety and well-being of their child/children. One wonders why we have institutions such as Social Services; police forces and Child Protection Institutions given it is women's responsibility alone to ensure their child/children is accorded care and well-being!! As Detective Superintendent Lisa Griffin said: 'ultimately the responsibility for care and welfare of the child in that household lay very firmly with Amanda Hutton and it was her responsibility and hers alone, to ensure that all their basic needs were met... Clearly she failed in that!' Well that absolves police, Social Services and Bradford Local Authority of accountability because Ms. Hutton alone is to blame for death of Hamzah!

Interesting that father of Hamzah Aftab Khan is not held accountable for failing in his 'father's duty of care!' One wonders why Khan didn't do more to pressurise Social Services to take action, given he allegedly was concerned about well being of his son, Hamzah. But then fathers are never held to the same impossible standard as mothers are.

Doubtless there will be an in-depth report published in due course claiming authorities were not responsible but that 'lessons have been learned,' but this claim is meaningless because children and women continue to be denied real help and support from those institutions/agencies supposedly created to help them.

I have no doubt questions will not be asked concerning why frontline Social Workers are expected to manage too many cases without any additional support. Why there is no legislation permitting Social Workers to use Police in order to gain entry to homes when they strongly suspect a mother/father is neglecting their child/children. Questions will also not be asked as to why front line staff are commonly blamed when the real blame lies with continued failure and/or refusal of multi-agencies to communicate with each other and act collectively.

Equally interesting is the fact whenever a father decides to cold bloodedly murder his biological children he commonly claims 'depression/unemployment/wife's infidelity/alcohol/drug addiction caused him to commit murder.' These claims are then accepted in mitigation but women continue to be held to impossible standards or rather it is the same old, same old misogynistic lies. Women are responsible for all mens' ills!

All of the above evidence was obtained via reading reports from the UK's Independent and Guardian because both these newspapers only partially reported all the facts and this is common practice within malestream media. Selective reporting ensures continuation of 'fragmentation' whereby the truth can be conveniently distorted to maintain a specific male supremacist agenda.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/hamzah-khan-death-amanda-hutton-faces-sentencing-for-starving-fouryearold-son-to-death-8856841.html

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/oct/03/hamzah-khan-starved-to-death-amanda-hutton

Download this post as PDF? Click here Download PDF

, , , , , , , , ,

Comments are currently closed.

13 thoughts on “The Scapegoating of Amanda Hutton

  • l says:

    If we suggest that her responsibility for abusing a child is mitigated by having been abused by her husband, we then fall into the same trap as those who excuse sexual abusers on the grounds that someone once assaulted them. It’s the same logic that Victoria Coren tried to use to mitigate the guilt of Roman Polanski, and that attitude is being (rightly) castigated all over this site.

  • Emma says:

    Interesting view, but I share the one already expressed in the comment above that using the abuse she suffered as mitigation and an excuse for the lethal neglect she afforded her son is a problematic path to tread.

    Ultimately, Amanda Hutton IS the sole party responsible for the death of Hamzah. She and she alone was the person whose every action could have made for a very different outcome for him, given that she was the sole carer for him at the time of his death. Could other people have prevented him from being starved to death? Very possible. I don’t see anywhere that Children’s Services/Police are being absolved from their part in Hamzah’s death, but they were not the parties who starved him to death. The serious case review will no doubt in painstaking detail, outline the professional failings around this poor child’s tragic death.

    The father’s role is an issue I agree with you on, especially when he is now crowing to the media about how he asked agencies to help his child. The SCR will either highlight that or trash it, but he could have actually done something himself, other than the absolute nothing he is more likely to have done.

    Legislation for social workers to enter homes already exists, by way of rarely-used assessment orders, however if they have yet to identify a problem outside of “this woman won’t engage” they are unlikely to apply for such an order anyway. Using the Police as a back-door method to do so is unethical, contrary to the spirit of the Children Act and again, unlikely to be actioned, if there has not been identifiable concerns noted by professionals.

    I really struggle to agree with the part of your argument about women being held to impossible standards. Expecting a parent not to starve their young child to death should be a universal expectation. Whether it was a male or female parent doing this to a child, the vilification would be across the board. People who abuse or kill children in their care often attempt to explain it away through other people’s failings, however it is rarely accepted as an excuse.

  • I says:

    In a way the worst of this sort of article is that it feeds the notion that the abused inevitably become abusers. This is not only used to make excuses for those who abuse, but to libel victims. Statistically abuse is so common that of course some abusers have been abused. More often they are probably lying to seek clemency. But the mislabelling of victims as potential abusers is grotesquely harmful – I have even seen a job application form on which the question ‘have you ever been an alcoholic/drug addict/victim of child sexual abuse’ appeared. You can guess what was happening to anyone ticking that box and as far as I could see it breached legislation on the lifelong anonymity of victims.

    We should be fighting this slander via this site, not promoting it.

  • Hecuba says:

    Amanda Hutton was subjected to systemic intimate male violence by Aftab Khan and yes women who are subjected to such male violence are affected. This is not the same as claiming ‘all women are affected in the same way.’ Furthermore Ms. Hutton has a history of alcohol and drug addiction but this too has been used to demonise her by mainstream media.

    Women are commonly held to impossible standards when they become mothers. Mothers are expected to be perfect whereas a father’s responsibility continues to be seen as one of financial responsibility – not responsibility for child care. Mothers who experience intimate male violence continue to be held either partially or wholly to blame for supposedly not preventing their male/ex male partner from attacking them. Furthermore if the mother’s children witnesses or is in the same house when the male perpetrator attacks the mother, she is held responsible for not protecting her child! It is a catch 22 situation wherein the mother is expected to do the impossible.

    Men who murder their biological children are commonly portrayed by mainstream media as suffering from problems which supposedly caused them to make the choice to murder their biological children. But mothers are not allowed to have problems which affect their ability to parent their child/children. I have lost count of this ‘so-called tragedies’ wherein the father decides he will take revenge against his ex/current female partner by cold bloodedly murdering her children. The father is commonly portrayed as a ‘tragic figure’ rather than a male who decided to take lethal revenge against his female/ex female partner.

    If Ms. Hutton is solely responsible for death of her child this means there is no need for Social Services to provide help and practical support to women who are struggling with diverse problems such as poverty; drug addiction; mental health issues etc. because apparently such women are supposed to be able to ‘rise above such issues.’

    Ms. Hutton was failed by Social Services, Bradford Council and Bradford Police and because she was failed she is being held solely accountable.

    Roman Polanski was not suffering from drug addiction; alcohol addiction or even mental health issues when he made the choice to rape a 13 year old girl. However, men who choose to commit rape often claim ‘they were provoked by the female victim;’ or they will claim ‘alcohol caused me to lose control.’ Such claims continue to be accepted as mitigation by our legal system.

    Drug addiction; alcohol addiction and/or intimate male violence inflicted on a woman does affect her ability to parent her child/children. Expecting women with these addictions to enact ‘the perfect mother’ is ludicrous. This is why we have Social Services because they are supposed to provide expert support and help to such women. Demonising and blaming Ms. Hutton only serves one purpose and that is to exonerate and hide the agencies/structures which failed abysmally to provide Ms. Hutton with the support she needed.

    I wonder why we have rehabilitation centres for women and men who are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol because apparently such individuals are supposed to overcome their addiction and/or related problems all by themselves.

    I take issue with the ludicrous claim that ‘the abused will inevitably become the abuser(s).’ I did not say this was the case – however, women who have drug addiction; alcohol addiction and have experienced systemic male violence cannot be expected to enact ‘the perfect mother role.’ This is why we have Social Services – not to demonise such women but to help them.

    The claim made by police that Ms. Hutton was ‘an obstructive woman’ is commonly used to demonise any woman who does not behave in a passive and submissive manner to male authority. Women who have a history of drug addiction; alcohol and/or mental problems will commonly not be passive and obedient to authority figures. They will be difficult and they will be aggressive but this does not mean they should be demonised as ‘obstructive.’

    Interesting how mainstream media has demonised Ms. Hutton has been conveniently ignored and instead the focus has been on holding Ms. Hutton wholly responsible for the death of her child.

    Only recently another male murdered his child and his claim that he ‘lost control’ has been accepted by the court. To my knowledge this male has not been demonised by mainstream media. I wonder why?

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2442709/Birmingham-father-Kurt-Delves-admits-killing-2-month-old-daughter.html

  • l says:

    You can’t have it all ways – either abusers are responsible for their abuse or not. If this woman was mentally competent (and I am slightly surprised that she was fit for trial if she was prepared to live with a corpse like that), then she is responsible for the neglect/murder. There is a need for social services and they did fail the child – the child victim who they should have protected from any abuser. But if this were a case of a man having killed his child, would you be arguing that the estranged mother was to blame? Or would you be outraged if someone suggested that? If he abused her, he is also an abuser and should similarly be held to account for HIS abuse, not hers. Other people are guilty for failing that child but she alone is responsible for her actions, just as the rest of us are. In this case, she was the abuser. If you want to argue for excusing abusers of the blame for their abuse of others, I think you may be on the wrong website.

  • anon says:

    Hamzah had as much right and as much a need to be rescued from abuse as an abused adult. But he had no voice. Social services should have been more assertive and removed him from that situation. The other children were fed, why not Hamzah. In childhood abuse it is not unusual for one child to be singled out for abuse. His abuse and pain will never be known except she chose to single out one child for neglect while feeding the others. Some people are dangerous. They always have reasons but never have excuses.

    Hamzah’s father should have been held equally responsible for feeding him though.

    Women can be brutal domestic abusers too. It wasn’t the case that she was incapable of feeding him. She fed the other children. Yes the burden of childcare is unfairly placed on the shoulders of women alone and yes women are often abused but we remain responsible for our actions if capable and yes, she was capable of childcare. We must therefore think of Hamzah first.

  • anon says:

    I do agree though that when father’s kill, they are given excuses. Its for 2 reasons: society forgets that women and children do not belong to men. Secondly an assumption that males must suppress their instead violence and can’t be blamed if they attack when provoked. Almist that women need to respect that men will lise it if pushed too hard.
    Both assumptions are dangerous nonsense.

  • anon says:

    Presumably the author of this piece also thinks no one should be prosecuted for causing death by driving drunk? Drink and drugs are no excuse for anything – if you can’t be trusted not to commit horrific crimes against other people when you use them you have a legal and moral responsibility not to use them.

    I have written several very personal posts on this site believing it was in a good cause because the owner appeared to have good connections and an opportunity to effect some change. I now find I was exposing myself horribly on a site that is blithely publishing apologism for child abuse. I am very angry that at having been taken in like this and there is no delete function.

    • Admin says:

      Thank you for your comment.

      We are a space to share views which will sometimes be disagreeable. We believe the after effects of domestic abuse are not taken as seriously as they should be, and mothers are often held wholly responsible for child protection, which we think needs addressing by professional organisations. In no way do we excuse the behaviour of Amanda Hutton – she was tried and found guilty of killing her child and this conviction was fully justified.

      It was not our intention to be hurtful or excuse child abuse and I am sorry that we have done this.

      If you would like your piece(s) deleted, please email us with the title(s) and we will remove them from the site within 24 hours. admin@everydayvictimblaming.com

  • anon says:

    But you fail to recognise what you have done to your own campaign. The web is saturated with people trying to silence the discussion about abuse with the sort of comments we often dismiss as ‘what about the menz’, trying to claim that feminists and anti-abuse campaigners are sexists who dismiss abuse against males and then using that as a take-off point for derailing the conversation. 99.9% of the time they are wrong, and it is right to point out that the vast majority of abusers are men and a disproportionate number of victims are female. But in the case of this article they would be right, and you have given the trolls a great gift. In publishing this article, which completely fails to show any sympathy for a tortured, murdered (male) child in favour of making excuses for the (female) abuser, you have given them all the ammunition they want, and I would bet good money that this article will be linked to all over the web in the next seven days by the anti-feminist brigade, and it will be trotted out to discredit you every time you attempt to get involved in a public debate about child abuse.

    • Admin says:

      Anon

      Discussing the possible damage to our campaign isn’t appropriate in the website comments. If you would like to discuss this further, you can contact us by email, as we suggested in our previous comments.

      Thank you.

  • anon says:

    The article didn’t make me angry. The only way to address these issues is as calmly as possible, looking at it from as many angles as possible.

    Domestic violence can negatively impact the victim’s parenting. It can trigger depression, ptsd and substance abuse, all of which may result in a parent dissociating from their child/children.

    If a lone, isolated mother had been in the midst of a complete psychiatric breakdown, unable to care for herself, and in need of emergency medical treatment, then death of a child from starvation would be the responsibility of local mental health service and primary care trusts. No-one pushed any alarm buttons. Hamzah had not been seen by any professional since the age of 2 weeks. He should have been having regular health visitor appointment and milestone checks. He didn’t, he was allowed to vanish.

    However, the scenario wasn’t like this for the mother. She wasn’t in that condition when it happened. She had been feeding and taking care of her other children, but for some reason had chosen not to feed or care for Hamzah. She had not reach a level of incapacity.

    I don’t think there is a need to get angry about the OP.

  • Catherine says:

    I think this is an interesting article that triggers debate. We SHOULD be having these discussions about the responsibility for safeguarding & protection being generally laid at the door of women. We SHOULD be having the discussion about the role that statutory services and professionals play in the lives of those who are vulnerable and at risk.
    I think this article stimulates those debates and by considering this from a feminist perspective, it allows us to recognise the inequalities in the approach of the media towards women.
    I don’t agree that EVB have, in any way, harmed their campaign by hosting this piece. This website is not just about posting articles that we all agree with. It’s also about recording experiences or thoughts about victim blaming, which is what’s been demonstrated here.
    Anon, if you are concerned that MRA’s & anti-feminist will use this piece to demonstrate how women excuse abuse by other women, don’t be. Those who seek to undermine women and women’s campaigns will twist and distort anything they can find.
    In this case, I don’t see any excusing or apologism for Amanda Hutton’s criminal behaviour. I see a good, critical analysis of the context in which abuse occurs, and an examination of the factors which contribute to women being viewed more harshly.
    Oh, and as a former social worker, I can only agree with your points about the inadequecies of the responses to this case.
    Cath