Three cheers for the reduction in Violent Crime! Hip Hip…Oh. Wait.
"Violent crime in England and Wales falls again, A&E data shows" the BBC reports on its News Headlines page today.
"Survey shows a fall in violent crime", shouts The Telegraph.
We noted an absence of any mention of crimes specifically impacting women in these media reports - no surprise there, we often find when discussing 'crime' such as this, the focus is on violent 'street' crime, rather than crimes that happen within the family home. Looking a little further into the media coverage, we found this:
"London crime falls overall as rape reports rise" advises the Evening Standard.
It seems we are not seeing a fall in violent crime, if the number of rape reports have increased. Rape is a crime of violence in and of itself, even if explicit violence isn't used prior to, during or after the act of rape. Yet this is erased by the media headlines. Further on into this piece, we found this quote:
..the number of crimes involving violence causing injury was up 1.5 per cent.
Police said this was due to an increase in domestic violence cases, rather than street violence.
Why didn't the headline read: 'London crime increases'?(Don't answer that. We know why)
Looking in more depth at the statistics behind these reports, we find the Annual Serious Violence Survey, published by Cardiff University, and the Met Police Crime Stats, both released today. We are not going to discuss the police crime statistics in more detail until we can be reassured that they are reliable, which they are currently not.
We found a Press Release detailing the findings of the research team at Cardiff University:
Looking in more depth at the report itself, it is clearly discussing crime information that has been collated by medical teams across the UK. It is disappointing (but not surprising) that the media have responded in a way that is ignorant about issues directly affecting women.
From our work with women and who have experienced violence from a partner or ex-partner we know;
- many women who are injured by their partner or ex-partner, or victim-survivors of rape, manage their injuries themselves; in order to avoid accessing healthcare services
- many women who are injured by their partner or ex-partner explain their injuries as accidental
- women experience approximately 35 incidents of violence before seeking help.
This report doesn't say anything useful about violent crime most often experienced by women. Looking at the headlines, this report has allowed the media to report only the 'violent crime' they are prepared to talk about in detail - street crime. The media coverage erases the experience of women who are assaulted and injured in their home. It erases the experiences of women who are unable to access health services (for whatever reason). Media coverage of this type erases the serious, violent crimes that women are most at risk from.
The only way to suggest that all violent crimes are decreasing whilst excluding rape and domestic violence is to suggest that they aren't 'real' crimes of violence.
This is the very essence of victim blaming.
You can access a copy of the Cardiff University report here.