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Reader feedback: Smug majority

Re: Domestic violence: when cosy nests turn into living hells, By Beata Balogová, Sept 12 - 18, 2005, Vol 11, No 34

First of all, violence anywhere is an incredibly ugly thing and I'm in favour of anyone who's campaigning to reduce it and to increase awareness of it, running hostels for the abused to escape to, or trying to reform the perpetrators.

Nevertheless, I have my doubts about the efforts to deal with this area chiefly through the making of laws. It seems to me that we will never really effectively restrict violence until there is a culture of respect between people but these laws might actually produce the opposite of respect.

The first thing to note is that this is an area where the law treads with extreme difficulty. Most violence goes on behind closed doors and in situations with many contributory factors. It is difficult to gather evidence and difficult even to define what abuse is. In Britain there was a problem with the law to outlaw all physical punishment of children. The campaign organizations said there must be a law against any physical blow and responded to worries about parents accidentally losing control by saying the police could be trusted to decide what was a trivial matter and what deserved prosecution. Obviously they have more respect for the police than I do. What a power to give the authorities: criminalize everything and the police can pull it out against you when they want.

The law does little to remove the causes of violence. Maybe, as a representative of a smug majority (and not exactly a model husband/parent) I'm just making a point that is absurdly trivial in the face of the monumental suffering of women, but I do worry about how we will live when everything is law and contract.

Žilina, Slovakia

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