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LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Men suffer domestic violence, too


In response to the two letters regarding Beata Balogová's editorial "Domestic Violence: when cosy nests turn into living hells", Sept. 12-18th, 2005, I would like to register my great dismay that both respondents emphasized male on female violence with no mention whatsoever of the reality of violence perpetrated by women against men.

Shocked by this fact? Well, that is understandable given the immense, sad to say, often one-sided press in the West, which has presented as an unquestioned fact that one in five women are at some time in their lives abused in a relationship. These Western perceptions of reality are important to both the many Westerners and Slovaks who form this paper's readership. The Bush-Putin summit (in Bratislava in February 2005) and EU membership both signify that no one can deny that the West is here in Slovakia, along with its perceptions, whether they be true or false.

What is often left out of the debate, or at least hardly ever registered in people's minds, as seen by the two letters in The Slovak Spectator, are facts such as the British Home Office's report that one half of domestic violence cases are perpetrated by women against men. Also, the official Canadian Statistics office (www.statcan.ca) says that 54 percent of men with a current partner are victims of domestic violence.

Viewing such websites as www.batteredmen.com, or listening to Imrich Galla, head of an organization that assists Slovak men abused by their female partners (reported March 15-21, 2004, Around Slovakia, The Slovak Spectator) should give readers a more balanced view of domestic violence both in the West and in Slovakia.

I, as a male, can report that there were pitifully few places for me to go to when I had a physically abusive wife, and I can assure you that most people just smirked when they heard about it.

My own personal belief is that in the current zeitgeist there are quite a few misperceptions held by the public and these are inadvertently, or purposely, reported as fact in the newspapers.

Misperceptions about domestic violence harm men. Attempts at rectifying either current or past errors in Western countries have all too often created more injustice, not justice. Slovaks, women and men, should think about that before emulating other countries' laws and practices.

While Beata Balogová, editor-in-chief of the Spectator, should be applauded for bringing up the subject of domestic violence, I feel there should be even more balanced and comprehensive reporting on this subject, with the aim of presenting all the facts in the hope that society in general, and Slovakia in particular, can actually achieve justice for both genders.

Two things keep me from thinking that will happen. One is the vast anti-male bias regarding domestic violence reporting. The second is the fact that The Slovak Spectator is heavily staffed by women. There are only three males out of a staff of 15 (75 percent female). One or two more women on the paper's staff and The Slovak Spectator could honestly be called a woman's newspaper. It would be hard to imagine that a newspaper that employs so many women, and one in which most important positions are held by women, would not exhibit bias. Unless, that is, if one feels women are inherently better than men.


Winston,
Bratislava, Slovakia

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