A 40-year-old woman has been convicted in the Circuit Court on two counts of incest and two of sexual abuse against her son.
Why do I mention this? Ah come on. How often do you hear of women being convicted for sexual abuse?
Does this mean women don’t commit sexual abuse? No, of course it doesn’t, but sexual abuse by women is far less likely to be reported, and accusations are far less likely to be believed . In just the same way, men are far less likely to complain of domestic violence, for all sorts of reasons, including shame and embarrassment. Even if they do complain, the police are less likely to take them seriously.
I was listening to a radio interview last week with a journalist who wrote a book called something like “Irish Wife-Murderers”, and I thought to myself, what about women killing their husbands?
Certainly, these cases aren’t nearly as common, but they do happen, and when women kill their partners, their defence is often attended by the most outrageous claims that a male accused wouldn’t get away with for a second.
The defence team always seems to attack on the dead man’s character in an effort to persuade the court that he deserved to die.
Can you imagine the reaction if some man accused of killing his wife made such a claim? Yes, I killed her but I had to. She was violent and abusive. I had to choke her. I had no choice.
Why am I saying this? Am I trying to achieve some parity of disrespect between men and women? No.
I’m saying that society tends to make assumptions that aren’t necessarily true. I’m saying that men don’t hold the monopoly on violence and abusive behaviour. I think there may be other reasons why more women aren’t charged with domestic violence or sexual abuse, and those reasons may be to do with society’s reluctance to acknowledge the existence of such offences.
I wonder if someone will try to argue that this woman was forced by a male-dominated society into sexually abusing her children? Perhaps this woman is really the victim and it’s my fault she did what she did.