Female perpetrators of domestic violence are usually given a ‘free pass’ by the police and are frequently not prosecuted, an Australian politician has claimed.
Writing in the Brisbane Times, former senator Bill O’Chee insisted that “domestic violence is an equal opportunity killer” and that “women are just as capable of killing in domestic circumstances as men, especially when children are involved.”
In support of this claim, he cited a number of recent domestic murders in Australia with female perpetrators, as well as figures from the Australian Institute of Criminology claiming that 45 per cent of fatal domestic violence incidents involving children are committed by the mother.
The politician quotes a former police prosecutor now practicing as a solicitor, who told him that he did not charge a single woman with domestic violence in the ten years he spent in his previous role, “notwithstanding the fact over one third of domestic violence victims are men.”
His friend, wrote O’Chee, believed there was an “inherent bias” in the way the police treat female perpetrators of domestic violence. “They usually get a free pass”.
The former senator for Queensland said failure to prosecute women for domestic violence on the basis of their gender risked “creating a future domestic killer” because domestic abusers tend to commit increasingly severe offences over time.
“Equal opportunity for women must also mean equal responsibility for their actions, including their crimes.”
The article has attracted criticism from domestic violence campaigners. Melanie Fernandez of feminist organisation the Women’s Electoral Lobby described the article as “just not accurate” and “pretty disappointing”, The Guardian reports.
“We’ve got such a big problem of violence against women. To put something forward like this decreases the serious nature of that.”
Read O’Chee’s article here.