Erin Pizzey – Daily Mail July 29, 2008
Harriet Harman recently made a leaden attempt at self-deprecating humour. In response to a House of Commons question about her leadership ambitions, she said that she could not possibly become Prime Minister because, if she did, then the nation's airports would be filled with men trying to flee the country.
The joke caused bewildered looks rather than laughs, partly because of her lack of comic timing, but more importantly because there is nothing funny about her aggressively feminist agenda, which treats men as either second-class citizens or a menace to society.
Harman may try to raise a titter by playing on her reputation as a hardline women's rights campaigner. But, in reality, men would be right to shudder if she were to seize the reins of power.
Throughout her political career, Ms Harman has promoted the extreme feminist cause.
She recently introduced an outrageously misnamed 'Equality Bill', which actually proposed to give legal sanction to overt discrimination against men in job recruitment.
The scheme was dressed up as an attempt to combat prejudice against women in the workplace, but in reality made anti-male bias acceptable.
Now comes an even more sinister move. Yesterday, Ms Harman — who, worryingly, is acting Prime Minister during Gordon Brown's summer holiday — set out new proposals that may lead to a change in the law in cases of murder involving domestic violence.
As she revealed, she has embarked on a consultation process to decide whether victims of domestic violence who kill their partners should be allowed to plead provocation where they claim to be living in fear of future attacks.
At present, the defence of provocation can be used only when an individual kills during a sudden loss of self-control — during a fight, for example.
Under Ms Harman's scheme, however, cold-blooded murder could be tolerated under British law for the first time, as long as the killer can convince a court she felt in long-term danger from her partner.
Now, I have been a supporter of women's rights all my life. In 1971, I founded the first women's refuge in the country, which led to the creation of a nationwide network offering shelter for victims of domestic violence.
And through that experience, as well as my own upbringing at the hands of abusive parents, I know what a terrifying problem domestic violence can be.
But it is precisely because of my desire to protect the vulnerable that I am so opposed to Ms Harman's absurd new plan, which is not only an affront to the basic morality of our society, but also a ridiculously one-sided, misogynistic, simplistic and dangerous response to the issue.
Indeed, as with so many of her other forays into policy-making, it is driven more by feminist ideology than compassion.
Effectively, what Harman and the ultra-feminist lobby want is a licence for women to kill.
For thousands of years, one of the pillars of Judaeo-Christian civilisation has been the ethical injunction, 'Thou shalt not kill'.
But now, radical female modernisers think that this moral edifice can be pulled down and replaced with a perverse new moral code which holds that women can murder as long as their sense of victimhood is sufficiently powerful.
If this plan is enacted, we will no longer have absolute justice in this country. Instead, our courts will have to use a carefully calibrated measure of female grievance against which to judge the darkest of all crimes.
Only in the warped mindset of feminist radicals should we protect the vulnerable by downgrading our moral abhorrence of murder.
Rather than reducing violence, Harriet Harman's proposals could become a charter for domestic chaos, as vengeful women believe they can butcher partners they come to loathe, inventing incidents of abuse or exaggerating fears of assault.
'It is an outrage that thanks to Ms Harman, feminists such as Bindel can influence public policy'
That this grotesque proposal is even being considered by the Government only shows how far the once honourable women's liberation movement has been hijacked by extreme feminists, who are interested in oppressing men rather than real equality.
It is telling that one of the driving forces behind these proposals is Julie Bindel, of the Left-wing pressure group Justice for Women.
Ms Bindel displayed her lack of balance in a recent article in the Guardian newspaper, entitled 'Why I hate men'.
One of her sentences read: 'I will say loud and proud, yes, today I hate men, and will tomorrow and the day after.'
No doubt in her misogynistic world, killing men is a form of justifiable homicide. But it is an outrage that thanks to Ms Harman, feminists such as Bindel can influence public policy.
The absurdity of the Harman position is the pretence that women in a violent relationship have no alternative but to kill their partners.
It might have been true half a century ago, when there were no refuges and neither the courts nor the police treated domestic violence seriously. But it is not the case today, not least thanks to the efforts of women's campaigners like myself who have fought to change things.
Domestic violence is now taken seriously by all state institutions, and every police force has its own domestic violence team. A woman fearing abuse does not have to suffer alone. She can pick up the phone, and the police and social services will respond.
The proposals have also been prompted by the feminist belief that men often escape justice for their violence simply by claiming they were bullied by their partners, or that they were provoked because their partner was having any affair.
This is a myth. Home Office research shows 5 per cent of men are acquitted in domestic violence cases. Meanwhile, 22 per cent of women get off.
Another myth is that domestic violence is almost exclusively perpetrated by men against women. Again, this is nonsense.
Certain crime studies show that while one in four women has suffered from abuse, one in six men has also done so.
I will never forget one woman, who was staying in my refuge, telling me, in chilling tones, 'knives are a great leveller'.
That is the reality of domestic violence. It is far less clear-cut than the ideologues like to pretend, with their neat division between female victims and male oppressors.
The truth is that much of the violence takes place in squalid, tortured relationships, often involving drink and drugs, where both partners are guilty of verbal and physical assault.
In the refuge I opened in 1971, for example, of the first 100 women through the door, 62 admitted that they had also perpetrated violence against their partners.
Harman's law, if enacted, will be a recipe for injustice, not a means of protecting women's rights. It is vital that we should uphold the law as it stands and never allow our legal system to be dragged down by amoral feminist dogma.
Last updated 01/08/2008