Official bigotry in British courts: Men now second-class citizens
Official guidance issued by feminist judges
Judges have been told to treat female criminals more leniently than men when deciding sentences. New guidelines declare that women suffer disadvantages and courts should `bear these matters in mind'.
The rules say women criminals often have poor mental health or are poorly educated, have not committed violence and have children to look after. "Women's experiences as victims, witnesses and offenders are in many respects different to those of men,' according to the Equal Treatment Bench Book. `These differences highlight the importance of the need for sentencers to bear these matters in mind when sentencing.'
The controversial advice comes from the Judicial Studies Board, which is responsible for training the judiciary. In the past, the board has caused upset by suggesting Rastafarians have religious beliefs which allow them to use cannabis. It has also tried to ban words such as immigrant, asylum-seeker and even West Indian from the courts on the grounds they are offensive.
The latest guidelines have also caused anger, this time among campaigners for male victims of domestic violence.
The Bench Book tells judges that the problem `consists mainly of violence by men against women'. It adds `the reality is that some of the most physically violent incidents are committed by men on female partners'. The document also suggests that aggression against men by women is rare, saying that `men and partners in same-sex relationships might also be victims of domestic violence'.
However, campaigners for male victims of domestic violence claimed that men are being treated as second-class citizens by the new guidelines. They also point to analysis of official figures by the Parity campaign group which last week concluded that four out of ten victims of domestic violence were men.
Mark Brooks, of the ManKind campaign group, said: `For a document that claims to be about gender equality, it clearly leaves the impression that male victims are seen as being second class when, of course, all should be seen the same. `It is unacceptable that men, often suffering in silence at home, are being shown to be second-class victims by those running the legal system.'
He added: `To say grudgingly that men might also be victims is sweeping their problems under the carpet, when the Government's own figures show hundreds of thousands of men every year are suffering.' The study from Parity based its assessment on Home Office statistics and the British Crime Survey, the measure of crime most trusted by Whitehall. The campaign group said that the average proportion of domestic violence victims who are men has been 40 per cent.
Updated guidance on how to sentence female criminals was distributed in April in a new section on `gender equality'. It told judges: `Women remain disadvantaged in many public and private areas of their life; they are under-represented in the judiciary, Parliament and senior positions across a range of jobs; and there is still a substantial pay gap between men and women.'
On women accused of crime, the guidance quoted Judge Baroness Hale, the only woman among the 11 at the Supreme Court, who describes herself as a `soft-line feminist'. She said: `It is now well recognised that a misplaced conception of equality has resulted in some very unequal treatment for women and girls.'
The rules were prepared by a team headed by High Court judge Dame Laura Cox. She wrote: `It is hardly revolutionary that judges should know of the matters central to the lives of those who attend courts and to aim to provide judges with that knowledge.'