Women, crime and inequality
Official statistics show that you’re more likely to be a victim of violent crime or domestic abuse if you are a woman and if you live in a poorer part of the country. A woman living in one of the most deprived parts of the country is nearly four times as likely as a man in one of the least deprived areas to be a victim of intimate violence.
Today the government’s statistics office published the latest edition of their report on Domestic abuse in England and Wales, with figures up to the year ending in March 2016. If you aren’t aware of the scale of domestic violence there’s some disturbing numbers. For instance, police data show that 33 per cent – one in three – of crimes of violence against the person are flagged as domestic abuse-related. The Crime Survey for England and Wales shows 1.8 million working age adults saying they experienced domestic violence in 2015-16 and nearly two thirds of them were women (1.2 million to 653,000).
I was very struck by the geographical prevalence of domestic abuse. Below, I’ve copied the ONS table for the domestic abuse rate in each police force area:
That looks to me like a clear social gradient, with a lower domestic abuse rate in better-off areas. It’s difficult to make an exact comparison because police force areas don’t always map local authority boundaries, and so I went scurrying back to the report on Intimate personal violence and partner abuse, published in March.
The Crime Survey for England and Wales in 2014 – 15 found that 8.2 per cent of women and 4.0 per cent of men reported experiencing domestic abuse, that is non-sexual abuse by a partner or ex-partner, non-sexual family abuse and sexual assault or stalking by a current or former partner or other family member. In all these categories, the biggest risk factor is being a woman, but living in a poor part of the country makes a difference too. Women in poor areas are twice as likely as those in less deprived parts of the country to suffer non-sexual abuse and a quarter more likely to be the victims of sexual assaults.
I have, from time to time, pointed out that women are the main losers from inequality and welfare cuts. Women have lower original incomes than men, in large part due to their association with children. The welfare state tries to make up for that inequality, which is why cuts to it hit women and children first. But the social stresses and strains caused by inequality also hit women, making them more likely to be victims of crime, especially the crimes committed in the home, where we can’t see what is happening.