One in seven people believe it is acceptable in some circumstances for a man to hit his wife or girlfriend if she is dressed in “sexy or revealing clothes in public”, according to the findings of a survey released today.
A similar number believed that it was all right for a man to slap his wife or girlfriend if she is “nagging or constantly moaning at him”.
The findings of the poll, conducted for the Home Office, also disclosed about a quarter of people believe that wearing sexy or revealing clothing should lead to a woman being held partly responsible for being raped or sexually assaulted.
Although a majority of 1,065 people over 18 questioned last month believe that it is never acceptable to hit or slap a woman, the poll found that those aged 25-39 were more likely to consider that there were circumstances in which it was acceptable to hit or slap a woman.
Men and women over 65 and those in the lower social class groups D and E are more likely to believe that woman should be held partly responsible for being raped or sexually assaulted, Ipsos Mori telephone poll found.
Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, said: “Violence against women and girls is unacceptable in any form no matter what the circumstances are.”
Ms Smith said that more needed to be done to challenge attitudes that condoned violence against women and girls.
She was speaking as she launched a police lead review of whether new laws are needed to tackle serial domestic violence abuses and whether there is a link between the early sexualisation of young girls and violent abuse.
One idea being considered is to allow women to ask police if a new partner has a record of domestic violence. A pilot scheme that allows women to request information on whether a new partner has a history of child sex abuse is currently underway in four police force areas of England and Wales.
But Ms Smith was confronted at a working breakfast at which she launched the campaign by a veteran domestic violence campaigner.
Sandra Horley, chief executive of Refuge, accused Ms Smith over breakfast at the Cinnamon Club in Westminster of using “gimmicks” and “spin”.
She said that government action so far had been “piecemeal” and condemned plans for a database of serial domestic abusers.
Ms Horley said: “We have had enough talking – we need action. As for the perpetrators’ register, it is a gimmick and doesn’t address the root problem.
“The majority of violent men don’t come to the attention of police and it won’t keep women safe.
“Police can’t be expected to monitor relationships and love lives of offenders.”
She went on: ”The Government is hoping to get away with useless initiatives like this register and it is hypocritical to sound tough and do little.”
She said that the cases of Sabina Akhtar and Katie Summers showed that not enough was being done.
Ms Smith tried to interrupt the tirade but was shouted down before Vera Baird, the solicitor general, stepped in to argue the Government’s case.
Click to view image: 'Bad man!'
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