education

No Radio 4 listener can avoid The Archers and one dips in and out as the mood takes one. I caught something about a woman locked up recently. Apparently she’d stabbed her husband and was denied bail on grounds of being a threat.

Hmm, I thought. That’s a good one. Here’s the BBC presenting a woman as the violent one in a relationship. Good to find a bit of balance.

Far from it!

Today I learn the truth of the situation. How far wrong could I have been? I had only got half the story. Poor old Helen Titchener was the victim after all – the subject of the carefully-planned isolation by a manipulative man. The story line so far had been chilling and convincing, demonstrating the mechanics of ‘coercive control’, a form of domestic abuse which became a criminal offence last year.

What’s more, Helen Tichener is pregnant and in this vulnerable state she is being held on remand in a woman’s prison.

But, never fear, Gove is here! Our dear Justice Sectretary told the Radio TimesHelen’s story has brought welcome attention to the real problems many women face from coercive and controlling men. Now Helen’s plight has shone a light on the position of women in our prisons and reinforces the case for reform.

What?? An overtly feminist broadcaster produces a sensationalised story about the victimhood of women and our Justice Secretary swallows it hook line and sinker and rides to the rescue? That’s like the United States President watching Braveheart and declaring war on Britain for its oppression of the Scots.

Mr Gove, the Archers is a story not the truth. We don’t listen to BBC fiction, or for that matter any other fiction, and use that to determine government policy do we? Do we really think that marital relationships are as portrayed by the broadcasters? They are far too concerned with sensationalising the abnormal and, as we know, extreme cases make bad law.

Over forty years as a teacher, one has seen the inside of quite a few marriages. It is pretty obvious that there are difficult women as well as difficult men. I remember one urgent telephone call to tell the school that the husband has been banned from the home for violence towards his wife. It emerged later that the woman had hit herself with a fying pan to create a bruise on her leg, with which evidence she was able to get her husband out and accelerate the divorce proceedings. Now I wonder if The Archers editor might be interested in that storyline.

(Image: Policy Exchange)

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