Australian 'The Battered Wife' fish and chips shop forced to shut over controversial name

INNISFAIL, QUEENSLAND (PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – One fish and chips shop in Australia’s Queensland state has been forced to shut down following months of criticism and boycott over its controversial name.

The Battered Wife, which had come under fire for its name in 2018, was slammed by the community, politicians and non-profit organisations for supposedly encouraging domestic violence.

The shop in the town of Innisfail is owned by Ms Carolyn Kerr, a former policewoman who named her business after coming out of an abusive relationship in 2017.

She said she chose the name back then, not to make light of the issue, but to raise awareness, according to broadcaster ABC.

“I’ve been around domestic violence,” Ms Kerr was quoted as saying. “I was a copper way back when, and after that domestic violence liaison through courts, and then I found myself in a situation where I was in that as well and I just thought, ‘you know, it’s my little stand to try to make awareness.'”

But she had to break it to her patrons via a Facebook video on Tuesday (Jan 22), that the shop is ceasing operations before the end of the month.

The announcement came after Ms Kerr was told by an organisation that bricks would be thrown at her shop’s window, among other threats. She did not name the organisation in the video.

“With deep deep sadness, I inform you that we will cease trading next week. As many of you know, I’ve been the subject of an abusive witch hunt, by a not-for-profit organisation,” she said.

“They threatened to throw bricks at our window, complained to have our business name revoked… complained to industrial relations and child protection services, anonymously of course, saying that I was employing kids and participating in child exploitation,” Ms Kerr added.

In 2017, the official Facebook page of The Battered Wife Fish & Chips shared a post clarifying that domestic violence is not a joke.

“REALLY!!? Domestic violence is not a joke!! Not even close… I’ve sat on many sides of that fence but y’all presume I’m endorsing it with the name because someone posted something to something.”

Ms Kerr also shared a picture of her with a black eye in the shop’s official page, saying that she got it after stepping in and protecting a woman from an abusive partner.

“I didn’t call it Domestic Violence and your heightened energy could be better served in that area then on an abusive witch hunt,” she said. “I batter fish, I’m married to my business and I want to make a difference.”

Others, however, do not agree with Ms Kerr’s defence.

For one, the Attorney-General of Queensland Yvette D’ath was horrified by the shop’s name. “The business is completely out of step with what the community’s expectations are,” she said in the ABC report.

Opposition leader Deb Frecklington was also quoted by ABC as saying the name was “completely unacceptable”.

“It is completely unacceptable in our community that we have anything that goes towards an encouragement of violence towards women.”

The Women’s Electoral Lobby in Australia (WEL) also condemned the shop last year, when it shared a photo of the shop’s signage along with its statement in a post on Facebook.

“This is a fish and chip shop in far north Queensland – it’s called ‘The Battered Wife’,” the WEL said. “This indicates the scope of things that need to change in Australia for us to really see societal and cultural change and a reduction in violence against women and children.”

“This is not clever, or funny. Family violence is no joke.”

The WEL also scorned Ms Kerr for sharing a picture of her with a black eye.

“To be honest though, it’s probably time for her to just change the name and move on. WEL does not condone threats made to the owner or employees of the store,” the group said. “We support constructive change-making.”

The latest blow that made Ms Kerr decide to close the business was when anonymous complaints were made to Australia’s Fair Work Commission about the alleged exploitation.

Ms Kerr says that the commission is now doing an audit on her business and staff wages, but since she did not have audit insurance, it would cost her a lot of money to pay the accountants.

“I believed that I had audit insurance like any small business should have, but I was informed this morning that it actually only covers tax order and not fair work,” she said.

“I don’t know how much the accountants are gonna cost me to get the information together to jump through the hoops,” she said. “My biggest disappointment is informing my team that they no longer have a job.”

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