Monday, March 09, 2009
Women Protected By Hate Crime Laws? You Tell Me
I found this article by Denise Marie Santiago at the Democrat and Chronicle.Domestic violence, and violence against women, is a mahor problem in this contry and around the world, for certain. However, the issue here is "hate crime." Attacks on homeless people are at an all time high and some groups have been suggesting covering the homeless under hate crimes legislation, as well.
The question that I have here is how many groups of people should be protected by hate crime laws, and how effective is hate crime sentencing enhancement?
March 6, 2009
Violence against women is a form of hate crime
The recent stories about the beheading, the burning and the beating of women have me thinking that a group trying to make violence against women hate crimes is on to something.
Because, really, what else is there to explain that kind of torture but loathing and intimidation? Not much, in my mind.
There's the Buffalo man who is accused of repeatedly stabbing his wife with a hunting knife, before decapitating her just days after she filed for divorce.
According to The Buffalo News, Muzzammil Hassan — who moved to Rochester from Pakistan to attend college in the '80s and formerly worked for Kodak — had a history of abusing both his first and second wives before allegedly killing the third.
I was thinking about that case after reading this week that more than 100,000 young women in India die in fires each year and that domestic abuse is suspected in many of those deaths, according to a study published in a British medical journal and reported by the Associated Press. Young women were three times more likely than men their age to die in fires, according to the U.S.-based researchers who ran the study.
Then there's the high-profile case of celebrities Chris Brown and Rihanna, whose bruised and swollen face has made the rounds on the Internet and on TV.
Brown, just 19, was charged Thursday in Los Angeles with two felony counts of assault and criminal threats for allegedly beating up his 21-year-old girlfriend. Police said that Brown punched, bit and choked Rihanna until she lost consciousness, and he threatened to kill her when she pretended to summon police.
The clincher is that the two celebrities reportedly are back together, which has people questioning the example they're setting for today's young people.
Bad ones, if you ask me.
But Catherine Mazzotta, who heads the local Alternatives for Battered Women, cautioned against making judgments.
Domestic violence is about control, she said, and there are many reasons victims stay with abusers: religion, children, or excuses that seem to make sense.
"Looking from the outside, it may not look very complicated," she said, "but from the inside, it's very complicated."
The lesson from Brown and Rihanna's situation?
"You will be affected by this issue regardless of who you are," Mazzotta said. "The highest risk factor for being affected by domestic violence is that you're female."
That brings me round to the group that recently gathered in Albany on the hate crime issue.
"We believe that these vicious, violent crimes against women, including rape, murder and the recent beheading of the woman in Buffalo, are because they are women," a Suffolk County state legislator told the Democrat and Chronicle's Albany bureau.
Assemblywoman Patricia Eddington announced last week that she was sponsoring legislation that would require police to consider violent acts against women as possible hate crimes.
Gender is now mentioned as a factor to be considered in hate crimes law, but it's rarely used when women are victims, say women's groups.
We don't need to look around the world, around the country or even to Buffalo to see the effects of domestic violence. It was a factor in nearly a dozen local killings last year, says a local domestic violence consortium.
I'm for legislation that would give law enforcement more avenues to prosecute those cases and to protect women.
To contact Alternatives for Battered Women, call (585) 232-7353.
Posted by Nikki at 3/09/2009 02:23:00 PM