Posts Tagged ‘Domestic Violence’

Update: New Hampshire Drops One of its Domestic Violence Bills

January 28, 2012

HB 1608, legislation that would have weakened the power of law enforcement to detain or arrest violators of protective orders, was dropped in the House  after the bill’s sponsor, Representative Skip Reilly (R, Grafton 8), first bowed out of the hearing at the eleventh hour because he was out of town. Then, when the hearing was rescheduled to accommodate him, he simply failed to show up, forcing the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee to apologize to the  dozens who had traveled to testify against the bill on both occasions.

When asked why he failed to show up, he told WMUR’s Amy Coveno that he “wasn’t prepared to testify about the legislation.” That’s a legitimate reason to be a two-time no-show? If you did that in any other job, you’d be fired.

The intent of the bill remains a mystery, however. When asked about it, Reilly gamely passes the buck and explains he sponsored the bill at the request of Plymouth prosecutor Gabriel Nizetick. Nizetick quickly returns the buck by saying that his original intent was completely lost in the wording of the bill. He explains that

he was trying to bring regulations currently on the books in compliance with state law, saying recent amendments lumped civil disputes in with criminal infractions.

Civil disputes? Mistaken for domestic violence?

Although opponents are relieved that the bill was dropped, Amanda Grady of the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, expresses concern about other domestic violence bills proposed this session, including HB 1581 – sponsored by Rep. Daniel Itse (R), and Rep. George Lambert (R) – which prevents officers from arresting anyone on domestic violence charges unless they witness the assault directly.

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NH Proposes Legislation that Endangers Women’s Health

January 25, 2012

Part 1: Restricting Access to Affordable Reproductive Health Services

New Hampshire set the stage back in June 2011 when – through a five-person “exectutive panel” – it’s declined federal funding for the state’s Planned Parenthood clinics. As a result, it could no longer offer affordable birth control and considered doing away with pelvic exams as well. Raymond Wieczorek, a member of the panel who voted to nix the funding, voiced an all-too-common viewpoint from the anti-choice camp.

“I am opposed to abortion,” said , a council member who voted against the contract. “I am opposed to providing condoms to someone. If you want to have a party, have a party but don’t ask me to pay for it.”

And here we are – well past saving babies and far into the waters of SEX! People having sex! Because of course, the Hyde Amendment is alive and well and no federal money is used to fund abortions. And how can anyone pretend to believe a an embryo, fetus, or fertilized egg, is an innocent life in need of rescue while at the same time restricting access to birth control? They can’t.

Fast forward seven months and the NH house pulled all state funding as well. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England is keeping a running tally of women denied services. As of today, it’s 2459.

Part 2: Making it harder to protect victims of domestic violence

HB 1581 would prevent a police officer from making an arrest in a domestic violence case unless he directly witnesses the violence. An article in NH’s Concord Monitor illustrates an apt scenario:

An officer is called to a home where she sees clear evidence that an assault has occurred. The furniture is overturned, the children are sobbing, and the face of the woman of the house is bruised and bleeding. It’s obvious who the assailant was, but the officer arrived after the assault occurred. It’s a small department, and no one else on the force is available to keep the peace until the officer finds a judge or justice of the peace to issue a warrant. The officer leaves, and the abuser renews his attack with even more ferocity, punishing his victim for having called for help.

It’s hard to understand the justification for this kind of change. And as much as I’ve dug, I haven’t found any proponents speaking out on the web. Reasonable suspicion is good enough for most arrests – but not when the victim is a partner or spouse? It’s reminiscent of criminal investigation being paid by the state, except in cases of rape.

On top of that, we have HB 1608, severely limits when someone can be arrested for violating a restraining order to two things:

  • Committing an act of abuse or an offense against the person named in the protective order
  • Engaging in prohibited contact

Critics worry that this language takes away a judges right to rule on a case by case basis. Additionally, NH law enforcement believes the bill would

remove a judge’s ability to order a defendant in a domestic violence case to relinquish weapons or prevent him or her from purchasing a gun. It would also eliminate law enforcement’s ability to arrest a defendant who threatens to use physical force against a victim or her children.

New Hampshire residents can petition here.

 

“…emotional unpredictability, danger and humiliation…” – Patrick Stewart Speaks Out on Domestic Violence

December 2, 2009

Patrick Stewart recently spoke to Amnesty International on his own childhood of domestic violence. This follows a letter he wrote to The Guardian in response to an article about three women completing sentences for killing their partners. He empathized with them, explaining similar feelings toward his abusive father,

“I witnessed his repeated violence against my mother, and the terror and misery he caused was such that, if I felt I could have succeeded, I would have killed him. If my mother had attempted it, I would have held him down.”

Stewart briefly told his story in a spot filmed for Amnesty in 2006, and provided voice-over for a clever PSA. He also lends his name to a scholarship for post-graduate studies on children and domestic violence at the University of Huddersfield, and is a parton of Refuge, a UK-based advocacy group for battered women and children.

I won’t go into more detail. This speaks best for itself:

“Coaching Boys Into Men” NY Domestic Violence Campaign Seen as “Boybashing” by Men’s Rights Group

February 1, 2008

Here’s the print ad. What do you think? Orangeboy_sm

The men’s activist group The New York Coalition of Fathers and Families recently staged a protest against the ads, which are sponsored by New York’s Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence. The ads will appear in print, and in TV and radio spots throughout the state.

Some people recognize that domestic violence awareness efforts and aid services routinely fail to target male victims. Jan Brown, Founder and Executive Director of the Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men and Women, works daily to provide support to, and raise awareness about, male victims of domestic abuse. (Although interestingly, the organization targets heterosexual couples only. Men abused by women.) See Comments.

The critics of these ads, however, seem motivated by open aggression and hate. The ads may focus on domestic abuse against women specifically, but they persecute no one. The NY Coalition of Fathers and Families accuses the ads of painting all men as abusive by default.

Radio commentator Glenn Sacks writes that

if it really were a “Domestic Violence Public Awareness Media Campaign,” we’d be made aware that women are just as likely to attack their male partners as vice versa, but any mention of that is strictly verboten.

He neglects to back up his claims with any statistics. I guess we take him at his word…

But more than that, there are lots of ways to disrespect women. Demeaning, shaming, and destructive behavior occurs every day in the absence of physical violence. Yet the protesters seem unaware or unconvinced of this concept, at least judging by the comments to Sacks’ post.

And the ad doesn’t try to peg boys as necessarily destructive toward women. Will a boy necessarily avoid vegetables? Play with matches? Neglect his homework? No, but he might. Especially if the behavior is common in his environment and no one talks to him about the importance of these issues.

Yes, the ad could have said “respect others,” or “respect the opposite sex,” or “respect those with whom you’re in a relationship.” It didn’t. It focused on female domestic abuse, yet in doing so it didn’t attack or degrade men.

I mean really, a protest? I know that courts are skewed toward women when it comes to divorce and child custody. I personally know men who suffer from these kinds of injustice. But picking a fight over ads that teach respect is about as helpful to men’s rights as NOW‘s New York chapter accusing Ted Kennedy of “the ultimate betrayal” (for endorsing Barack over Hillary) is to women’s rights.  It’s ill-intended, counter-productive, and just plain embarrassing.