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Archive for March, 2010

Violence Against Women & Children – Domestic Violence

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There are men in power who just do not get it.  This is evidenced on the judicial bench and in state legislatures.  In particular, the fickle personality of the Maryland General Assembly in respect to domestic violence would be laughable if it wasn’t so dangerous. 

On the one hand – there is evidence that the House and Senate would understand the need for stronger laws dealing with domestic violence.   In her article Abuse Bills Tug at Several Maryland Lawmakers Personally in the Washington Post, March 7, 2009, Rosalind Helderman describes the experiences of senators and delegates who have personally witnessed domestic violence in their homes.  Knowing that there are legislators with first-hand knowledge of the horrendous effect of this violence, it is reasonable to expect that there would be understanding and support for the need for the strongest possible legislation dealing with this issue.  HA!

On the other hand – just one year later, evidence is very clear that there are also legislators who are still mired in the male-centric, antiquated perception that women and children are not to be taken seriously when the topic is domestic violence–even after the woman’s predicted outcome becomes reality.  In her article Maryland’s Roadblock to Helping Victims of Abuse in the Washington Post, March 14, 2010, Eileen King, regional director of Justice for Children’s Washington office, writes about the bill sponsored by Del. Sue Hecht (D-Frederick) which would change the level of evidence needed for the issuance of final orders of protection – from “clear and convincing evidence” to “preponderance of the evidence.”

Ms. King’s article focuses on the black hole known as the Maryland House Judiciary Committee, at least as it relates to bills dealing with violence against women and children, and sexual crimes in particular.  Ms. King focuses primarily on the statements by Del. Luis Simmons [D-District 17].  During the hearing this year when witnesses spoke in support of this new bill, apparently Del. Simmons felt compelled to denigrate a witness by denouncing her credibility when, in 2006, she made statements defending her request for a final order of protection, stating her fear for the safety of her children at the hands of her husband–even though her husband did in fact murder her three children in 2008.  Can anything justify Del. Simmons’ remarks?  Is there anything that can be more repugnant and ludicrous from a state legislator?

Unfortunately, the message in the second story is much more common than the first.  It seems that no matter how many members of a state legislature have witnessed first-hand the effect of domestic violence, men in power continue to express obscene and damaging remarks toward victims of this violence.  But Del. Simmons is not an anomaly, nor is this a recent trend in attitudes. 

In 1993, Judge Thomas J. Bollinger handed out a light sentence of probation before judgment to Lawrence Gillette who was guilty of raping an 18-year old employee who passed out from drinking and was put into Mr. Gillette’s bed.  Judge Bollinger described the situation in which Mr. Gillette found himself as a “dream of a lot of men [to find an unconscious woman in his bed].”

In 1994, Judge Robert E. Cahill sentenced Kenneth Peacock to 3 years [with 18 months suspended] for killing his wife hours after finding her in bed with another man.  Judge Cahill made statements that clearly indicated that he could not imagine any man not reacting the same way. 

So, as you can see, the history of powerful men touting the “boys will be boys” attitude as it relates to women has been going on a long time.  Aren’t you tired of this!  I am.

Written by Administrator

March 20th, 2010 at 4:32 pm

Posted in General, Victimization