Sunday, July 2, 2017

PRIDE


Image1June was filled with international Pride events. Let's not lose perspective and forget that public Pride demonstrations still require courage of the LGBTI community.  Marriage equality success can present sexual identity freedom and acceptance as a false norm.  

Being anything but "straight" remains unsafe.  

The criminalization of  HIV-AIDS exists in the majority of US jurisdictions, with many of those making it a crime for an individual living with HIV to have sex with another  without disclosure of the HIV status and that person's informed consent.  These statutes often do not require proof of intent to transmit the disease; and actual inability to transmit the disease due to effective medical intervention presents no defense.  The enforcement of these laws primarily against people of color is not unnoticed. 

Members of the LGBT community are more likely to be the targets of US hate crimes than any other minority.

Leigh Goodmark has written on the extraordinarily high rates of abuse against trans women.

While we celebrate the expansion of legal equality, let's remember that the specific "equalities" recognized are more along the path of joining heterosexual norms, rather than a celebration of sexual minorities as respected individuals who may equally participate in our society upon their terms.  Those "equalities" remain, in fact, narrow.  We must exlore whether what our culture encourages is more than demanding conformity with heterosexually based cultural institutions.

Let's try to correct and avoid heterosexuality as the norm.  Whiteness as the norm in fashioning race based remedies has resulted in the endurance of bias, implicit and explicit.  We are early in the journey of ensuring effective remedies for members of the LGBTI community.  Will we avoid the mistakes of the past in forcing alignment with false norms?   We will have some indication from SCOTUS next term.

 

 

 

July 2, 2017 in Gender, Gender Oppression, Gender Violence, LGBT, Margaret Drew | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Forced Marriage of Minors in the US - A Human Rights Issue

During a recent Boston demonstration against forced marriage of minors, word came that Image1Governor Christie vetoed a bill overwhelmingly passed by the New Jersey legislature that would restrict marriage to those who are age 18 and older - no exceptions.  Among the reasons Christie cited for his veto was that the bill was contrary to some "religious customs".  Those religious customs are part of the silencing of females and undermining their autonomy. 

Forced marriage is something Americans associate with foreign countries.  And when the topic is raised in the US, citizens associate the practice with some immigrant cultures.  While the practice may be more common with certain cultural and religious groups, forced marriage of children is not limited to those born outside of the United States.  "Shotgun" weddings have a long history in US Christian tradition and  resulted in no fewer forced marriages than other religions and cultures.

Unchained At Last was founded by Fraidy Reiss, herself a survivor of forced marriage.  Hers  Image1
was arranged in a conservative religious community and, like the majority of teen marriages, was to an older man who abused her.   After several years, Fraidy was able to escape the abusive marriage with her children.  She attended Rutgers University against her husband's demands and became an investigative journalist.   Fraidy graduated first in her class.  She recognizes that most women are limited in their ability to escape abusive forced marriages due to lack of "finances,  religious law and social customs."  She founded Unchained at Last to assist women in escaping from and resisting forced marriages.  Unchained is leading forced marriage prevention legislation demonstrations across the county

Representative Kay Khan and Senator Harriet Chandler filed a Massachusetts bill that would restrict marriage to those age 18 and older, without exception.  Parents would no longer have the ability to assent to a minor's marriage, judges would have no ability to waive the age requirement and pregnancy would no longer provide justification for underage marriage.  Currently in Massachusetts, there is no minimum age for children to marry with judicial and parental consent.  

May 21, 2017 in Gender Oppression, Gender Violence, Margaret Drew, Women's Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 14, 2016

Advocacy Resurgence

Every new president flounders a bit during the first two years.  This is not dissimilar to what most of us experience in new positions.  The more complex the duties, the longer the adjustment.  Some argue that we should give breathing room to Mr. Trump as he assumes the presidency.  There may not be time to do so as he pledges to move quickly on issues such as health care and immigration. We will need to judge his performance when we see how and whether he actually attempts to implement the agenda promoted during his campaign.  With a Republican congress, whose leaders are now ready to please Trump, some actions could be swift. 

What we do not have to wait to see is the unleashing of the post-election vitriol by some of the Trump supporters. 

Schools are reporting a rise in racist incidents.

As reported here earlier, the damage has been done. Disturbing reports are surfacing and many involve young students.  One woman reports an African American female student being told by her white high school peers that "blacks will be the first ones sent back."  While the statement is absurd, the threat is not. A spike in racial incidents has been reported on college campuses.

Middle and high school age students report misogynistic remarks directed at Secretary Clinton on social media.  One young female student reported boys "Trumping" (grabbing) girls.

President Clinton influenced a generation of young men to believe that anything short of  intercourse is not sex. That position became the mantra of many teens.  President-elect Trump has taken anti-female actions to a new level. Mr. Trump's admitted sexual assaults demonstrate to young boys that similar assaults on their female peers are acceptable, hijacking any hope of ending misogyny.  The disservice to young men is layered.  Living in hate is an uncomfortable and unproductive place to be. Young men are particularly vulnerable to influences promoting their power and prowess. Those young men, however, are now more likely to end up on a sex offender registry for engaging in the very same actions normalized by their president.  

Men and women have taken to protesting in numbers unheard of in recent political history.   There is a new population of human rights advocates willing to take to the streets.  Our challenge is to support those who are willing to publicly voice their opposition and keep the human rights discussion in play.

 

 

November 14, 2016 in Gender Violence, Margaret Drew, Race | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Misogyny Nation

I am neither surprised nor outraged at the latest disclosed remarks on Trumps physical assaults on women.  I never expected anything other than Mr. Trump's hatred for and abuse of women.  I am sad that as a nation America disrespects women.  

The signs were all there.  A history of calling women pigs, dogs and slobs; two lawsuits against him that allege either rape or attempted rape; assigning wives to traditional roles; disparaging one reporter's disability and another's menstruation, and more.  Combine that with other behavior and comments offending almost every group that is not white, rich and Christian and we Image1have all the indicia of misogyny and racism.  

Why wasn't the previously exposed behavior sufficient to cause the outrage we are now observing?  Because Americans minimize the impact of disrespectful behavior.  I thank the Washington Post for the latest disclosures.  Apparently hateful behavior will be challenged only if extreme.  If Trump is elected president, we could be a long way toward fascism before the populace even considers taking action.   To say nothing of women being exponentially more unsafe from physical assault than they are today. (For a humorous response to this failure to respond  to Trumps earlier disrespectful comments see John Oliver's comments.)


Image1This climate of tolerance and refusal to demand consequences for disrespectful behavior is fertile ground for the elimination of access to basic human rights.  We have traveled a good way down the disrespect road already.   I am not convinced that we will avoid human rights horrors in our future.

Responses to the latest revelations have been universally condemning. This may give us a reprieve from total devolution, but until the country is willing to protect each of us from the indignities of misogyny and dismissiveness, I fear that our travel toward the hateful nation may have slowed, but not stopped.  

 

 

 

October 11, 2016 in Gender Oppression, Gender Violence, Margaret Drew | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 18, 2016

In-Home Made Terrorism

The connection between domestic violence and mass public killings has not been overlooked.  The New York Times published an article on the topic which opened the conversation.  While the article could be read to say that the link is casual and not correlative, the connection is supported by FBI data that 57% of mass killings involved a current or former intimate partner or other family member.  

Nashville saw a near elimination of domestic violence murders, when, under the leadership of Officer Mark Wynn, every domestic violence call was addressed through a SWAT team response.  From the bottom up, our culture needs to shift its focus to take domestic violence as seriously Nashville did.  But that is not our culture.  For example, not every state requires the surrender of firearms when a restraining order enters against a defendant.  Yet federal law makes it a crime for someone subject to a restraining order to be in possession of firearms.  When federal gun laws go unenforced, the state is empowering violent men to do further harm.  Violence prevention is not a valued path in the U.S.

The failure of civil society to aggressively and effectively address intimate partner violence does, not coincidentally, lead to broader societal violence.  Failure to curb gender violence empowers those who are violent.  Violent men often hate women, gays, those of different races and others who do not match their limited sex and identity characteristics.  Confusion over what it means to be a "man" is a common thread for those who harm both women and those who are gender different.  Think Orlando. Religion can be the disguise these men use to execute their hate.  Think ISIS and its culture of sexual violence.  

As a culture we do very little to intervene when we see concerning behaviors developing in our young men.   Ending violence is directly related to how we raise our boys.  Traumatized boys are at risk of becoming violent men.  Traumatized men who are not given the medical, psycho-therapeutic and other supports they need become dangerous to themselves and many others. Think police killings.  We need to rethink our notions of privacy when it comes to children.  What is now considered intrusive will later be fundamental as preventative.

What if we organized the restorative and therapeutic equivalent of a SWAT team?  Imagine how effective intervention might be if children were diverted from thoughts and conditions that lead to violence by a team of loving, skilled professionals  and community members focused only on providing the specific needs of an at-risk child and the child's caregivers.  This may sound Utopian, but until we alter our present system of crisis only intervention for children, we should expect violence to continue in more and more dangerous forms.

 

 

 

July 18, 2016 in Children, Domestic Violence, Gender, Gender Violence, Global Human Rights, Guns, Health, Margaret Drew | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Orlando - A New Perspective on the Anniversary of Obergefell

By Jeremiah Ho

Image1

For the LGBTQ community, this weekend and the coming week will mark the one-year anniversary of Obergefell v. Hodges, the pro-gay marriage equality decision by the Supreme Court.  What’s interesting about this moment one year later is not the focus on same-sex marriage controversy.  Such “controversy” is hopefully becoming more and more of a non-starter in terms of legality, but not, on the other hand, in terms of its evolving meaning. 

In a year’s time, we have seen county clerks protesting against issuing marriage licenses; we have seen judges refuse to obey the SCOTUS ruling.  But those dissident voices toward same-sex marriages are gradually quelling.  The rights movement for LGBTQ individuals then shifted toward antidiscrimination and more notably restroom accommodations for transgender people.       

The Orlando gay nightclub shooting—as interpreted by many—takes the moment past discrimination and into the realm of hate.  Because of this shift, it is also a moment to add nuance to the existing sense of what dignity means for the LGBTQ community.  Among other purposes, Justice Kennedy’s opinion in Obergefell and Windsor used dignity for drawing a sense of similarity to opposite-sex relationships. In that way, as I’ve written before in other HRAH posts, using dignity to draw similarities between LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ relationships had a side effect of subordinating LGBTQ identities and diversity in order to achieve the legal argument that denying same-sex couples the right to marry was an act of inequality.     

But post-Obergefell and post-Orlando, the examination of LGBTQ lives can take on dignity in a different way that should affect the next time dignity is used in legal argumentation within a forum to push forward for antidiscrimination.  This carries insight for furthering the notion that gay rights equals human rights.

Recently, whenever a terrorist incident has occurred, the ultimate response beyond the vigils and the symbolic tributes has been to return to normal and persevere with our daily lives as quickly as possible:  to ignite courage and fly on an airplane, to walk past fear and ride to our jobs on the subway, to rally at extraordinary feats of human athleticism at national sporting events.  But what does “return to normal” mean to the community that was attacked two weekends ago, a community that has historically and intrinsically called itself “queer”?  A lot can be said about living normally:  LGBTQ people too take the subway.  They fly on airplanes as well.  They can be known to tailgate.  “Normal” means something deeper here.  “Normal” is gay, queer, straight, and everything in between.  “Normal,” in effect here, means dignity. 

Indeed, this act of terrorism targeted people, in part, because of who they were.  In the middle of Pride month, this gunman held up and silenced his victims in an act of terror—perhaps intending to bully us all—LGBTQ or not—collectively into a closet, where we hold ourselves hostage so no one sees us, where we trade who we are for the false sense of safety, where we can’t dance openly on a Saturday night.

But since the tragedy, the opposite of fear has been the massive response for recognizing gay people and what it means to have this shooting take place at a gay nightclub—a historically safe place for LGBTQ people to be “normal,” to be who they are.  Going forth, this moment should reveal that while people were targeted for their differences, the result was that their humanity and dignity—what we all intrinsically share—was ultimately placed on assault.  Somehow, this side of dignity must be retained in our legal minds and infuse the cases that rely on dignity to further articulate the rights of LGBTQ people.          

For the LGBTQ community, this weekend and the coming week will mark the one-year anniversary of Obergefell v. Hodges, the pro-gay marriage equality decision by the Supreme Court.  What’s interesting about this moment one year later is not the focus on same-sex marriage controversy.  Such “controversy” is hopefully becoming more and more of a non-starter in terms of legality, but not, on the other hand, in terms of its evolving meaning. 

In a year’s time, we have seen county clerks protesting against issuing marriage licenses; we have seen judges refuse to obey the SCOTUS ruling.  But those dissident voices toward same-sex marriages are gradually quelling.  The rights movement for LGBTQ individuals then shifted toward antidiscrimination and more notably restroom accommodations for transgender people.       

The Orlando gay nightclub shooting—as interpreted by many—takes the moment past discrimination and into the realm of hate.  Because of this shift, it is also a moment to add nuance to the existing sense of what dignity means for the LGBTQ community.  Among other purposes, Justice Kennedy’s opinion in Obergefell and Windsor used dignity for drawing a sense of similarity to opposite-sex relationships. In that way, as I’ve written before in other HRAH posts, using dignity to draw similarities between LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ relationships had a side effect of subordinating LGBTQ identities and diversity in order to achieve the legal argument that denying same-sex couples the right to marry was an act of inequality.     

But post-Obergefell and post-Orlando, the examination of LGBTQ lives can take on dignity in a different way that should affect the next time dignity is used in legal argumentation within a forum to push forward for antidiscrimination.  This carries insight for furthering the notion that gay rights equals human rights.

Recently, whenever a terrorist incident has occurred, the ultimate response beyond the vigils and the symbolic tributes has been to return to normal and persevere with our daily lives as quickly as possible:  to ignite courage and fly on an airplane, to walk past fear and ride to our jobs on the subway, to rally at extraordinary feats of human athleticism at national sporting events.  But what does “return to normal” mean to the community that was attacked two weekends ago, a community that has historically and intrinsically called itself “queer”?  A lot can be said about living normally:  LGBTQ people too take the subway.  They fly on airplanes as well.  They can be known to tailgate.  “Normal” means something deeper here.  “Normal” is gay, queer, straight, and everything in between.  “Normal,” in effect here, means dignity. 

Indeed, this act of terrorism targeted people, in part, because of who they were.  In the middle of Pride month, this gunman held up and silenced his victims in an act of terror—perhaps intending to bully us all—LGBTQ or not—collectively into a closet, where we hold ourselves hostage so no one sees us, where we trade who we are for the false sense of safety, where we can’t dance openly on a Saturday night.

But since the tragedy, the opposite of fear has been the massive response for recognizing gay people and what it means to have this shooting take place at a gay nightclub—a historically safe place for LGBTQ people to be “normal,” to be who they are.  Going forth, this moment should reveal that while people were targeted for their differences, the result was that their humanity and dignity—what we all intrinsically share—was ultimately placed on assault.  Somehow, this side of dignity must be retained in our legal minds and infuse the cases that rely on dignity to further articulate the rights of LGBTQ people.          

For the LGBTQ community, this weekend and the coming week will mark the one-year anniversary of Obergefell v. Hodges, the pro-gay marriage equality decision by the Supreme Court.  What’s interesting about this moment one year later is not the focus on same-sex marriage controversy.  Such “controversy” is hopefully becoming more and more of a non-starter in terms of legality, but not, on the other hand, in terms of its evolving meaning. 

In a year’s time, we have seen county clerks protesting against issuing marriage licenses; we have seen judges refuse to obey the SCOTUS ruling.  But those dissident voices toward same-sex marriages are gradually quelling.  The rights movement for LGBTQ individuals then shifted toward antidiscrimination and more notably restroom accommodations for transgender people.       

The Orlando gay nightclub shooting—as interpreted by many—takes the moment past discrimination and into the realm of hate.  Because of this shift, it is also a moment to add nuance to the existing sense of what dignity means for the LGBTQ community.  Among other purposes, Justice Kennedy’s opinion in Obergefell and Windsor used dignity for drawing a sense of similarity to opposite-sex relationships. In that way, as I’ve written before in other HRAH posts, using dignity to draw similarities between LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ relationships had a side effect of subordinating LGBTQ identities and diversity in order to achieve the legal argument that denying same-sex couples the right to marry was an act of inequality.     

But post-Obergefell and post-Orlando, the examination of LGBTQ lives can take on dignity in a different way that should affect the next time dignity is used in legal argumentation within a forum to push forward for antidiscrimination.  This carries insight for furthering the notion that gay rights equals human rights.

Recently, whenever a terrorist incident has occurred, the ultimate response beyond the vigils and the symbolic tributes has been to return to normal and persevere with our daily lives as quickly as possible:  to ignite courage and fly on an airplane, to walk past fear and ride to our jobs on the subway, to rally at extraordinary feats of human athleticism at national sporting events.  But what does “return to normal” mean to the community that was attacked two weekends ago, a community that has historically and intrinsically called itself “queer”?  A lot can be said about living normally:  LGBTQ people too take the subway.  They fly on airplanes as well.  They can be known to tailgate.  “Normal” means something deeper here.  “Normal” is gay, queer, straight, and everything in between.  “Normal,” in effect here, means dignity. 

Indeed, this act of terrorism targeted people, in part, because of who they were.  In the middle of Pride month, this gunman held up and silenced his victims in an act of terror—perhaps intending to bully us all—LGBTQ or not—collectively into a closet, where we hold ourselves hostage so no one sees us, where we trade who we are for the false sense of safety, where we can’t dance openly on a Saturday night.

But since the tragedy, the opposite of fear has been the massive response for recognizing gay people and what it means to have this shooting take place at a gay nightclub—a historically safe place for LGBTQ people to be “normal,” to be who they are.  Going forth, this moment should reveal that while people were targeted for their differences, the result was that their humanity and dignity—what we all intrinsically share—was ultimately placed on assault.  Somehow, this side of dignity must be retained in our legal minds and infuse the cases that rely on dignity to further articulate the rights of LGBTQ people.          

For the LGBTQ community, this weekend and the coming week will mark the one-year anniversary of Obergefell v. Hodges, the pro-gay marriage equality decision by the Supreme Court. What’s interesting about this moment one year later is not the focus on same-sex marriage controversy. Such “controversy” is hopefully becoming more and more of a non-starter in terms of legality, but not, on the other hand, in terms of its evolving meaning.

In a year’s time, we have seen county clerks protesting against issuing marriage licenses; we have seen judges refuse to obey the SCOTUS ruling. But those dissident voices toward same-sex marriages are gradually quelling. The rights movement for LGBTQ individuals then shifted toward antidiscrimination and more notably restroom accommodations for transgender people.

The Orlando gay nightclub shooting—as interpreted by many—takes the moment past discrimination and into the realm of hate. Because of this shift, it is also a moment to add nuance to the existing sense of what dignity means for the LGBTQ community. Among other purposes, Justice Kennedy’s opinion in Obergefell and Windsor used dignity for drawing a sense of similarity to opposite-sex relationships. In that way, as I’ve written before in other HRAH posts, using dignity to draw similarities between LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ relationships had a side effect of subordinating LGBTQ identities and diversity in order to achieve the legal argument that denying same-sex couples the right to marry was an act of inequality.

But post-Obergefell and post-Orlando, the examination of LGBTQ lives can take on dignity in a different way that should affect the next time dignity is used in legal argumentation within a forum to push forward for antidiscrimination. This carries insight for furthering the notion that gay rights equals human rights.

Recently, whenever a terrorist incident has occurred, the ultimate response beyond the vigils and the symbolic tributes has been to return to normal and persevere with our daily lives as quickly as possible: to ignite courage and fly on an airplane, to walk past fear and ride to our jobs on the subway, to rally at extraordinary feats of human athleticism at national sporting events. But what does “return to normal” mean to the community that was attacked two weekends ago, a community that has historically and intrinsically called itself “queer”? A lot can be said about living normally: LGBTQ people too take the subway. They fly on airplanes as well. They can be known to tailgate. “Normal” means something deeper here. “Normal” is gay, queer, straight, and everything in between. “Normal,” in effect here, means dignity.

Indeed, this act of terrorism targeted people, in part, because of who they were. In the middle of Pride month, this gunman held up and silenced his victims in an act of terror—perhaps intending to bully us all—LGBTQ or not—collectively into a closet, where we hold ourselves hostage so no one sees us, where we trade who we are for the false sense of safety, where we can’t dance openly on a Saturday night.

But since the tragedy, the opposite of fear has been the massive response for recognizing gay people and what it means to have this shooting take place at a gay nightclub—a historically safe place for LGBTQ people to be “normal,” to be who they are. Going forth, this moment should reveal that while people were targeted for their differences, the result was that their humanity and dignity—what we all intrinsically share—was ultimately placed on assault. Somehow, this side of dignity must be retained in our legal minds and infuse the cases that rely on dignity to further articulate the rights of LGBTQ people.

v

June 28, 2016 in Equality, Gender Violence, Jeremiah Ho | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Sexual Assault at Westpoint: Leadership's Disregard of Human Rights

 Recently, a former West Point cadet filed suit based upon sexual harassment and sexual assault she suffered during her time at the academy.  The complaint describes not a system of neglect in failing to safe guard female cadets, but a deliberate failure to protect cadets from sexual assault while placing the burden of prevention on women. 

An amicus brief filed by Sandra Park of the ACLU outlines the lack of administrative response to sexual assault and other gender based harassment and violence.  Among the practices engaged in at the academy are the following:

        Permitted sexist chanting and comments directed toward female cadets.

        Provided sexual assault training that placed the burden on women.

        Required mandatory testing for sexually transmitted diseases for female cadets only.

        Ignored the Department of Defense's directives on sexual assault reporting.

        Fostered a system of retaliation against sexual assault survivors who filed complaints.

        In 2010, the Department of Defense found that 51% of female cadets  experienced gender related harassment.

        The same study found that 94% of female cadets experienced sexist behavior.

        In the same year, 9% of female cadets reported experiencing sexual assault.

        94% of those women reported their assailant as a fellow cadet.

The Defendants in the case, both of whom were responsible for cadet conduct and sexual harassment prevention, are, in the words of the amicus brief, "subject to suit for creating the policies and customs that caused or permitted the violation of Doe's equal protection right to an education free from sex discrimination."  The court has permitted this equal protection complaint to proceed.  The government has appealed, which resulted in the amicus brief filed on behalf of the ACLU and others.

Citing human rights law, the ACLU argues that "the right to state protection from gender-based violence and a government's concomitant due diligence obligation to effectively prevent, respond to, and remedy such violence is now so universally accepted that it has acquired the status of customary human rights law."

 Indeed, "gender-based violence, which impairs or nullifies the enjoyment by women of human rights and fundamental freedoms under general international law or under human rights conventions, is discrimination within the meaning of article 1 of [CEDAW]."

One question asked at one of the presidential debates is whether or not the candidates favored including women in any potential draft.  The answer that none of the candidates gave is that until the military protects members of vulnerable populations from sexual assault, the question is premature.

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 10, 2016 in Gender Violence, Margaret Drew, Military | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 30, 2015

Policing and Gender Violence

by Julie Goldscheid 

 Advocates, service providers, attorneys, and people working in membership-based organizations were invited to share stories and recommendations regarding policing and domestic violence and sexual assault in response to a nationwide survey that was open for a one-month period in April to May 2015.  More than 900 people responded. 

Our report, Responses from the Field: Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, and Policing, captures their responses.   While respondents told us about promising practices, most of which included significant collaborations between law enforcement and advocates, overall, we heard very discouraging stories.   Respondents reported significant police racial and ethnic bias, as well as bias on the basis of sexual orientation and sexual identity, poverty, immigration status, language, and against victims who have a criminal history including sex workers.  They described how contact with the police has negative collateral consequences for victims including in immigration, child protective services involvement, and economic consequences.  Respondents also reported that a significant number of victims have goals that do not align with those of the criminal justice system including the desire to seek a non-punitive intervention, the need to “move on” coupled with the expectation that criminal justice involvement will be lengthy and (re)traumatizing, and the fear that they would lose control of the process. 

For additional information, see the report, at the link above, and the blogpost at Move to End Violence, written by co-authors Sandra Park, ACLU, Donna Coker, University of Miami School of Law, and me.  We welcome your feedback, comments, and suggestions for re-thinking the role of the criminal justice system within efforts to end gender-based violence. 

November 30, 2015 in Criminal Justice, Gender Violence, Police | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

State College, PA Joins the Human Rights Movement

Prof. Jill Engle reported the following:  Joining a growing national movement,  the Mayor of State College and the City Council declared Freedom from Domestic Violence a Fundamental Human Right and adopted a declaration that provides chilling statistics on the frequency of domestic violence.  One statistic that is particularly disturbing is the range of age- 2o days to 92 years- of those who were killed because of family violence.

Prof. Engle was joined in this endeavor by Courtney Kiehl, a former student and current fellow in the Family Law Clinic directed by Prof. Engle.  Courtney gives her personal account of her commitment to the project:

I came to law school because of my experience working with victim-survivors of sexual and domestic violence.  I’ve seen cuts, bruises, scars, and fingers that had been broken so many times that the bones would never lay straight again. I’ve seen the emotional impact that goes far past the skin’s surface, the relentless fear, devastation, broken hearts and families.  I’ve held the hands of young children as I walked them in to the courtroom and I’ve sat beside them as they testified about the violence they’d seen.  For over a decade, this has been my world.  I’ve dedicated myself to one mission, one goal: creating a world free from gender-based violence. 

 On October 12, 2015, that goal moved a little closer when my university town of State College, Pennsylvania joined the growing list of local government bodies across the country that have declared it is a fundamental human right to live free from domestic violence.  These proclamations raise awareness and demonstrate support for a new, human rights-based approach to domestic violence.  Further, these proclamations highlight the responsibility of local government to address domestic violence while acknowledging the important role they play in keeping their citizens safe.

 The human rights proclamation was a policy project started by students in Penn State Law’s Family Law Clinic, where I’m currently doing a fellowship.  In 2013 a clinic client, Tracy Raymond Miscavish, was killed by her estranged husband.  This project has been deeply important to me and to each student who has worked on it.

During my second year of law school, I was fortunate enough to be a student in the Family Law Clinic .  When Professor Engle told our class about this policy project, I knew I had to be a part of it.  As previously mentioned, I’ve been working with victim-survivors for nearly 12 years now.  While that might not seem like a very long time, I’m currently 25 years old and I know lawyers aren’t great at math, but that’s nearly half of my life.  This proclamation might seem like just another piece of paper, but to me, Professor Engle and the other students who’ve worked on this project, it is so much more.  It’s an acknowledgement of the prevalence and impact of domestic violence in our community.  It’s a message to all victim-survivors and to past and present clients telling them that they are supported and no one in any circumstance, not any human being deserves to be abused.  It’s a win, and we need all of those that we can get.

 

November 10, 2015 in Domestic Violence, Gender Violence | Permalink | Comments (0)