A Terrible Way to Mark Domestic Violence Awareness MonthOctober 14, 2011
Disturbing news from the October 12 edition of the New York Times: “By a vote of 7-3, the [Topeka, Kansas] City Council repealed the local law that makes domestic violence a crime.”
Amid budget cuts and a lot of finger-pointing among city leaders, the district attorney’s office, and Shawnee County officials, the city council’s vote shunted Topeka’s responsibility for prosecuting domestic violence cases onto the state of Kansas.
The city of Topeka, after a 10 percent municipal budget cut, squared off against the Shawnee County district attorney’s office over the prosecution of misdemeanor domestic violence. Between September 8 and October 7, the district attorney’s office dropped more than 30 misdemeanor domestic violence cases. Misdemeanor charges can arise from terrifyingly brutal scenarios, like the case in which a victim’s partner beat her with a crowbar, resulting in two broken wrists and 24 stitches.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Ironic, is it not? Let’s hope that other cash-strapped municipalities do not see this outrageous move as a green light to shirk their own duties for protecting victims of domestic violence.
AAUW advocates for freedom from violence and the fear of violence in homes, schools, workplaces, and communities. Thus, we support efforts to create practical solutions to enhance collaboration between victims’ service organizations and civil legal assistance providers. We also advocate to strengthen and improve the response of the criminal justice and legal systems for survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
This post was written by AAUW Director-at-Large Amy Blackwell.