A Terrible Way to Mark Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October 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Disturbing news from the October 12 edition of the New York Times: “By a vote of 7-3, the [Topeka, Kansas] City Council repealed the local law that makes domestic violence a crime.”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.

AAUWguest By:   |   October 14, 2011

3 Comments

  1. erinprangley erinprangley says:

    Amy – Thank you for flagging this extreme example of political hubris and real world pain that victims of domestic violence encounter from callous public officials. There was a recent update that Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor had resumed prosecution of these cases. http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/13/us-crime-abuse-idUSTRE79C0FX20111013 But, that hardly addresses the dangerous political gamesmanship that continues to threaten the lives of women. We’ll see these games played out during annual federal appropriations where critical anti-domestic violence programs will be threatened in the name of “fiscal responsibility.” Thank you, Amy, for reminding us all that politicians at every level of government need to be held accountable to women (and the men who respect women) who vote!

  2. Avatar Barbara Price says:

    After 20 years working in the field of domestic violence it still amazes me that when it comes to a budget crunch the first thing to go is funding that supports and protects women and children. Thank goodness steps were taken to not let this happen, but without the vigilence and advocacy of groups like AAUW and those in the field of domestic violence and social media, it just might have gone forward.

  3. Avatar advocatepat says:

    Thank you, Amy, for expressing the outrage that most of us feel — that women are considered expendable, to be mistreated at will by spouses or partners, that the problem is theirs alone. For several years I worked as a volunteer tutor in a shelter for abused women in Boston. I helped many of them record their history of abuse, in order to prepare them for court proceedings. It always saddened and outraged me to hear how violence was wreaked upon them and how limited they were in seeking relief because of the atmosphere of fear and initimidation surrounding them. These victims need every support the legislative and legal systems can offer them, State and city budgets should support those most in need, and not abandon them.

Join the Conversation

You must be logged in to post a comment.