Tuesday, April 22, 2008

An Eco-Friendly Way to Help Domestic Violence Survivors

In honor of Earth Day, Women's Resource Center invites you to participate in our easy and eco-friendly Cells for Survivors campaign to help survivors of domestic violence.
Cells for Survivors is a community-based cell phone drive of the Women’s Resource Center to End Domestic Violence (WRC). Cell phones are collected from individuals, local businesses, schools, and community organizations and then converted into cash proceeds, which benefit WRC’s family resettlement program. In addition, the cell phone recycling program WRC has partnered with, 911 Cell Phone Bank, provides WRC with working cell phones and chargers to provide survivors with 911 access.

Your donations of cell phones support women and their children as they overcome homelessness as a result of domestic violence, transition into homes of their own, and establish a foundation of self-empowerment. Funds are disbursed to meet families’ needs of resettlement, including first month’s rent, deposits, utilities, and MARTA tokens.


-Organize a cell phone drive at your place of business/employment, worship, or recreation;
-Donate old, unwanted cell phones and phone batteries directly to WRC; and/or
-Place a collection receptacle in your place of business/employment, worship, or recreation.
For more information about Cells for Survivors, forming a cell phone drive or setting up a donation bin, or if you'd like to donate cell phones directly to WRC, please contact Rachel at 404-370-7670 ext. 104 or via e-mail at rachel@wrcdv.org

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Part 2: Take it Seriously

Recently Wayout TV, a Damon Wayans project, put out this video on YouTube. It features a young man who, after hearing his girlfriend is pregnant, calls on Abortion Man to fix his problem. This "super hero" then proceeds to find the young man's girlfriend and repeatedly punch, kick, and stomp on her until what is meant to be a bloody fetus flies across the screen.

In short, it is horrifying.

Violence against women is not funny. This video is especially egregious given that women are at greater risk of violence during pregnancy than at any other time. It is important to note as well, given the perceived ages of the two people in the video, that pregnant women between 15 and 19 are at a higher risk for homicide than any other group.

Producing this kind of "entertainment" is not edgy, or cool, or funny. It's irresponsible at best. Making light of violence against women gives tacit approval to abusers and would-be abusers, and tells the rest of society that this type of violence is really no big deal.

H/T Feministing

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Reminder - We're Needed

In case you needed a reminder today that the violence against women movement still has something to fight for:

Rape is simply sex (I am talking about 'husband-rape' here)... Women enjoy sex, so rape cannot be such a terrible physical ordeal…To suggest that rape, when conducted without violence, is a serious crime is like suggesting force-feeding a woman chocolate cake is a heinous offence.

A direct quote from a high-ranking British politician, courtesy of the Lodonist, who provides this commentary:
Almost 80% of rapes are “acquaintance rapes,” or sexual acts forced upon women
by someone they know. Partner/husband rapes are the most common, and according to a 2000 British Crime Survey, strangers were responsible for a mere 8% of the rape victims surveyed. So no, Eriksen, rape is not exactly, nearly, or approximately anything remotely like eating cake, and whoever the perpetrator is, rape is by definition violent, and is never “simply” sex, whether or not it is instigated by a husband.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Action Alert: New Gun Control Legislation

House Bill 257, which was backed by the NRA, passed the Senate on Wednesday evening after two rounds of intense debate. The bill was originally intended to allow constables to carry their firearms into court, but an amendment to the bill could mean fatal consequences for thousands of women throughout the state of Georgia.

It states that a person who has a license to carry a firearm can carry it "in public transportation," as long as it is not a violation of federal law. Additionally, a firearm license holder can't consume alcohol in a restaurant or other eating establishment while carrying a firearm. Under current law, guns can't be carried in any place where alcohol is served.
Thankfully, some of Georgia's lawmakers understand the danger this policy presents to domestic violence survivors.

Sen. Nan Orrock, D-Atlanta, spoke against the bill."The leading cause of death in domestic violence is gun violence," Orrock said. "Now we're opening up a whole new window to have people carrying guns and imbibing alcoholic beverages." Bartenders and waitresses won't be enforcing the prohibition against drinking and carrying a gun, Orrock said.

Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, said that most of the people who have committed mass killings in America recently were not felons, and likely could have legally carried guns. "We might be asking for a tragedy on MARTA or other transit systems, and it might be the next best place to go for the fellow that is about to drop off the edge," Fort said. "Let's keep guns out of places where they don't belong."

Senator Fort even went so far as to add a third amendment that he knew would ultimately not be approved in order to stall the voting and keep the bill from passing.

Unfortunately, these voices of reason are in the minority. This bill was passed at 7pm on April 3, 2008. Those in the Senate who have said that this bill only affects "law abiding citizens" with permits haven't taken into account the fact that many batterers have no criminal record and could legally obtain a concealed weapons permit. And while many women do not wish to follow through on assault or harassment charges, a weapons charge could still keep a dangerous person off the street or establish a documented pattern of violence. House Bill 257 has dramatically decreased the safety of public spaces, not just for survivors of domestic violence but for everyone in our community. Please contact your representatives and senators and let them know that you oppose this legislation and that it must be repealed.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Wisconsin amends housing rights to include dv victims

Governor Jim Doyle of Wisconsin has officially signed The Safe Housing Act into law! This new law allows victims of domestic violence to break rental agreements without penalty if they provide their landlord with documentation such as a criminal complaint or a restraining order. The law also makes leases void if landlords punish tenants for calling police or emergency services and prohibits municipalities from enforcing ordinances that charge fees to property owners when tenants call police for help in domestic violence situations.

While supporters have praised this latest effort to reduce the number of barriers to leaving violent living situations, Kathy Kintopf, account executive with Start Renting and board member of the Fox Valley Apartment Association, opposes the legislation and believes that it would place an undue burden on landlords. She issued this charming statement:

“I don’t know if it really protects anyone else in the building if that victim moves out,” Kintopf said. “Where does it stop? Would the bank let me out of my mortgage? Landlords are in favor of helping people, but I’m not convinced this is the best way.”
There are many things wrong with this sentiment. First, the primary victim is often the only one who is in need of protection. The rest of the tenants are only in tangential danger. For example, if the abuser decides to set the apartment on fire, or ends up in a hostage taking situation or shootout with the police, then the other residents of the building are put in harm's way. But that sort of problem is solved if the victim is allowed to leave.

Second, the legislation isn't meant to protect the other residents of the building. It is meant to protect tenants who feel so threatened by the person they are living with that they find it necessary to call the police or file a restraining order for safety. They could choose to have the other party exited from the apartment, but that other person will still know where she lives. Thus, many women must leave the physical premises as a condition of leaving the relationship, and a broken lease leading to back rent and bad credit make it a lot harder to build a new life of safety.

Finally, where does it stop? One would think that the possibility of a murder in her complex, which would, in turn, decrease the appeal of living in that building, would be enough to stop Ms. Kintopf from preventing a woman in danger from leaving a violent relationship. But our society is willing to put stumbling block after stumbling block in the path of women trying to flee from abuse. The burden still rests on the victim to seek legal recourse, testify against a partner whom she loves, support the children they may have together, and find a new job and apartment where her partner cannot stalk her. And, last we checked, she was the victim of crime and the perpetrator of violence is the one who should be punished.