Obama Needs to Address Domestic Violence


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“During his presidential campaign, President Obama pledged to make violence against women a priority. He promised to help expand programs and services for victims of domestic violence in the U.S. and abroad and to strengthen criminal laws.
Although he is still in the early days of his presidency and is dealing with many serious issues, it is imperative that the public hold Obama accountable for these campaign promises. Indeed, while rates of domestic violence were high enough during the campaign season (estimates are one in four women suffer from domestic violence), there is a great deal of evidence to support the fact that the economic recession has worsened the situation for many women in the U.S….”

Author: Laura Finley, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Criminology at Barry University in Miami Shores, Florida
Published in: Magic City Morning Star in the Katahdin area of Maine, Anderson Free Press for Anderson and Madison County, Indiana at http://www.andersonfreepress.net/node/15967, at Huntington News Network (home page: http://www.huntingtonnews.net/) in West Virginia, and at Harlanonline.net at http://harlanonline.net/ for Harlan, Kentucky
Date: April 22, 23 and 26, 2009

For the full article:
Obama Needs to Address Domestic Violence
(386 words)
by Laura Finley

During his presidential campaign, President Obama pledged to make violence against women a priority. He promised to help expand programs and services for victims of domestic violence in the U.S. and abroad and to strengthen criminal laws.

Although he is still in the early days of his presidency and is dealing with many serious issues, it is imperative that the public hold Obama accountable for these campaign promises. Indeed, while rates of domestic violence were high enough during the campaign season (estimates are one in four women suffer from domestic violence), there is a great deal of evidence to support the fact that the economic recession has worsened the situation for many women in the U.S.

In Florida, domestic violence shelters are over capacity, and calls to the statewide crisis hotline increased 37% in fall 2008. Department of Children and Families (DCF) Chief George Sheldon called them “the worst I’ve seen in years.” San Diego saw a 20% increase in calls in January 2009 compared to January 2008. Experts attribute at least some of these increases to the economic recession, as research has long demonstrated that a batterer’s unemployment is highly correlated with domestic violence.

At the same time that rates are increasing, service providers are experiencing cuts in staffing and resources due to decreased state funding and less money from donors and philanthropists. This can be lethal for victims of abuse, who already face huge obstacles trying to end abusive relationships. There has been a 25% increase in felony-level domestic violence crimes in Rhode Island, and Massachusetts saw domestic violence homicides increase three times between 2005 and 2007.

Outside of the U.S, women face far greater rates of abuse, with more than 70% of women in some rural locations of Peru and Ethiopia being victimized. President Jimmy Carter signed the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), but this essential treaty was never ratified. Obama pledged to push for its ratification, which, coupled with passage of the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) would go a long way toward demonstrating the U.S.’s commitment to helping all women globally.

It is not time to back-burner your commitment to reducing violence against women, Mr. Obama. Rather, it is precisely the time to focus on one of the country’s most intractable social problems.

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Laura Finley is Assistant Professor of Sociology and Criminology at Barry University. Dr. Finley is author or co-author of seven books.