Who Will Answer the Call to End Domestic Violence in New Mexico?
We are perhaps 8 days away from destroying the proverbial glass ceiling by electing our nation’s first woman president – and then all will be right with the world. On November 9 women will be treated the same as men in this society, and never suffer inequality again! Women will open their own doors, by jove, and never stop for directions, the same as men! In fact, domestic violence will be a thing of the past as well. Hurrah! Trick or Treat.
If you believe that, then you think racism suddenly evaporated when Obama became the 44th President of the United States.
The truth is we’re still far from ending racism and domestic violence against women is as ubiquitous in this society as kleenex and blue jeans. Women are taking hits from all sides: the abusive partner, the struggle to feel worthy, income inequality, misogyny, extremist politicians and their perpetual attempt to either block or reverse hard-won laws and legislation. Though we have enacted bills and laws to bring the violence to an end and we recognize October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month what we’ve done so far is not enough.
It’s been three years since the re-implementation of the landmark federal legislation – over Republican objections which ended the programs – to protect women and children, known as the Violence Against Women Act or VAWA. Yet, domestic violence continues to ravage our society. How does VAWA protect women from abuse when repeat offenders receive light sentences?
Just open the day’s paper to see evidence that in several cases, leniency and clemency are offered to perpetrators of domestic abuse more often than robust prosecution for the crime.
In 2015, New Mexican Micah Criswell took the life of his off-again, on-again girlfriend, Tannis Johnson. Criswell beat Johnson, 34, to a pulp with his fists. He broke her bones, shoved her into a nightstand, and tampered with evidence in an attempt to cover up his crime. Despite those facts and injuries, Criswell made bail by paying just $1,750. By paying $1750 Criswell made bail. He was only rearrested when Johnson died of her injuries. It wasn’t the first time the couple fought – but it was the last, and it didn’t have to happen. accord…. prior … system…
The intention of VAWA is to help protect women, but how does the law shelter the vulnerable? New Mexico received and then delivered more than 1 million dollars to two dozen charities and organizations that make it their business to protect and serve the needs of women in our community. But 1 million dollars is not enough to battle the abuse that impact women’s emotional and mental health, their financial and family lives for decades to come.
Financially,VAWA on the Federal level was intended to take the financial burden off victims to cover the cost of their own rape exams or for service of protection orders. The intention of VAWA on the State level is to fund much-needed local programs like safe houses and shelters, rape crisis centers, and support for women in rural communities legal defense funds. The VAWA is clearly a noble cause, and not exempt from partisan battles – we still stand watch.
As recently as 2013, New Mexico’s own Congressman Steve Pearce and his Tea Party colleagues blocked VAWA and refused to hear any bill unless it fit the criteria of “legitimate” domestic violence/rape cases.
In 2013, ProgressNowNM joined women and advocates from across the state to protest Congressman Steve Pearce’s efforts joining with other Congressional Republicans to rewrite the law to include protections for only some women.
The House GOP looks likely to rewrite the domestic violence prevention bill, which passed the Senate last week, with the aim of stripping provisions for Native Americans, undocumented people, and the LGBT community — the same provisions that Senate Republicans tried to remove from the bill. – ThinkProgress, May 2012
Those votes were a preview of the “anti-everyone else” agenda we see personified in their choice of Donald Trump today (Pearce has defended Donald Trump’s attacks on women, immigrants, and the LGBT community and continues to endorse him).
The same patronizing attitudes that led Republicans to believe they could pick the categories of women deserving of protection were also on display at the second Presidential debate. Watchers quickly pointed out that Trump stalked and loomed over Clinton, using tactics of intimidation. The FLOTUS’s gut-wrenching response to said behavior trigger reminders of the importance of bills like VAWA and the protections they provide to support all women.
Intense public pressure and smart activism forced Republican extremists to reverse course in 2013 – allowing VAWA to be renewed with protections for all women.
Now we’re facing a new challenge of the same sort. This time at the state level and right here in New Mexico.
Some of these same Republican lawmakers voted “NO” to hiring more police officers to help all battle crime which would include cases of sexual violence and domestic abuse, even after State Rep. Bill McCamley (D-Mesilla) questioned whether domestic violence shelters and services for abused women would be cut. Fewer cops on the streets to come to the rescue when called. What if there is no one to answer that call?
Why would anyone opt to not participate in the democratic process of voting in the upcoming election? 469 seats in Congress are up for election on November 8, 2016. There are 34 Senate seats and ALL 435 House seats are up for election. Ditto for the 42 State Senate and 70 State House seats all on the ballot this year in New Mexico.
As much as it is important to vote for who will be the President of the United States, it’s just as important for citizens to consider who will represent them and their interests, on the Senate and House Floors from Washington to Santa Fe.
Nasty Women VoteNASTY WOMEN of New Mexico! You have ONE WEEK left to early vote! Make history.
Posted by ProgressNow New Mexico on Monday, October 31, 2016
If you or someone you know is living with domestic violence, support is available. Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline for confidential help.