National Organization for Women


NOW New York State



NYS Lawmakers Must Rethink Violence Against Women as a Hate Crime
February 26, 2009

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The National Organization for Women-NYS stands in solidarity with NYS Assemblywoman Patricia Eddington in support legislation that will once and for all state clearly that violence against women must be regarded as a "hate crime." It is time to move forward, instituting laws that reflect the real lives of real women. Women who are being maimed and killed every day.

From the kitchen table to the corporate boardroom, women are talking. They are talking about the ghastly topic of violence against women and how it permeates our society. In the hospital, from the time parents scream "it's a girl!" they begin to ask themselves how they will keep their little girl and woman-to-be from the violence that many women face. Much of that talk concerns so-called domestic violence, and other crimes against women, such as rape and assault.

We live in a society that deliberately-cultivates a mindset that violence against women is acceptable at certain times. We cannot depart from the past unless we recognize how we arrived at where we are today. Or as one might say "the past is prologue." In order to understand why violence against women is a hate crime, we must not ignore the historical nature of violence against women and the systemic cultural belief that women are second class citizens.

Women of all ages have been exploited and objectified in our society from the beginning of time.

Given the history of violence against women we cannot deny that women are in a class by themselves, discriminated against, hated, used, disrespected and abused. Any form of violence against women is a hate crime, including "domestic violence." In a 1998 article titled "Rethinking Violence Against Women as Hate Crimes" by Ann Noel she states "domestic violence is often viewed as an individual dispute between a man and a woman, or the pathological problem of a particular man. Yet domestic violence reveals deep historical, cultural and legal roots to subordinate women. Men who assault their wives are living up to cherished Western cultural prescriptions -- aggressiveness, male dominance, and female subordination and they are using physical force as a means to enforce that dominance. Taking these crimes out of the realm of the individual and into the collective realm requires looking at how our society sanctions men's control of women."

It can be argued that "gender" is already included in the New York State "hate crimes" definition. The NYS Penal Code reads as follows: "Penal § 485.05 Hate crimes. 1. A person commits a hate crime when he or she commits a specified offense and either: (a) intentionally selects the person against whom the offense is committed or intended to be committed in whole or in substantial part because of a belief or perception regarding the race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation of a person, regardless of whether the belief or perception is correct..."

So what is the answer here in New York State? The answer is that all crimes against women must be regarded as hate crimes, with mandated equal enforcement of the assault laws and appropriate judicial response. When a police officer is called to the scene of a violent assault against a woman by her husband/partner or stranger, the officer should arrest the perpetrator for a "hate crime." And this mandated arrest needs to be judicially enforced. All too often judges shrug their shoulders and look the other way. These cases should be regarded as "hate crimes," with no talk of "he only did it once, or it's a crime of passion." Such excuses are not acceptable.

The images I show to you today represent only a few of many widely-published photos. Is it any wonder that women are looked at as second class citizens? It is time that we no longer tolerate a society that soft-peddles the true problem of violence against women.

NOW-New York State stands firmly in support of the proposed legislation that Assemblywoman Patricia Eddington will sponsor that says once and for all that crimes against women must be charged as "hate crimes."


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