If you have been paying attention to the sentences that are handed down in our courts, you will have noticed how many judges rule according to the gender of the person.
Now with anything of this kind, there are exceptions, that is, one will find examples where a judge will sentence a woman who commits the same crime as a man in the same way or even give her a lesser sentence. However, generally we see a pattern where women with first time convictions are given jail time where men with multiple convictions are still getting off with time served and community service.
1. A woman who was convicted of sexually molesting her children was sentenced to life imprisonment while her husband, convicted of the same crime was given no jail time at all. The State assumed guardianship of the children who were allowed to regularly visit the father without supervision.
2. Susan Smith in S.C. got life and almost got the death penalty for drowning her two boys. Yet men usually get puny sentences like the man in Waterbury, Vermont who killed his kid and got 6 years. And yet men kill almost 2,000 children in the U.S. every year and they never make the cover of TIME magazine.
4. Time after time, we read of men in the dock for 5, 6, 7, or more D.U.I. charges and driving without a valid license (because it had been taken from them on previous D.U.I. charges) who are released with nothing more than a mild, "go and sin no more."
5. Of course, one that affects all women is the mild slap on the hand usually given a stalker or a batterer who is the victim's S.O. or husband.
6. And just last week a judge released, on his own recognizance, a man in his 20s who was caught in the act of raping an 18 MONTH OLD GIRL.
We keep hearing how things have changed so much here in this country. We are told of the new laws and public awareness of stalking/batterers. This may lead one to think that things are better, that women are safer in their homes because we are an enlightened country. We need to think again. This abomination is endemic!
It's not hard to believe the abuse heaped on Kenyan women because as a recent report states, "Kenya is a country where wife-beating is not only prevalent by largely condoned." What is more surprising is the courage of a 30-year-old Masai woman, Agnes Siyiankoi, who has defied the tradition that she silently submit to the abuse of her husband -- she has taken him to court, a rare occurrence in this country where "If a man does not beat his wife, he is looked down upon as a weakling." Siyiankoi goes on, "When I run to my father's house after every severe beating, my mother comforts me and tells me to return to him saying, 'look at the scars I've gotten from your father's beatings'."
Despite our avowal as a culture that we frown on wife-beating, our legal and judicial system has changed very little, and there is still a large amount of public opinion that supports a man's right to beat his wife. Sadly, there are still women that think they deserve to be beaten.
The role of GenderGappers-for-change has never been more vital to our human rights. Changes in public opinion and judicial process must come from intelligent, aware judges but the majority in Congress has prevented hundreds of Clinton's judicial appointments from being confirmed.
We all must note the conditions in our own state and make sure we vote in our local and state elections. Most localities have battered women support groups/homes that can always use our support. [liznote]
As long as our culture holds to the belief that men are superior to, and therefore own women, we can expect very little to change. Possessions do not fight back against injustice, human beings do.
Time to stop saying that it can't happen here. It does happen here. If you need a nudge, read the book Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen (link on image, above). Just recently, the Chief Justice of the Supremes has called attention to and criticized the majority's actions (or more correctly, inactions.)
|If you haven't already gone fishin', here's a URL for you: http://www.EvolveFISH.com. One of their bumper stickers that especially appeals to 'Gappers reads: "Freedom is the Distance Between Church and State."|
Copyright 1997 Renee T. Louise and Ruth M. Sprague, Ph.D. These articles may be republished for noncommercial use only, provided that they are copied intact, and that this copyright notice is attached. Address all queries to: TWANDA@ConnRiver.net.
G e n d e r G a p p e r s T M
[liznote: for more information on what you can do to assist against domestic violence, see the CAVNET Communities Against Domestic VIolence Network website, or see the liz library research section under "Gender Politics." For more information on gender and justice in the family court system, see the website of Karen Winner, author of Divorced From Justice, and liznotes.