By Maureen Shawn Kennedy, AJN editor-in-chief
It seemed ironic that, during this month of domestic violence awareness, a Florida judge showed little awareness of the fear that intimate partner violence can instill. Judge Jerri Collins came under attack from victim advocacy groups after she jailed a young mother who was a victim of domestic violence for failing to show up in court to press charges against her husband. According to various news reports, the distraught woman was afraid to face her husband in court for his sentencing to 16 days for choking and threatening her with a knife. Advocates say the judge’s action sends a message that may result in many women not bringing charges against abusers.
According to the CDC report Intimate Partner Violence Surveillance: Uniform Definitions And Recommended Data Elements (version 2.0; 2015), “over 1 in 5 women (22.3%) and nearly 1 in 7 men (14.0%) have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime.” The real numbers are almost certainly higher, as many victims are afraid to report their partners for fear of retaliation once the abuser is released from jail. There are too many cases where that has happened, many ending in a woman’s death. Judge Collins’ actions seem heartless; she appears to be woefully misinformed about the dynamics and psychological effects of abuse.
At the recent Association for Women in Communications meeting in Kansas City, Nanette Braun of UN Women talked about several programs to raise awareness about women’s rights and reducing violence against women. The UNiTE to End Violence Against Women campaign has proclaimed the 25th of every month “Orange Day,” a call to action day to end violence against women and girls; Braun reported that over 60 countries have signed on to promote the campaign.
Another initiative that seems to have taken off, with the help of actress Emma Watson, is the HeForShe campaign, which aims to engage young men to end discrimination and violence against women and promote gender equality.
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