Thursday, August 18, 2011

Why do we allow women to be murdered by their partners?

I was reading the horrifying stories of two American women who were murdered by their partners, and I was enraged.  Both of the cases filled me with rage because they were utterly preventable.  One of the cases really hit me in the gut.  A nineteen year old Latino woman Diane Gonzalez, was murdered by her 37 year old husband, Armando Gabriel Perez, in San Diego, California, in October, 2010.  She left behind a 10 month old baby daughter who has no father or mother effectively.  The killer fled to Tijuana, Mexico, where he is not going to be caught.  Tijuana is a lawless place where the local police are so corrupt and ineffective that they cannot even arrest leading Mexican drug kingpins or gang members, and so the chances of them finding Mr. Perez and extraditing him to the USA for trial are zero.

What was maddening to me about this case is the fact that in September, 2010, Mr. Perez had kidnapped and sexually assaulted the victim for a three day period.  In addition he also choked her until she lost consciousness.  So clearly he had all the signs of a domestic violence murderer.  Yet the charges against him were dropped for lack of evidence.   What were the judges thinking, that they should hand Mr. Perez a gun and Ms. Gonzalez's address so he could go kill her?
This story makes it very clear to me that the authorities dropped the ball on this case, allowing a high-risk offender to go free so he could kill his victim.  It occurs to me that the real problem is not the judges or the prosecutors who let the high-risk offender go free.  The real problem is that there is no will at all in society to actually prosecute and punish these killers.  Because where there is a will to deal with evil, society will find a way to confront and defeat it.  If we can send our military half way across the globe to capture Saddam Hussein and kill his sons and kill Bin Laden in the name of justice in the hostile environments of Iraq and Afghanistan, then we could defeat the plague of domestic violence if we were really serious about confronting it. 
Unfortunately, it seems obvious to me that we have a plague of domestic violence murders like this one which are preventable because our society does not want to seriously confront male violence against women and children.  The problem is not lack of awareness either.  People know men are hitting women.  They see it regularly for sure.  And guess what?  They condone it and allow it to happen by their silence and refusal to help the victim.   The people in my parents' synagogue know my parents were abusing me emotionally because I told them.   And far from intervening to help me as the victim, they aided and abetted my abusers by inviting them to join the synagogue.  I think the despicable reaction of this religious institution to my situation speaks to the reality that large proportions of our society knowingly and openly condone domestic violence and child abuse.   
If we were serious about defeating domestic violence, then 1/3 of women in America would not be continually hit every year by their male partners.  And if we treated domestic violence as a serious problem, then religious institutions would regard it as a priority to be addressed regularly on the Sunday or Saturday or Friday sermon.  And domestic violence shelters and transition homes would not be chronically underfunded and deprived of essential money for survival.   If we can spend $900 billion every year on our war funding operations in Iraq and Afghanistan (which I support), then we can find more than $250 million a year to spend on domestic violence.    
I have another question.  We know that women are most vulnerable to being murdered by their partners after they leave or attempt to leave a violent relationship.  And there is no doubt that many women stay in these violent relationships because they are afraid of being killed if they try to leave their partner.  If study after study has proven this fact, then why don't we have better programs or services to protect vulnerable women who are attempting to leave violent relationships? 

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