Thursday, April 24, 2008

Problem Solving

Deidra at Black and Missing but not Forgotten has posted an article by Lindsay Goldwert which addresses the racial disparity present in the media coverage of pregnant women killed by their partners or former partners in the United States. Goldwert begins her article with the astute observation that cases like that of Lacy Peterson have put a "white face" on this type of violence when in fact that face most often belongs to a woman of color.

According to the CDC, black women have a maternal homicide risk about seven times that of white women. Black women ages 25-29 are about 11 times more likely as white women in that age group to be murdered while pregnant or in the year after childbirth.

Goldwert proceeds to tell the stories of several young black women who were murdered by their partners while pregnant. She also points out the relationship between pregnancy and abuse and the ways in which not only societal mores, but actual public policy have contributed to this problem.
The Bush administration's welfare reform policies spent $300 million on programs to encourage marriage among low-income couples. These programs have indirectly impacted violence in the black community, says Kigvamasud'Vasht. "That money would have been better spent on education for these women so that they could support themselves without their abusive partner."

Kigvamasud'Vasht (quoted above) is the co-director of Communities Against Rape and Abuse in Seattle who also points out the societal reasons women do not report abusive behavior including fear and mistrust of law enforcement, faulty procedures for dealing with domestic disputes that often lead to the arrest of the victim, and the fear of losing their children. Apart from it just being inaccurate, the larger problem with the lack of coverage of women of color is that it frames domestic violence as simply a middle-class white issue. The CDC statistics and the fact that at WRC approximately 96% of our clientele is African-American reveals that to be false.

The fact is that limited resources is one of the main reasons women stay in violent relationships (along with the fact that leaving is the most dangerous time)and unfortunately, due to a long history of oppression, race and economic status are inextricably linked in this country. If we don't look at the problem from a realistic perspective then we can't hope to fix it, and women will just keep dying.

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