Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Efforts to end IPV?

I've been reading up on laws being passed around the world in effort to stop intimate partner violence (IPV). I've posted a number of articles related to these efforts on the VAWG Dialogue FACEBOOK PAGE, but wanted to get into more of an analysis here.

Mandatory Arrest Laws
My research for the past few years has been on the implementation and effects of mandatory arrest laws in the U.S.  These laws, while slightly different by state, require officers to make an arrest when responding to a situation where probable cause to believe a crime has been committed between intimate partners. Notably, many states have these laws, and those that don't may have pro-arrest policies, which encourage arrest, but do not mandate it.

These laws have sparked debate since their implementation. Unintended consequences, the largest of which is the tremendous increase of women arrested for intimate partner violence, have founded many of the criticisms. Additional concerns revolve around this idea of mandatory arrest as a one-size-fits-all policy and a blanket approach.

A new development has recently been proposed that I believe strongly impacts the mandatory arrest laws. Recently the Indiana House approved a law allowing homeowners to kill police officers. This law, I believe, puts officers in a very difficult position. Situations of IPV are already often emotionally charged and unpredictable. This proposed law, however, simply increases the likelihood of danger. Officers are required to attend to situations of IPV and often are faced with making an arrest. If an officer enters a home upon hearing screams (probable cause) this law would allow individuals in the home to shoot the officer. Having laws that work against one another is certainly a predicament. HERE is a link to a news article.

I don't see mandatory arrest as a best-case scenario; I've definitely become educated about the effects (for officers and individuals identified as perpetrators). But, I also know not all officers attend to IPV appropriately.

Clare's Law
Just yesterday a link about Clare's law was posted on our FB page. Clare's law, dubbed after a woman murdered by a former boyfriend, gives individuals the "right to ask" authorities about their partner's criminal/violent histories. Currently there is a year-long pilot trial testing the effectiveness of this law in Greater Manchester, Nottinghamshire, Wiltshire, and Gwent.

Police already have common law powers to provide information about someone's background if officers think there is a pressing need to do so to prevent a crime. This law, however, provides greater accessibility to histories. Debate continues regarding whether the law (common law powers) should remain the same, or should be changed to a woman's right to ask the police or to the woman's right to know (where the police would automatically disclose information in certain circumstances). (NOTE: Men also have the right to ask under this law.)

Criticisms of this law focus on it's effectiveness and it's intrusion on personal privacy. Some organizations contend that education and awareness programs would be more effective. This law doesn't necessarily change anyone's mindset or provide resources once you find out information.  Additionally, claims against this law suggest that once an individual has served the time/paid the price for crime, s/he should not continue to be labeled.

Lebanese Efforts
I was so thrilled when I first learned about the efforts being made to criminalize not only physical violence, but also sexual, psychological and economic violence in Lebanon.  The proposed legislation has been drafted by the NGO Kafa and supported by a number of other groups. Currently, there is no such legislation and family law is governed by religious courts.

The law, as drafted, would have appointed public prosecutors to investigate incidences of violence, estibalished special police units, obliged medical personnel to report cases of expected IPV, and empowered women and children to seek restraining orders.

A problem has arisen. The parliamentary committee tasked with reviewing this law (made up of 8 MPs--7 men, 1 woman) has made numerous amendments to the law. The law was expected to be reviewed/held by the MPs for 3 weeks, but has now been held for over 6 months. In fact, one of the male MPs made a statement in December 2011 that "There's nothing called rape between a husband and a wife. It's called forcing someone violently to have intercourse." Yikes!!! So frustrating. So, marital rape has been eliminated from the law, and a clause establishing a specialized police force for IPV cases was also deleted. And efforts to identify and prosecute economic and verbal abuse has been weakened.

Protests have been held and organizations continue to put pressure on the government.

Below is a video. If you need subtitles, click on the button to the bottom right that looks like an upward error. A menu will pull up and click the CC button. Alternatively, if you double click on the video when beginning to watch it, it will pull up on youtube (as opposed to watching it on the blog) and you will see a CC button on it's own to the bottom right and you can click on it there.

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