100 years after women earned the right to vote, we are still fighting an uphill battle for simple safety. In cases of rape and abuse, men are given the benefit of the doubt while women are scrutinized and in the case of one Arizona woman, penalized, just for being a victim of abuse.
For seven months, Nancy Markham’s now ex-boyfriend visited violence on her in her apartment in Surprise, Arizona. “He choked me, punched me, threatened me with weapons,” she said on a call with press on Thursday. She repeatedly called the police for protection, but when he didn’t flee and evade them he was often simply released.
Source: Think Progress
Her boyfriend was released and so was Markham, from her home. Last September, she was kicked out of her apartment for calling the police too many times and violating a nuisance ordinance.
My ex was not arrested for punching and choking me for several months,” she said. “I never did anything wrong as a renter, I paid my rent on time and obeyed the rules. The only crime that ever occurred on my property was domestic violence and my calls to police.
Now, Markham is afraid to call the police at all, no matter the threat.
These ordinances are not uncommon at all and the ACLU thinks they are unconstitutional. In fact, they are suing.
But the problem isn’t limited to Arizona. Ordinances like the one in Surprise exist in all regions of the country. There is no official count of how many there are, although advocates believe they are incredibly widespread. “We’ve documented hundreds,” Sandra Park, senior staff attorney at the ACLU’s women’s rights project, told ThinkProgress. “It’s safe to say they’re in the thousands.” Part of what makes them so tricky is that they are hyper-local, passed by councils in small towns and cities, and can go by a variety of different names. But they keep coming. “We hear about them being proposed in states all the time,” Park said.
The problem with laws like these, as with police abuse, is that society is being discouraged from calling the police when we need help. Maybe the cops are only for the 1 percent? Perhaps that’s why so many people are turning to guns for protection, but that’s even worse for women in abusive situations. A woman has a five times greater chance of being killed by her abuser if there’s a gun in the house.
So, if a woman can’t call the cops and a gun is too risky, what does she do in the case of an abusive partner? Apparently, she should just take it.
Featured image via Wikimedia