Better Legislation on Domestic Violence Crimes Pushed

By Malou Liwanag-Aguilar/Asianjournal.com

SAN FRANCISCO — After a San Francisco Superior Court judge reduced the first-degree murder conviction of a Filipino convicted of stabbing his wife to death in 2004, the Filipina Women’s Network (FWN), along with The Vagina Monologues playwright and author Eve Ensler and other women’s groups supporting the fight against domestic violence, launched a campaign to ask State legislators to close the “special circumstances”loophole responsible for the reduction.

At a news conference last March 26, FWN president Marilyn Mondejar stressed the question, “Why is a domestic violence crime not as important?” Mondejar further explained that the present law states that a man who kills his wife will receive a lesser sentence, compared to a person who commits murder during a rape or robbery.

“Why should a domestic violence case be treated as less important under the law? We need to change the law to send batterers away for a long time so that women in abusive relationship feel safe about coming forward,” said Mondejar in a statement released to the media.

Being accountable and educated

Eve Ensler, author and playwright of The Vagina Monologues and founder of V-Day (the global movement to end violence against women and girls), expressed her concern about the issue. She said the two factors  are needed to change the way women are treated. “It’s all about accountability and education,” Ensler said. “If there are no laws, they’ll do whatever they want to do.”

With this statement, Ensler explained how the law and being accountable for one’s actions can change the global pattern on destroying women. She also reached out to the men to be part of cause. “This is not just a woman’s issue, this is a human’s issue,” she said. “Change will come when men understand that this is also their issue.”

More men have come out to be part of the fight against domestic violence. For one, the FWN’s staging of The Vagina Monologues (Usapang Puki in Tagalog) also includes performances of men who have joined in the cause in A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer, scheduled on April 4 and 5.

Taking action

Beverly Upton, Executive Director of San Francisco Domestic violence Consortium and Partners Ending Domestic Abuse expressed her disappointment about the reduced conviction and believes that there should be major steps in enhancing the legislation on domestic violence.

On March 14, Judge Jerome Benson reduced the first-degree murder conviction of William Corpuz, 34, to 16 years to life for the stabbing of his wife, 34-year-old Marisa last Sept. 24, 2004, based on lack of deliberation before the murder. Corpuz had already been on probation for a 2003 domestic assault on his wife at the time of the murder, according to the San Francisco DA Office. On May 11, 2007, a jury found Corpuz guilty of firstdegree murder, which should have brought a maximum sentence of 26 years to life. Judge Benson explained his decision stating that he had no choice but to reduce Corpuz’s because he was constrained by limitations in California laws on homicide to rule as he did.

FWN, along with other women’s and domestic violence groups are now geared to working with California State legislators to push on changing the law. According to Family Violence Prevention Fund, there is an estimated 960,000 incidents of violence against a current or former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend each year in the US. Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime.

“We must raise the awareness about this issue,” said Mondejar and added, “It is time to discuss this.”

(www.asianjournal.com)

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