Sustained Outrage

Shelters for battered women discriminatory, judge rules

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As the Associated Press is reporting, Chief Kanawha Circuit Judge Jim Stucky ruled earlier this month that West Virginia’s domestic violence programs discriminate against male victims. They also deny women batterers access to the same treatment programs as their male counterparts, according to Stucky.

You can read the full order here.

Here’s one of Stucky’s conclusions:

The intent of the West Virginia legislature relative to domestic violence is crystal clear. The legislature has found that every person has a right to be safe and secure in his or her home and family and to be free from domestic violence. To secure this right to all West Virginians the legislature has defined domestic violence and those who can be perpetrators or victims of domestic violence in the strictest of gender neutral terms. Every person, regardless of gender, enjoys a statutory right to participation in and receipt of domestic violence services offered by facilities licensed and funded in whole or in part by the state of West Virginia.

Stucky’s ruling is part of a lawsuit filed by Men and Women Against Discrimination — an advocacy group that lobbies for equal treatment for men, particularly in the arena of child custody and family law — against the state Family Protection Services Board.

West Virginia is now the second state in the nation (California being the other) to hold that women-only shelters and men-only batterers’ programs are illegal, according to examiner.com‘s Trudy Schuett.

Stucky’s ruling is a major victory for MAWAD, which maintains that allegations of domestic violence and abuse (and the use of domestic violence protective orders) are largely gamesmanship by women to gain the upper hand in divorce and child custody proceedings. (That conclusion was reached in an analysis performed by Ron P. Foster, MAWAD’s local regional director, not exactly an impartial observer.)

The recent academic study of urban vs. rural domestic violence that I wrote about earlier doesn’t see things quite the same way:

[K]ey informants [in rural areas] indicated that women obtain protective orders for revenge or “to get something” which ignores the importance of maintaining women’s safety through meeting their other tangible needs such as financial, residential, and child custody concerns. Protective orders were designed to provide protection and flexibility in meeting women’s specific tangible needs to maintain their safety.

Stucky’s ruling is a major loss for, well, truthful women who need to stay in shelters where they feel safe because men beat the crap out of them.