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New York State Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson and Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry introduced a bill in Albany June 7 that would allow judges to shorten prison sentences for survivors of domestic violence who are convicted of crimes directly related to their abuse.

The Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act would also allow judges to recommend programs that serve as alternatives to incarceration, such as community service and defender based advocacy programs. Under the bill, survivors who are currently imprisoned could apply for resentencing.

The bill is grounded in a report announced at the same press conference about barriers– such as parole refusal–that female survivors face in the New York criminal justice system. The report is co-authored by the Avon Global Center for Women and Justice at Cornell Law School and the Women in Prison Project of the Correctional Association of New York.

"The design of the New York criminal law fails to establish minimum sentences that take survivor’s experiences into account," Liz Brundige, associate director of the Avon Global Center, told Women’s eNews in an interview. "This limits their ability to gain admittance to alternative-to-incarceration programs. Other challenges stem from the failures of justice-system actors to fully account for the affects that abuse can have on the actions of survivors."

For more information about survivors in the courts from Women’s eNews archives, read "Sheehan Says the Cop She Married Blocked All Exits" and "NYC Murder Case Hinges Abuse Expert Testimony."

–Krystie Yandoli

More News to Cheer This Week:

  • A majority in Maine’s House opposed bills that would require women who seek abortions to wait 24 hours, to read state-issued information about the procedure and would require minors to obtain parental consent, reported the Portland Press Herald June 8.  The legislation will be considered by the Senate in the coming days.
  • New York Sen. Betty Little and Assemblywoman Linda B. Rosenthal will introduce a bill requiring hotel and motel owners in New York State to provide sexual harassment training to their employees and to provide a clear system for reporting episodes of sexual abuse, reported The New York Times June 7. On June 6, the New York Hotel Worker’s Union site reported 125 New York Hotel & Motel Trades Council members gathered outside of Manhattan Criminal Court to express support for the Sofitel Hotel employee and fellow union member who reported that she was assaulted by Dominique Strauss-Kahn. The former International Monetary Fund Chief Strauss-Kahn pleaded not guilty to charges that he sexually attacked the hotel worker, USA Today reported June 6. The next court date was set for July 18 at 2 p.m.
  • Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, N.Y.-28, and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., have introduced legislation to provide America’s women in uniform with the same rights to reproductive choice as most other employees of the federal government, reported the Service Women’s Action Network in a June 6 press statement. The MARCH for Military Women Act (Military Access to Reproductive Care and Health) would lift the statutory ban that denies U.S. servicewomen coverage for abortion care in cases of rape or incest and prevents women in the military from using private funds to access abortion services at U.S. military facilities.
  • Rear Adm. Sandra L. Stosz became the first woman ever to lead one of the nation’s military academies when she began serving as the Coast Guard Academy’s superintendent, reported The Day June 2.
  • The California Assembly passed a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights June 2, reported the Ms. Foundation for Women on June 7. The motion would grant basic workplace protections, including vacation days, the right to overtime pay, redress for workplace sexual harassment and discrimination and the right to at least five hours of uninterrupted sleep each night, reported New America Media June 7.


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The International Criminal Court’s Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo says he is gathering evidence that may lead to charging the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi with ordering the systematic rape of women considered enemies of his regime, reported The Sydney Morning Herald June 10. Moreno-Ocampo said he had evidence of "widespread" rapes numbering more than 100 in at least one area, and of the government distributing drugs that enhance sexual performance.

Moreno-Ocampo said he would likely request that rape be added to the charges included in the arrest warrant he presented to the Hague-based court’s pretrial chamber on May 16. He said he would wait to file the additional charge until the judges rule on his call for the arrest of Gaddafi, his son, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, and Abdullah el-Sanussi, a Libyan security official.

More News to Jeer This Week:

  • Alabama lawmakers passed a bill June 9 that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, reported Reuters June 10. If signed into law by Republican Gov. Robert Bentley, the measure would make Alabama the sixth state to ban abortion after 20 weeks.
  • The Pennsylvania Senate approved a bill June 7 enforcing a limit on abortion coverage. The bill, which passed with a 37-12 margin, prohibits abortion coverage from private health insurance exchanges that are expected to begin in 2014, reported The Associated Press.
  • The Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, a political organization based in Washington, D.C., has created an ad campaign targeting Latinos’ abortion rates, reported The Daily Caller June 7. The billboard reads: "El lugar mas peligroso para un Latino es el vientre de su madre/The most dangerous place for a Latino is in the womb."


  • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been in discussions with the White House about leaving her job next year to become head of the World Bank, reported Reuters June 9.
  • A study of 3,000 adults shows that Americans, regardless of generation, are deeply conflicted as they wrestle with the legality and morality of abortion, reported The Associated Press June 9. While 56 percent of those in the survey say abortion should be legal in most or all cases, 52 percent say abortion is morally wrong.
  • Of the young people worldwide who make up an estimated 41 percent of new HIV/AID infections, the majority of them — more than 60 percent — are young women, with numbers rising to an alarming high of 72 percent in sub-Saharan Africa, UN Women said in a press statement on June 7.
  • The Iranian women’s soccer team was banned from a 2012 Olympic qualifier match against Jordan after a ruling that their Islamic dress broke FIFA rules, reported The Guardian June 6. Article No. 4 of the FIFA constitution says uniforms should be "devoid of politics or religion."
  • Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York admitted June 6 that he had repeatedly lied to his constituents and the country in denying that he had sent a lewd picture of himself to a college-age woman on Twitter, reported The Washington Post June 6. He said during a news conference that he had in fact sent multiple inappropriate messages to multiple women but that he had done nothing illegal and would not resign.

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