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Place Matters: Domestic Violence and Rural Difference


Lisa R. Pruitt


University of California, Davis - School of Law

September 30, 2008

Wisconsin Journal of Law, Gender & Society, Volume 23, p. 347 2008
UC Davis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 149

Abstract:     
This Article considers the phenomenon of domestic violence in relation to the rural-urban axis. Written for a symposium commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Feminism and Legal Theory Project at the University of Wisconsin, it assesses the difference that rurality makes to the occurrence, investigation, prosecution, and judicial decision-making regarding this crime. Among the factors analyzed are spatial or geographic isolation, along with the social isolation and lack of anonymity it fosters; severe economic disadvantage; the entrenched nature of rural patriarchy; and legal actors who are often ill-informed about domestic violence and constrained by limited resources. These rural differences are presented through the lens of critical geography, using space, place and scale as analytical tools.

The Article thus provides an illustration of rurality as difference - difference from what has become the implicit urban norm in legal scholarship and in a great deal of law- and policy-making. It concludes by arguing for place-specific responses aimed at diminishing the obstacles to justice that confront rural victims of domestic violence. It further asserts that the solutions to this social problem must be multi-scalar (or multi-jurisdictional), using local know-how that is informed by universal norms that establish women's rights and dignity.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 72

Keywords: domestic violence, gender, geography, intimate partner violence, women, crime, social problems, space, place, scale, feminism, feminist legal theory, rural, urban

JEL Classification: K10, K14, K40, K42

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Date posted: October 1, 2008 ; Last revised: March 13, 2009

Suggested Citation

Pruitt, Lisa R., Place Matters: Domestic Violence and Rural Difference (September 30, 2008). Wisconsin Journal of Law, Gender & Society, Volume 23, p. 347 2008 ; UC Davis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 149. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1276045

Contact Information

Lisa R. Pruitt (Contact Author)
University of California, Davis - School of Law ( email )
Martin Luther King, Jr. Hall
Davis, CA 95616-5201
United States
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