Shifting Power for Battered Women: Law, Material Resources and Poor Women of Color
U.C. Davis Law Review, Vol. 33, pp. 1009, 2000
49 Pages Posted: 27 Feb 2012
Date Written: 2000
This Essay treats as central the experiences of Latinas and other women of color who are battered by intimate partners and suggests a test for evaluating anti-domestic violence law and policy that builds on those experiences. I argue that any proposed anti-domestic violence law or policy should be subjected to a material resources test, with the result that priority should be given to those laws and policies which improve women’s access to material resources. Further, because women’s circumstances differ in ways that dramatically affect their access to material resources, the standard for determining the impact on material resources should be the situation of women in the greatest need who are most dramatically affected by inequalities of gender, race, and class. In other words, poor women and, in many circumstances, poor women of color should provide the standard of measurement. Adoption of a material resource test addresses four problems of current domestic violence policy: the lack of attention in research and policy to the importance of race and ethnicity in shaping women’s experiences of battering and the institutional responses they receive; the tendency to ignore the ways in which poverty makes women more vulnerable to domestic violence; the development of increasingly punitive responses to batterers without evidence of increased benefits for battered women; the pervasive and incorrect assumption that separation from an abuser guarantees safety for battered women, or is the only desirable response.
Keywords: domestic violence, battering, feminist theory, critical race feminist theory, sex discrimination, criminal law, violence against women, poverty
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