Punishing women

More news in the Punishing Women department…

In Kathryn Joyce’s piece Shotgun Adoption, she writes how pregnancy crisis centers are punishing women and not serving the best interest of the child:

Karen Wilson-Buterbaugh, founder of the Baby Scoop Era Research Initiative, has compiled sociological studies from the era, including Clark Vincent’s speculation in his 1961 book Unmarried Mothers that “if the demand for adoptable babies continues to exceed the supply…it is quite possible that, in the near future, unwed mothers will be ‘punished’ by having their children taken from them right after birth”–under the guise of protecting the “best interests of the child.”

The Baby Scoop Era ended with Roe v. Wade, as abortion was legalized and single motherhood gained acceptance. The resultant fall in adoption rates was drastic, from 19.2 percent of white, unmarried pregnant women in 1972 to 1.7 percent in 1995 (and lower among women of color). Coinciding with this decline was the rise of the religious right and the founding of crisis pregnancy centers.

Joyce describes this industry as such:

Such enthusiasm for Christians to adopt en masse begins to seem like a demand in need of greater supply, and this is how critics of current practices describe it: as an industry that coercively separates willing biological parents from their offspring, artificially producing “orphans” for Christian parents to adopt, rather than helping birth parents care for wanted children.

Fewer legal rights for mothers…

Even as women have gained better reproductive healthcare access, adoption laws have become less favorable for birth mothers, advancing the time after birth when a mother can relinquish–in some states now within twenty-four hours–and cutting the period to revoke consent drastically or completely. Adoption organizations have published comparative lists of state laws, almost as a catalog for prospective adopters seeking states that restrict birth parent rights. Among the worst is Utah.

Coercion, control and legal means to do it.

“A lot of those moms from the ’50s and ’60s were really damaged by losing their child through the maternity homes,” says Gregory. “People say those kinds of things don’t happen anymore. But they do. It’s just not a maternity home on every corner; it’s a CPC.”

I have news for people – the conservatives are doing the same thing to divorced (Heaven forbid!!) women – they are punishing women for making reports of abuse, trying to make marriage more difficult to leave, promoting men as better parents and taking children away from women.

Custody catastrophes

In this week’s custody catastrophe news, we have:

Baby’s father, charged with murder, upset by relocation plan

GARY — Distraught because his 19-month-old daughter might move with her mother to Texas, Cordell Richardson took the girl and, according to police, said “nobody was going to take his daughter away” before shooting and killing her.

Richardson, 22, is charged with murder in the death of the girl, Eboni Richardson. Police said he shot her in downtown Gary on Thursday just as he was expected to turn her over to her uncle. Then he shot himself in the head.

Don’t you love this last sentence?

“He loved that baby,” Johnson said.

Yes, that’s the sentence I would end with in writing about a father who kills his 19-month-old daughter.

California dad on trial over drowning son, 6 in bathtub

SANTA ANA – A father faces trial for murdering his 6-year-old son by drowning him in a bathtub after becoming angry that his wages would be garnished to support his son and ex-wife.

Gideon Walter Omondi, 38, of Fullerton, is charged with one felony count of murder and one felony count of attempted murder.

He faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life if convicted.

Opening statements are scheduled to begin Thursday.

Omondi moved to the United States in 2002 from Kenya to attend the California State University in Fullerton.

In 2004, his wife and young son, Richie Omondi, also moved to California to join him.

The defendant, who was illegally working several jobs while on a student visa, is accused of wanting to send his wife and son back to Kenya claiming it was too expensive to support a family in Orange County.

When his wife refused, Omondi is accused of filing for divorce. After the divorce, Omondi and his ex-wife were granted joint custody. Omondi is accused of becoming angry that his wages would be garnished to support his ex-wife and son.

On Jan. 6, 2006, Omondi is accused of becoming angry following a family court hearing.

He is accused of driving with his son to a desolate stretch of highway near Bakersfield with the intention of murdering Richie and killing himself.

Omondi is accused of parking the car on the side of the road, dousing the trunk of his BMW sedan with gasoline, and closing himself and his son in the trunk with matches in his pocket with the intention of setting the trunk on fire.

A passing California Highway Patrol officer noticed the car and stopped to check on it, believing it had been abandoned. The officer observed shoes outside of the trunk of the car and opened the trunk, finding the defendant and his son inside.

Omondi is accused of claiming that the pair had been sleeping. The officer allowed the defendant to leave but documented the contact.

On Sept. 8, 2006, Omondi, who had custody of his son for the weekend, is accused of picking up 6-year-old Richie from day care.

At approximately 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 10, 2006, Omondi is accused of filling up his bathtub in his Fullerton apartment and intentionally drowning Richie. He is accused of then removing his son’s lifeless body and leaving him on the bed for two hours.

At approximately 9:30 p.m., Omondi is accused of driving to the Fullerton Police Department (FPD) to tell them about his son.

Officers from FPD went to Omondi’s home and found Richie dead in the bed, under the covers, with his head on the pillow. The pillow was still wet from the victim being placed there after being drowned.

So, one guy wants his wife to STAY and the other wants her to GO. Why is it that some of these men kill if they don’t get their way? What is a custodial parent’s rights in regard to where he or she chooses to live? And, WHY did this man continue to have custody after attemping a murder-suicide?!?

And, here’s another:

Assigned to check abuse, social worker impregnates client

A state social worker who investigated a report of child abuse for the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare later had sex with the child’s emotionally troubled mother and impregnated her. He then hid the woman’s pregnancy and the birth of their daughter from the bureau, even as the mother sought to retain custody of two other children, the Journal Sentinel has learned.

The 56-year-old social worker, Peter J. Nelsen, was allowed to resign from the bureau April 15, according to bureau records.

Within months of his resignation, the bureau removed the 1-year-old girl from her mother and placed her in Nelsen’s home. The other children – a 5-year-old girl and a 3-year-old boy – also had been removed.

Nelsen is now seeking sole custody of the 1-year-old.

“Everything that I love is gone,” said the 31-year-old mother, Theola Nealy.

And, Nelsen has the nerve to say:

“This was not a woman I was going to leave my child with,” he said. “This woman really isn’t all there.”

So, he fucked her and kept the baby. Who was it, a prime minister in Japan that called women baby machines? I suppose that’s what this woman was seen as by Nelsen and his accomplices.

Denial runs deep

I’ve often asked, is it a deniar or a liar? Allegations of abuse are often met with disbelief. Sites claiming “false allegations” imprison innocent men run into the hundreds of thousands (google ‘false allegations’ to see for yourself). We use “alleged” rapist or murderer and offer potential perps more rights than victims, who have had their identities revealed in print and who have been bashed for reporting abuse (think of any woman who has ever accused a professional athlete). On the other hand, denial runs deep among the accused, yet we never hear about this phenomenom.

Here’s an article about a man jailed for molesting an 8th grader and then goes on to sue the victim for defamation charges:

Defamation conspiracy leads to judgment against molestation victim 

In 1999, Cutlip was an eighth-grader in Ashland, Ohio, and Copeland-Jackson, then 26, was one of his tutors. Copeland-Jackson molested Cutlip while helping the 14-year-old on a school project. He was convicted of two counts of gross sexual imposition of Cutlip and another boy and sentenced to three years in state prison, court records show.

While in an Ohio prison, he befriended Brandel, a paralegal who had learned about the case and believed that Copeland-Jackson had been wrongly accused, federal prosecutors said.

Copeland-Jackson was released from prison in late 2003. He changed his name legally to Xavier Justice in 2004, but he used both identities interchangeably and filed the federal suit under his original name, prosecutors said.


Copeland-Jackson then filed court papers in which Brandel swore that Cutlip had told him he was “sorry for lying” about the sex abuse accusations. Over the next few months, Copeland-Jackson even filed court papers on behalf of Cutlip — forging his signature on the documents — saying the allegations had been false and he didn’t wish to contest the defamation suit, federal prosecutors allege.

He moved to the District to live with his mother, and in 2006 he contacted Brandel and they started work on a scheme that they hoped would “coerce or fool” Cutlip into recanting his accusations, Assistant U.S. Attorney James Mitzelfeld wrote in court papers.

“I did not have any kind of sexual contact with David Copeland-Jackson,” Cutlip supposedly wrote in one document. “I willfully lied.”

In June, Copeland-Jackson filed his $3 million defamation of character lawsuit against Cutlip before U.S. District Judge Ellen S. Huvelle. He alleged that he was defamed by “false comments to third parties that [he] engaged in certain homosexual activities with” him.

Copeland-Jackson, who represented himself, soon filed court papers falsely claiming that the suit had been served on Cutlip, and Brandel signed an affidavit, under penalty of perjury, that he had handed the papers to Cutlip.

In the 1980s there was “false memory syndrome,” which claimed the victims had a false memory that they strongly believed in. Today there’s false allegations and the media pay more attention to these stories than to unreported or underreported cases of abuse (like rape) or to understanding why we fail to detect or to believe cases of abuse. Consider the study done by Stanton (1997). Stanton looked at 4 popular press magazines and found that in 1991 more than 80% were weighted towards survivors, but in 1994 more than 80% were focused on false allegations (see: Bias in psychiatric diagnosis). I’d be interested in seeing a study that compared men making false allegations to women making them. Bala & Schuman, for example, found that more men make false allegations in family court than women, but we never hear about it:

This indicates that the problem of deliberate fabrication by noncustodial parents (largely fathers)

is more prevalent than deliberate fabrications of abuse by custodial parents (largely mothers) and their


Women more likely to be arrested for domestic violence

We have a long way to go, baby. And the road is uphill.

Here’s a recent article in the Guardian citing research that says women are MORE likely to be arrested for domestic violence. Could it be that women are STILL less credible than men? …

The new study, by professor Marianne Hester of the University of Bristol’s school for policy studies and carried out on behalf of the Northern Rock Foundation, looked at 96 examples from 692 “perpetrator profiles” tracked from 2001 to 2007.

The research looked at 32 cases where women were the aggressors, 32 where men were in that role, and 32 where it was both partners.

It found that 48% of the cases were related to couples still in a relationship, 27% involved violence after separation and the rest involved couples in the process of splitting up.

Some 83% of men had at least two incidents recorded; one man had 52. In contrast, 62% of women recorded as perpetrators had only one incident recorded, and the highest number of repeat incidents for any woman was eight.

Men were significantly more likely than women to use physical violence, threats and harassment, and to damage the women’s property; women were more likely to damage their own.

Men’s violence tended to create a “context of fear and control”, the researchers said, whereas women were more likely to use verbal abuse or some physical violence.

But women were more likely to use a weapon, although this was often to stop further violence from their partners.

All cases with seven or more incidents, most of which involved men, led to arrest.

But in general, women were three times more likely to be arrested: during the six-year period, men were arrested once in every 10 incidents and women arrested once in every three.

Read: Women three times more likely to be arrested for domestic violence



Three billion dollars. That’s how much money the government spent in about two months on the Cash-for-Clunkers program: US Cash-for-Clunkers Roars to Finish Line


Three hundred billion dollars. That’s how much is spent on prisons in a 5-year time span: High Cost of Prisons Not Paying Off, Report Finds.


One and a half to 3 million women and girls. That’s how many women and girls are estimated to be killed by violence from an intimate partner or family member in the world in one year:  Women and Gendercide


At least 3 women. That’s how many women are killed by domestic violence in the United States in one day, every day:  Prevalence of Domestic Violence


Three million children. That’s how many children are exposed to domestic violence each day, resulting in depression, anxiety, behavioral and physical problems: Behind Closed Doors


Three billion dollars. That’s how much money the government spends in 5 years on the Violence Against Women Act: Office on Violence Against Women


The US government spent $3 billion dollars on the Cash-for-Clunkers program in two months, $300 billion on prison systems in 5 years and $3 billion on VAWA in 5 years.

I’d say the government thinks more of prisoners and clunkers than it does of women.

Silent screams

Remember the dream you had when you wanted to let out a scream and not a sound was heard?

Well, that’s how I often feel when women talk about violence – as if we’re talking over and over again and nobody is listening – as if no words were even coming out of our mouths.

Please read this interview with Shira Tarrant called Six questions on men and feminism.

Here’s an excerpt referring to the recent Bob Herbert article on Women at risk:

There was a lot of discussion in the feminist blogosphere about Herbert’s piece. The conversations I read were by female feminists. On the one hand, there was a sense that women had been calling out misogyny for years, decades, centuries. And then along comes a man who has column space and huge visibility through the New York Times. Some women were pissed, because it seemed that the media listened more when a man talked about issues that women have been vocalizing for so long.

I’ve said exactly what Herbert wrote in his column—that if any other single group of people were being systematically assaulted there would be mass public outrage. The problem is that violence against women is so often invisible. Or it happens so often it just seems normal. Violence against women is even fodder for entertainment. The story plots of entire TV shows and films revolve around violence against women. Can you imagine seeing similar story lines—on a regular basis—that revolved around systematic violence or sexual assault against another single group of people? People would be speaking out, boycotting, demanding change.


Saving the world’s women

When I started reading this piece in the New York Times Magazine, I wanted to scream, “They get it! They finally get it!” Well, they’re close enough anyway and I’ll take this as a very positive step forward.

Saving the world’s women is a 7-page article written by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.

Traditionally, the status of women was seen as a “soft” issue — worthy but marginal. We initially reflected that view ourselves in our work as journalists. We preferred to focus instead on the “serious” international issues, like trade disputes or arms proliferation. Our awakening came in China.

After we married in 1988, we moved to Beijing to be correspondents for The New York Times. Seven months later we found ourselves standing on the edge of Tiananmen Square watching troops fire their automatic weapons at prodemocracy protesters. The massacre claimed between 400 and 800 lives and transfixed the world; wrenching images of the killings appeared constantly on the front page and on television screens.

Yet the following year we came across an obscure but meticulous demographic study that outlined a human rights violation that had claimed tens of thousands more lives. This study found that 39,000 baby girls died annually in China because parents didn’t give them the same medical care and attention that boys received — and that was just in the first year of life. A result is that as many infant girls died unnecessarily every week in China as protesters died at Tiananmen Square. Those Chinese girls never received a column inch of news coverage, and we began to wonder if our journalistic priorities were skewed.

A similar pattern emerged in other countries. In India, a “bride burning” takes place approximately once every two hours, to punish a woman for an inadequate dowry or to eliminate her so a man can remarry — but these rarely constitute news. When a prominent dissident was arrested in China, we would write a front-page article; when 100,000 girls were kidnapped and trafficked into brothels, we didn’t even consider it news.

Finally, an awakening!!!

The global statistics on the abuse of girls are numbing. It appears that more girls and women are now missing from the planet, precisely because they are female, than men were killed on the battlefield in all the wars of the 20th century. The number of victims of this routine “gendercide” far exceeds the number of people who were slaughtered in all the genocides of the 20th century.

I’ve also read that 1.5 to 3 million women and girls are killed each year (the source was the Economist). That’s a Holocaust every 3 years….It’s about time the media started to pay attention.

For those women who live, mistreatment is sometimes shockingly brutal. If you’re reading this article, the phrase “gender discrimination” might conjure thoughts of unequal pay, underfinanced sports teams or unwanted touching from a boss. In the developing world, meanwhile, millions of women and girls are actually enslaved.

Well, sadly the authors are not as up to date about the conditions of women in the USA – sexual assaults on campus, rape in our communities, low prosecution rates of rape and high rates of not reporting, misogyny in music and media, gender-based violence as a form of entertainment, dating violence, domestic violence, becoming homeless due to violence, losing custody of children to a batterer, the use of pseudo-science in family court, low credibility of women and children, homicide of pregnant women, homicide of prostitutes, mutilation of bodies, porn culture, facial abuse, stalking, etc. etc. etc.

We may have it better than women elsewhere, but we still don’t have equality in the USA. We face many problems related to poverty and violence. And, on fact, I believe our country ranks #27 on the Gender Equality Index scales. We have a long way to go, baby.

If poor families spent only as much on educating their children as they do on beer and prostitutes, there would be a breakthrough in the prospects of poor countries.

We could do the same in America and we can call this program, “Porn to Poverty.” Come on, fellas, will you give up your prostitutes and porn to help alleve poverty?

I have to say I believe  a man had to be one of these writers, because when women say things like this, while it can be the truth, we are labeled man-haters. (Strange how those working on child abuse are not adult-haters and those working with the poor are not rich-bashers).

It has long been known that a risk factor for turbulence and violence is the share of a country’s population made up of young people. Now it is emerging that male domination of society is also a risk factor; the reasons aren’t fully understood, but it may be that when women are marginalized the nation takes on the testosterone-laden culture of a military camp or a high-school boys’ locker room.

Is that why I feel like I’m living in the O.K. Corral here in the US – with all our guns rights folks, violence on TV and in movies, and violence in our communities? And why we have to have highly sexualized women in the media but not men? It sure does feel like a boys locker room.

The article ends by giving recommendations on how to incorporate women into aid programs. 

Over at Shakesville, Melissa McEwan wrote a great blog on this NY Times article. I wholeheartedly agree with her that the writers never say “who” the oppressors are, but that’s common. Many of us are still not able to boldly state that men have committed violence towards women. No way, then they’ll brand us as man-haters. The media, ever so careful and ever so male-dominated, have always used this passive construct as well. If you think about it, writers are taught to use the active voice not the passive one – yet, writers continue to write about violence towards women in the passive voice.  

Here’s Melissa’s blog:   

Here’s your big chance to ask: What about the men?



Brutal murders

I’ve just come across two stories of brutal murders of women that have sickened me – one because of their horrific nature and two because of how we deal with them.

Here’s a story that has a headline where breast implants seem to trump how gruesome this death really was:

Ex-model’s breast implants were key to body’s ID

The remains of a former model whose killing set off an international manhunt for a reality television star were so badly mutilated that investigators had to use the serial numbers on her breast implants to identify her.

This woman was mutilated and the headline uses words like “ex-model”, and “breast implants”? Her former career had less to do with her murder than the fact that she was female. Her implants may have been key to identifying her body but certainly this fact trumped how mutilated she was in this headline.

I remember the case of the gay man tied to a fence and beaten to death – the country was outraged. And when a Black man was sodomized with a bat by police officers, the nation questioned police brutality. Why, then, do we not even blink an eye when a woman was so badly mutilated?

And here’s another one:

Man goes from heroic husband to hammer-wielding wife killer

On January 27, 2007, with his parents downstairs watching TV with the door shut and his infant son in the other room, prosecutors said, Ratley put on a pair of thick black gloves, grabbed a heavy-duty hammer and went into the bedroom where his wife was lying down after taking some medication. He lifted the hammer and “savagely and brutally beat her on the head over and over” — at least seven times, said Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda.

Aside from strangulation (which, I believe,  is not even against the law in some states when it is attempted), bludgeoning must be one of the most cruel forms of murder.

I’m simply not sure if I’m more sickened, saddened or angered.

Women’s attitudes toward domestic violence

Our attitudes are shaped by many factors: culture, religion, media, school, family, etc. So a situation like domestic violence should be seen from a holistic viewpoint. I’ve traveled to Guatemala, where it’s not uncommon for women to experience domestic violence, have to ask permission to  leave the house and to be confined to the house if she’s “too pretty.” Women are simply not valued even though they labor in the house, cook meals, care for children, wash laundry by hand, etc.  I believe many factors contribute to their attitudes about being a woman just as many factors dictate how men are to behave. When women aren’t valued or offered opportunities, their potential is stunted, their self-worth suffers, and abuse can occur.

Domestic violence takes place in every country, so one particular culture is not to blame although it can play a role in how prevalent abuse is. I would also state that culture is no excuse for us to ignore abuse. I’ve read posts on the Internet where people say that we shouldn’t impose our Western values or our own morals on others. But that’s not how public health and human rights work — culture can be respected but nothing trumps health and human rights. All human beings – women included – have a right to safety as a human right. There is something known as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, spearheaded by Eleanor Roosevelt, that these commentators should read.

Anyway, here is a blog post from Change.org that provides a graph by Unicef on the percentage of women that accept domestic violence as “inevitable” – as if violence should be tolerated and husbands have this “right.” This, clearly, is a distorted  notion of “rights.”

A global look at women’s attitudes toward domestic abuse

Failure to report vs. false allegations

In this corner, we have “failure to report,” a situation where a person fails to report child abuse.  The person can be fined or jailed.

And in this corner, we have “false allegations,” a charge that a person (women are often to blame) makes a malicously false allegation (to see how popular this is, google “false allegations” and see all the fathers’ rights sites pop up).  A person can be fined, jailed or lose custody over a supposedly “false” allegation.


Round one begins:

CPS: Child beating victim in very serious condition

JASPER COUNTY – Investigators say the father of a 5-year-old boy chased him around the yard with a chainsaw after beating him so severely the youngster is now in very critical condition at a hospital.

The child’s father, John Cornelius, 24, is charged with Injury to a Child and jailed on a $500,000 bond.  Cornelius’ girlfriend, Jessie Waddell, and her mother, Wanda Macks, 54, are charged with Injury to a Child and Failure to Report an injury.  Their bonds are a total of $140,000 each. 

Waddell isn’t the boy’s biological mother.

Shari Pulliam with Child Protective Services says Waddell and Macks told investigators Cornelius chased his 5-year-old son around the yard with a chainsaw last weekend because he was mad the child complained that his leg hurt after he was beaten. 

The boy had surgery Wednesday night and underwent a third operation Thursday afternoon at a Houston hospital. Pulliam says he’s in critical condition and adjusting to a ventilator.

Pulliam says the boy has a MRSA staph infection which began in his leg and spread throughout his body. 

Judge dismisses abuse allegations

In the last two years, Nicole Vanosdel has made at least three reports of alleged sex abuse involving her ex-husband. The reports included allegations of touching, kissing and fondling alleged by their daughter, the mother said.

Each time, Iowa’s Department of Human Services has not found enough evidence to confirm, or found, the girl’s accounts, Nicole Vanosdel said.

On Friday, the girl called 911 again, alleging she had suffered abuse – but not that night. She was questioned, examined at a hospital and placed in Children’s Square shelter with about 10 other children.

She remained at the shelter until Wednesday, when her mother, the primary custodial parent, was allowed to pick her up. Vanosdel said she has a 15-year-old daughter from another relationship, and she has no problems allowing the teen to visit her father.

Child abuse experts said Wednesday that most allegations of sex abuse wind up not being prosecuted for lack of evidence.

“Often, all you have is the child’s word,” said Donita Faust, a licensed social worker and forensic interviewer for the regional children’s protection center at Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines.

However, Faust and other experts said young children rarely lie about such things. And it’s extremely rare for young children to lie consistently about sex abuse.

Can’t we sue judges for “failure to prosecute”?! 

Why don’t we believe the children?!  The father countered her claim of sexual abuse with the pseudo-scientific claim of parental alienation syndrome (PAS). PAS has been discredited by the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Prosecutors Research Institute and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. YET THIS JUDGE BELIEVES THE FATHER’S CLAIM OF PAS AND NOT THE CHILD’S CLAIM OF SEXUAL ABUSE.  

Failure to report vs. false allegations have put women between a rock and hard place, especially in family court. Don’t report abuse and you can be fined or jailed. Report abuse and get branded a liar – moreover, you can be fined, jailed or lose custody for making a “false” allegation of abuse. That means your child will live with the person who is allegedly abusing him or her. Laws that punish people for “false allegations” are on the rise due to many fathers’ rights groups lobbying efforts. Punishment deters reporting. One has to wonder why fathers would want to punish people for making abuse allegations – doesn’t sound very fatherly to me, does it to you?

More rounds to come…