06 July 2010

Arizona SB1070 Puts Abused Women, Reporters of Abuse, at Risk

Another entry into the debate about how SB1070 is going to affect the residents of Arizona -- particularly the women among them: According to representatives from the Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence, which represents 35 domestic abuse centers and other organizations in the state, SB1070 is destined to jeopardize the safety of women and families subject to domestic abuse -- by dissuading them from seeking help for themselves and others out of fear that they might be deported as a result.

As Kendra Leiby, the Coalition's systems advocacy coordinator, told Arizona Republic columnist E.J. Montini,
The enactment of SB 1070 is absolutely going to prevent immigrant women from seeking domestic violence services. And not only are women going to be hesitant to leave abusive relationships, but they are afraid to make a call to report someone else's abuse.
So not only is the law likely to deprive women at risk of the ability to act to protect themselves, but it is also likely to prevent friends and neighbors from taking action on their behalf, because the consequence of reporting said abuse could be deportation -- even for the person who simply picked up the phone to save a woman's life.

Though the US does not have the kind of "good samaritan" laws that require people to act on behalf of others, as they do in other nations, this still constitutes a serious breakdown in our social contract -- and completely undermines the decades of work activists and organizers have dedicated to raising awareness about gender-based violence and the responsibility every single one of us has to bring the abuse of women to an end. If saving a life means putting your own family, and its livelihood, at risk, how many people can reasonably be expected to take action? The answer is far fewer than we need if we hope to make violence against women a thing of the past -- in the immigrant community or any other.

As July 29th (the day that the new law in scheduled to go into effect) draws nearer, more and more organizations and individuals from around the country are taking a public stand to denounce a bill that they see as not only discriminatory, but also life-threatening. To date, over 80 organizations -- including Ms. Foundation grantee Legal Momentum --have filed legal challenges to the bill, in support of a lawsuit initiated by the ACLU. And on July 29th, people from all over the nation will gather together in Arizona, and around the country, for a Day of Non-Compliance to protest this unjust law.

Stay tuned for more information about how to participate in upcoming events; in the meantime, check out the four actions Ms. Foundation grantee the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights suggests you take to stand up for the rights of Arizona's immigrant communities.

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