Massive Human Rights Abuses in the Name of Stopping Abuse
By: Carey Roberts
Remember Colleen Nester? She was the forlorn New Mexico woman who claimed she was being harassed by TV talk show host David Letterman, who was allegedly beaming mental telepathic messages and using televised facial gestures. Under New Mexico law, harassment is a form of domestic violence, so Ms. Nester was granted a restraining order.
Domestic violence is defined so broadly these days that just raising your voice is now considered grounds for state invention. The mere allegation of abuse invites a draconian response, requiring the man to vacate his home and avoid any contact with the woman or even his own children.
Many believe protective orders do more harm than good. â€œFew lives, if any, have been saved, but much harm, and possibly loss of lives, has comes from the issuance of restraining orders,â€ writes Milton Raphaelson, retired judge from the Dudley, Mass. District Court.
But the somber voice of reason is drowned out by the shrill clatter of advocates who argue we must nip abusive situations in the bud, even if innocent men must be falsely accused and constitutional protections set aside.
In the United States, one million restraining orders are issued each year without even an allegation of violence â€“ recall the David Letterman dust-up. [source] State-sanctioned disdain of civil liberties has now spread to foreign lands.
Earlier this year Mexican lawmakers passed a new domestic violence law that allows authorities to issue emergency protective orders. Now a conviction of being jealous or sexually indifferent can land a hapless man in jail.
In Costa Rica, an American ex-patriate was recently put behind bars when he told his girlfriendâ€™s son to stop painting satanic symbols on the wall. One police officer noted, â€œWomen in Costa Rica are taking advantage of this new law. They throw out their boyfriend and then steal their things and leave.â€
In Canada, â€œjudges routinely hold five-minute hearings at the start of the day and make ex parte orders without any inquiries as to why the opposing party cannot be notified,â€ reveals Louise Malenfant of Parents Helping Parents.
In Israel, the Knesset recently appointed a committee to probe the extent of false claims of domestic violence. Last month Dr. Orli Iness of the University of Haifa revealed, â€œthere have been reports that in some precincts the figure is as high as 50%.â€
A 1999 survey of judicial magistrates in Australia concluded that â€œalmost 90% believe domestic violence orders were used by applicants â€“ often on the advice of a solicitor â€“ as a tactic in family court proceedings to deprive their partners of access to their children.â€
Libertarian Casandra Hewitt-Reid of New Zealand describes her countryâ€™s Domestic Violence Act in these terms: â€œit is possible for a perfectly innocent man, who has done nothing outside the law, to be sent to prison on one personâ€™s unsubstantiated word.â€
In Germany, Michael Bock, criminology professor at the University of Mainz, reveals that the so-called Force Law (Gewaltschutzgesetz) â€œgives an effective tool to the hands of mothers who want to separate children from their fathers. … It is not meant to start a constructive dialog between the parties, but to expropriate, disempower, lock out, and punish men.â€
Last year Maria Sanahuja, chief justice in Barcelona, Spain issued a scathing commentary on her countryâ€™s Gender Violence Law. Sanahuja rebuked the law as representing a â€œrepugnant violation of fundamental rightsâ€ that has caused â€œenormous pain to tens of thousands of men.â€ Sanahujaâ€™s acid opinion concludes, â€œThe massive detention of men for scarcely any reason is a characteristic of totalitarian countries.â€
In India the situation has reached crisis proportions. Section 498a of the Cruelty Against Women Law has lead to widespread arrests of husbands with no evidence of wrong-doing. Because the law states the manâ€™s relatives are likely accessories to the crime, many thousands of brothers, sisters, and elderly parents have also been wrongly imprisoned. In 2005 the Indian Supreme Court labeled the egregious abuses of Section 498a to be an â€œassassinâ€™s weaponâ€ and a form of â€œlegal terrorism.â€
Last April a group known as RADAR (Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting) sent a letter to Senator Joseph Biden, pleading that he not introduce a bill ominously called the International Violence Against Women Act. [source]
Earlier this month, Senator Biden shrugged off the concerns and introduced the Act. If passed, the law would send $175 million of taxpayer money to foreign governments to issue more restraining orders and to kick men out of their homes without evidence or proof.
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Carey Roberts is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.