Challenge Minnesota’s Sexist
“Battered Women Act”
By Will Hageman
The Twin Cities Chapter of the National Coalition of Free Men, R-KIDS of Minnesota (Remember Kids In Divorce Settlements), and the Men’s Defense Association have filed a state court lawsuit to strike down a Minnesota law which allocates public money to assist female victims of domestic violence but denies assistance to males, on the grounds that the law unconstitutionally discriminates against battered men on account of sex.
The law, commonly known as the Battered Women Act, was
written in 1977. The authors based the law on their belief that domestic
violence is always initiated by men, and that the victims are always
women. (Indeed, the authors made it very
clear that the law was intended to benefit women only, and to discriminate
against men; attempts to make the law gender-neutral were voted down in the
Minnesota Legislature.) In fact, over
140 scholarly studies have shown that women initiate domestic violence about as
often as men do, and that nearly as many men as women are battered; many of
these studies were conducted by women.
Dr. Martin Fiebert of the Department of Psychology,
The scholarly studies on domestic violence have been available for years, but the Minnesota Legislature has simply ignored them. The Legislature did amend the law to prohibit discrimination against any battered woman on account of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, marital status, disability, or sexual orientation, but they did nothing to prohibit discrimination against battered men on account of sex.
While men are generally larger and stronger than their partners, women who batter are more likely to use weapons, to strike from behind, and to strike when their partners are asleep, ill, or otherwise less able to defend themselves. Battered women’s advocates who insist that the vast majority of domestic violence victims are women base their claim on police reports, conveniently ignoring the fact that most battered men are very unlikely to tell police that they have been beaten by women. Those men who do report being battered by women are rarely taken seriously, are nearly always ridiculed, and are often arrested by police who have been repeatedly “taught” that in any domestic violence incident, the man must be the guilty party.
In July 2000, R-KIDS of
Eight members of the National Coalition of Free Men – Twin
Cities Chapter, seven members of R-KIDS of
The lawsuit seeks neither to prevent battered women’s shelters from operating with private funding, nor to open battered men’s shelters. The purpose is to end public funding which produces sex discrimination against men in state government and family courts, and to prompt the Legislature to enact a new, nondiscriminatory law based on the findings and recommendations of the leading experts on domestic violence, such as Suzanne Steinmetz, Murray Straus, Martin Fiebert, Michelle Corrado, and Erin Pizzey.
After hearing about the lawsuit, Erin Pizzey, founder of the
first battered women’s shelter in
The lawsuit was filed on