In 2005, Grimilda Figueroa, the ex-wife of Ariel Castro, the man who imprisoned, beat, and sexually abused three women for ten years, brought domestic violence charges against him. Court documents state that Figueroa suffered two broken noses, broken ribs, a knocked-out tooth, two dislocated shoulders, and a blood clot on the brain.
However, nothing could be done to protect Figueroa and her children as her lawyer didn’t show up for the court hearing, and the case was dropped. Apparently her counsel cautioned her against speaking for herself, and she didn’t make any objection to the judge’s decision to dismiss the protection order. Both Figueroa and Castro were judged to have “waived their right to any further hearing”, the case’s final document stated. Tragically, Figueroa died last year.
How did the judge decide to dismiss such a case for something so simple as a lawyer not showing up? Why don’t we have better legal resources for victims of domestic violence? How ill-equipped, poorly run, understaffed, and overworked must our legal system be to let a case like that slide? It’s infuriating and heartbreaking to yet again witness the ease with which such cases are dismissed.
America is failing half of its citizens. This violent man, Ariel Castro, was more protected by our legal system than the women he abused. In 2013, there is slavery in America’s backyard and we look the other way and just let it happen. Here are the stats one more time from National Coalition Against Domestic Violence):
One in four women (25%) has experienced domestic violence in her lifetime.
85% of domestic violence victims are women.
Women ages 20-24 are at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence.
Nearly three out of four (74%) of Americans personally know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence.
On average, more than three women are murdered by their intimate partners in this country every day.
Domestic violence is one of the most chronically under reported crimes.
Only approximately one-quarter of all physical assaults, one-fifth of all rapes, and one-half of all stalkings perpetuated against females by intimate partners are reported to the police.
How are we going to stop it? Support the feminist movement. Here’s a report published in SFGate, 2012:
A new study on violence against women conducted over four decades and in 70 countries reveals the mobilization of feminist movements is more important for change than the wealth of nations, left-wing political parties, or the number of women politicians.
The study in the latest issue of American Political Science Review (APSR), published by Cambridge University Press for the American Political Science Association (APSA), found that in feminist movements that were autonomous from political parties and the state, women were able to articulate and organize around their top priorities as women, without having to answer to broader organizational concerns or mens’ needs. Mobilizing across countries, feminist movements urged governments to approve global and regional norms and agreements on violence.
The scope of data for the study is unprecedented. The study includes every region of the world, varying degrees of democracy, rich and poor countries, and a variety of world religions – it encompasses 85 per cent of the world’s population. Analyzing the data took five years, which is why the most recent year covered is 2005.
2005 also happens to be the year that Ariel Castro’s wife brought the charges against him and her lawyer didn’t care enough to show up in court.