Womens Justice Center

News Round-up ~ Resumen de noticias


 Nine out of 10 migrants seen by psychologists showed anxiety or depression symptoms caused by rape, assault or kidnapping, MSF survey finds

Central American migrants are suffering from record levels of mental health problems, amid a rise in violent attacks after a US-sponsored immigration crackdown forced them to use more perilous routes through Mexico.

Two-thirds of migrants interviewed at shelters across the country reported suffering at least one violent attack – such as assault, rape or kidnapping – during their journey, according to a survey conducted by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and shared exclusively with the Guardian.

MSF runs three clinics in Mexico, providing care to injured and traumatized migrants with a team of doctors, psychologists and social workers.

Nine out of 10 migrants seen by MSF psychologists this year showed symptoms of anxiety or depression caused by violence and threats suffered during the journey – a three-fold increase since 2014.

The increase in violence against Central American migrants in Mexico is largely down to the Southern Border Plan, an immigration clampdown launched in July 2014 after a surge of unaccompanied minors and families at the US border.

American aid supported the deployment of thousands of Mexican troops to patrol alongside immigration agents. Checkpoints were set up along established migrant routes, forcing people to take even greater risks on their journey north.

Instead of traveling through southern Mexico by catching a ride on top of a freight train known as “La Bestia”, most now journey by bus, on foot or by sea along isolated routes where armed bandits, kidnappers and human traffickers operate with almost total impunity.



Central America's rampant violence fuels an invisible refugee crisis


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Oct. 19, 2016 - Ni Una Menos demonstrations spurred by rape and killing of 16-year-old Lucía Pérez as thousands of protesters call for action on crimes against women


Madrid, La Paz, Lima, Santiago, Ciudad de México y Buenos Aires: miles de mujeres salieron a las calles ayer para exigir justicia, seguridad y libertad.

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António Guterres's election as the new UN Secretary-General is a stark illustration of how male-dominated decision-making means that female leadership is not just rare, but virtually inconceivable.

António Guterres, the new Secretary General. Khalid Mohammed AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved.

António Guterres, former Prime Minister of Portugal, former High Commissioner of the UN’s agency for supporting refugees, will be the next UN Secretary-General.  The decision was, in an unusual show of unity, announced at a press stakeout by the Security Council’s 14 male ambassadors and one woman ambassador on October 5th immediately after the sixth round of voting.  These polls have been informal, but October 5th was the first occasion on which vetoes were revealed (without indicating their source) through the use of red ballots by the Permanent 5 members.  Guterres was the only candidate on the list of 10 to exceed the 9 positive votes required, and the only one to receive no vetoes (though there was one abstention).

Guterres’s success should come as no surprise – he has topped all six of these internal polls, held since July this year.  But logical procedure is far from the norm in this secretive process, and he had not until a few days ago been expected to avoid a Russian veto.  Russia, in its current Cold War throw-back belligerence in international affairs, had been insisting that the winner should for once and for the first time be an Eastern European.  The eleventh hour entry (five days before the vote) of Bulgarian Kristalina Georgieva to the race was thought significantly to challenge Guterres, because she fit the bill as an Eastern European and had an impressive record of managerial efficiency as the European Union’s budget chief and prior to that, as European Commissioner on humanitarian issues.  She is also a woman.

The demand that this Secretary-General be a woman and a feminist has been expressed with growing insistence by women’s rights groups around the world and by dedicated campaigns and petitions

Two central arguments drive this demand.


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 From its depictions of black women to the representation of slavery itself, Nate Parker’s film is deeply flawed and historically inaccurate. 

EXCERPT:  Like the film’s other fabrications about black women, the rape story line is carefully constructed to redeem black masculinity at black women’s expense. According to The Birth of a Nation, all of the women in Turner’s life were passive victims in desperate need of black male protection. This fabrication flies in the face of historical fact. There is overwhelming evidence that Turner’s mother fought valiantly against slavery, even attempting to commit infanticide when Nat was born to prevent him from being enslaved. Yet Parker and Celestin depicted her as a meek, mild victim who resigned herself to slavery. Cherry and her daughter are also portrayed as helpless victims who suffer unspeakable horrors until Turner rides in on his horse and vows to seek vengeance on their behalf. The only other major black female character in the film, who is brilliantly played by actress Gabrielle Union, does not speak a single word during the entire movie. She literally has no voice, and like all of the other black women in the film, she has no agency. Instead, like Cherry, she is a victim of a horrifying rape, which must be avenged by the black male heroes in her life.


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The 55-year-old pastor arrested for aggravated rape was given punishment consistent with ‘traditions and customs’ in some indigenous communities

 In situations of sexual violence ‘a lot of cases are settled this way: with a bottle of liquor’, said Graciela Zabaleta, director of the Mahatma Gandhi Human Rights Centre in the city of Tuxtepec.

Human rights activists in Mexico have reacted with fury after a man accused of sexually abusing an eight-year old girl was ordered to buy the victim’s father two crates of beer as compensation.

The perpetrator, identified as a 55-year-old former pastor, was given the sanction after the victim’s parents complained to the municipal government in Santiago Quetzalapa, a remote indigenous community without road access or cellular phone coverage some 450km south-east of Mexico City.

He was only arrested after local media coverage of the fine prompted widespread outrage in the state. In a statement to the Guardian, the Oaxaca state attorney general’s office said that police arrested a man on Friday morning on charges of aggravated rape.

The case has highlighted both Mexico’s poor record at investigating sexual crimes, and a unique form of government in Oaxaca state, where many indigenous communities are ruled by an idiosyncratic system popularly known as usos y costumbres (“traditions and customs”).



The Clash Over Virginity Testing in South Africa

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California and Texas collaborated to arrest Carl Ferrer, CEO of site that makes millions from escort ads said to lead to human trafficking of adults and children

Carl Ferrer, CEO of Backpage, was arrested on felony charges of pimping a minor, pimping and conspiracy to commit pimping.

 Carl Ferrer, CEO of Backpage, was arrested on felony charges of pimping a minor, pimping and conspiracy to commit pimping. Photograph: AP

State agents raided the Dallas headquarters of adult classifieds site Backpage and arrested CEO Carl Ferrer on Thursday following allegations that adult and child sex-trafficking victims had been forced into prostitution through escort ads posted on the site.

Ferrer, 55, was arrested on a California warrant after arriving at Houston’s Bush Intercontinental airport on a flight from Amsterdam, Texas attorney general Ken Paxton said. In a statement, Paxton said agents from his law enforcement unit participated in a search of Backpage’s headquarters and Ferrer’s arrest.

“Making money off the backs of innocent human beings by allowing them to be exploited for modern-day slavery is not acceptable in Texas,” Paxton, a Republican, said in a statement. “I intend to use every resource my office has to make sure those who profit from the exploitation and trafficking of persons are held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”

California attorney general Kamala Harris said Ferrer was arrested on felony charges of pimping a minor, pimping and conspiracy to commit pimping. He is being held in lieu of $500,000 bond and will face an extradition hearing before he can be returned to California.



Backpage in spotlight after murder link as sex website face court test

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WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party has looked firmly in control since sweeping to power a year ago but it may have pressed its conservative agenda too far by initially backing a virtual ban on abortion.

Now, rattled by nationwide protests on Monday by up to 100,000 women dressed in black, Prime Minister Beata Szydlo’s government is trying to distance itself from a draft proposal backed by the powerful Roman Catholic Church.

Worryingly for PiS, the protesters included women who voted for the party in last October’s election but say they may no longer do so over its attempt to tighten the abortion law.

Ola, a 29-year-old woman who works in public administration, said she had voted for PiS but now felt “very deceived” by the government.


SEE ALSO:  Protesters in Poland Rally Against Proposal for Total Abortion Ban

AND: Pope Hope? You Be the Judge

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14.  Reporting Crime Victimizations to the Police and the Incidence of Future Victimizations: A Longitudinal Study
  NCJ Number:  250195
  Author:  Shabbar I. Ranapurwaia ; Mark T. Berg ; Carri Casteel
  Journal: PLoS ONE  Volume:11  Issue:7  Dated:July 2016  Pages:1 to 8
  Publication Date:  07/2016
  Abstract   HTML   Find in a Library
15.  Examining Criminal Justice Responses to and Help-Seeking Patterns of Sexual Violence Survivors With Disabilities
  NCJ Number:  250196
  Author:  Angela Browne ; Ari Agha ; Ashley Demyan ; Elizabeth Beatriz
  Publication Date:  09/2016
  Abstract   PDF   Find in a Library
8.  Protecting Children Online: Using Research-Based Algorithms to Prioritize Law Enforcement Internet Investigations, Technical Report
  NCJ Number:  250154
  Author:  R. Gregg Dwyer ; Michael Seto ; Dana DeHart ; Elizabeth Letourneau ; Tracy McKee ; Robert Moran
  Publication Date:  08/2016
  Abstract   PDF   Find in a Library
10.  Law Enforcement Perspectives on Sex Offender Registration and Notification: Supplemental Report on Open-Ended Responses on Policy Recommendations
  NCJ Number:  250114
  Author:  Andrew J. Harris ; Christopher Lobanov-Rostovsky ; Jill S. Levenson
  Publication Date:  07/2016
  Abstract   PDF   Find in a Library
11.  Law Enforcement Perspectives on Sex Offender Registration and Notification
  NCJ Number:  250181
  Author:  Andrew J. Harris ; Christopher Lobanov-Rostovsky ; Jill S. Levenson
  Publication Date:  09/2016
  Abstract   PDF   Find in a Library

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The case sparked national outrage when the 26-year-old man filed a defamation suit after his victim and her family called him a ‘rapist’ on Facebook

Yee Xiong, 24, said she was sexually assaulted by Lang Her, a fellow university student, in an off-campus apartment after a night of drinking.

 Yee Xiong, 24, said she was sexually assaulted by Lang Her, a fellow university student, in an off-campus apartment after a night of drinking. Photograph: Darcy Costello/AP

A sex offender who sued his victim for $4m had his case thrown out in aCalifornia court on Monday, a decision advocates hope will discourage perpetrators from filing lawsuits that “revictimize” survivors.

Lang Her, 26, sparked national outrage when he filed a defamation claim against his 24-year-old victim Yee Xiong after he pleaded no contest to a felony assault charge, earning him one year behind bars.

Despite the plea deal and jail sentence, Her accused Xiong and her family of making false statements when they called him a “rapist” on Facebook. His defamation lawsuit is part of a growing number of high-profile legal complaints from men found guilty of sexual assault – a trend that victims’ advocates fear could discourage survivors from speaking out.

“Women who come forward and report these crimes have to know … that they are not going to get sued,” said McGregor Scott, who represented Xiong. “I hope this sends a message … that this is not going to be tolerated.”


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Wednesday marks International Safe Abortion Day. Every year on this day, September 28, women’s health advocates from around the world unite in support of ensuring universal access to safe abortion care and the repeal of laws that criminalize abortion. This global day of action began in Latin America over a quarter-century ago in response to the countless deaths and injuries resulting from clandestine abortion procedures in the region, a reality still faced by millions of women today throughout the world.

Abortion is common. Globally, an estimated 56 million abortions took place each year between 2010 and 2014, which translates to one in four pregnancies ending in abortion.

A recent study, Abortion Incidence Between 1990 and 2014: Global, Regional, and Subregional Levels and Trends, conducted jointly by the Guttmacher Institute and the World Health Organization, found that most developed regions have seen a marked decline in the rate of abortion, dropping over a 25-year period from 46 to 27 per every 1,000 women of childbearing age. This downward trend suggests that women and couples in developed countries have become more successful at avoiding unintended pregnancies, a welcome development.

But the study also reveals uncomfortable truths about the situation elsewhere.

In developing countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean, the overall rate of abortion has barely changed over the same time period, dropping only slightly from 39 to 37 per every 1,000 women.

What is behind these figures and what must we do about it?



Venezuelan Women Reluctantly Opt For Sterilization Amid Economic Crisis


40 Years Is Enough: Let’s End the Harmful and Unjust Hyde Amendment

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In Saudi Arabia, a country many view as synonymous with gender discrimination, women are seeing signs of change. While a few top-down reforms have come in recent years — the right to vote in municipal elections, for example, was introduced by King Abdullah in 2011 — many working at the grassroots level are agitating for more fundamental change. Over the summer, activists launched an online campaign calling for the dismantling of Saudi Arabia’s controversial “guardianship” system, which puts women under the authority of male relatives — something many see as a fundamental obstacle to women’s basic rights in the kingdom.

For the past several months, Saudi women and their supporters around the world have tweeted under the hashtag #سعوديات_نطالب_باسقاط_الولايه [translation: “Saudi Women Demand the End (literal: downfall) of Guardianship”].

The campaign has also used the English hashtags #IAmMyOwnGuardian and #StopEnslavingSaudiWomen to draw in international supporters, as well as local advocates.

The goal, says long-time activist Aziza al-Yousef, is to gain Saudi women the right to be “full citizens … responsible for her own acts.” Alongside their tweets, activists circulated a petition calling for the end of the guardianship system, which garnered over 14,000 signatures by last weekend. On Monday, activists, including al-Yousef, brought the petition in person to the royal court, where they were unable to deliver the document, but were directed to send it via mail.


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Update: 10/3/16,  Colombia Plunged Into Uncertainty As Voters Narrowly Reject Peace Deal With FARC Rebels

Opponents of the pact believed it was too soft on the rebels by allowing them to re-enter society, form a political party and escape traditional jail sentences.


BOGOTA, Sept 28 "The peace deal makes it clear that sexual violence is not up for amnesty"

BOGOTA, Sept 28 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Under a newly-signed peace deal to end Colombia's war, women who have been raped by military forces or rebel fighters may expect to have the crimes against them investigated by a special unit.

The accord between the government and rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) also pledges to improve access to land for women farmers through a land bank and subsidies.

And seeks to encourage rural women to move away from growing coca, the raw ingredient for cocaine, by providing creches and other kinds of support.

It's unlikely such provisions would be in place had women been excluded from the peace talks but their role in the process has led to an unprecedented focus on women's rights in the final deal, setting a strong example for others, analysts said.

"Colombia has raised the bar in terms of women's direct and indirect participation in a peace process," said Miriam Coronel Ferrer, the Philippine government's chief peace negotiator with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the country's largest Muslim rebel group.

"It's a good model to inspire other countries. Excluding women hurts a peace process," she told the Thomson



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"Muchas jóvenes optan por la vida en pareja a temprana edad y esperan encontrar en su nuevo hogar protección, cariño, seguridad y, en muchos casos, no es así; el impacto psicológico que confronta la realidad contra las expectativas puede ser brutal"

Xalapa, México, 19 sep. 16. AmecoPress/ SEMlac.- Su marido le quemó el cuerpo con agua caliente e incendió la ropa que la joven de 17 años tenía sobre la cama.
Llevaba ya algún tiempo sufriendo violencia física y sexual por parte del hombre con quien se casó a los 15, pero ese episodio fue el que la decidió a pedir ayuda al Instituto Municipal de la Mujer de la ciudad mexicana de Xalapa. Al llegar allí, lo único que quería era que la psicóloga le asegurara que él iba a cambiar.

La psicóloga Nancy Villegas García, coordinadora de Desarrollo Humano y Oportunidades de ese Instituto, recuerda que el día en que la joven llegó a sus oficinas se encontraba en un estado total de negación. "Tenía coraje contra su madre, más que contra su pareja", relata. 

"Muchas jóvenes optan por la vida en pareja a temprana edad y esperan encontrar en su nuevo hogar protección, cariño, seguridad y, en muchos casos, no es así; el impacto psicológico que confronta la realidad contra las expectativas puede ser brutal", asegura Villegas.

En el estado de Veracruz, desde 2014, la legislación ya no permite a menores de edad contraer matrimonio; sin embargo, ello no ha impedido que niñas, niños y adolescentes continúen optando por la vida en pareja.

Arturo Narváez Aguilera, coordinador de la Red por los Derechos de la Infancia en Veracruz (REDIM), ve como "un marco ideal" que en todos los códigos civiles del país quede prohibido el matrimonio de menores de edad, pero admite que el panorama es mucho más complejo.

"Ante la ausencia de otras alternativas de vida, para muchas niñas y adolescentes el cohabitar con hombres mayores de edad -con un contrato matrimonial o no de por medio-, parece ser la mejor o única opción para intentar lograr seguridad económica, protección o para llenar vacíos emocionales", señala.

Narváez Aguilera comparte una serie de cifras de REDIM, las cuales ilustran la situación en México: 323.936 adolescentes están casadas en unión libre o son divorciadas o viudas, y agrega que 198.426 tienen al menos un hijo.


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First, Trump went after the Khan family. Now he’s maligning Alicia Machado.

As the most bigoted campaign in modern memory stumbles toward a close, it’s perfectly fitting that two immigrants ― a woman from Venezuela and a man from Pakistan ― may have delivered the fatal blows to Donald Trump.

First it was the GOP nominee’s self-defeating, relentless bullying of the Muslim American parents of Capt. Humayun Khan after the slain soldier’s father, Khizr Khan, denounced Trump at the Democratic National Convention. Trump’s unhinged and hostile remarks, which continued against the counsel of all his advisers and any sense of decency, were directed at deeply sympathetic figures and drove a mass defection from his campaign by fellow Republicans.

Now, the former reality TV star has set his sights on another sympathetic target, former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, whom he had previously called “Miss Piggy” and referred to as “Miss Housekeeping,” as Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clintonnoted in Monday night’s debate.


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A new $79m initiative to tackle the backlog won’t address the fact that many officers still treat rape survivors with suspicion and scorn

The nearly 80,000 rape kits taken from sexual assault victims that have gone untested for so long haven’t just been ignored for financial reasons. Yes, local police departments sometimes lack resources - but what too many are also missing is the ability to treat victims of sexual violence with respect.

After years of sitting on dusty shelves - shamefully ignored by police departments across the country - tens of thousands of rape kits will finally be tested. On 10 September, Vice President Joe Biden and New York City District Attorney Cyrus Vance announced a $79m initiative to start to whittle down the backlog.

Vance said: “I’m saying today to all the women awaiting justice, you are not forgotten ... we will prevent future rapes by taking rapists off the streets, but the grants will do more than test kits - they will provide closure for victims and families.”

But will they? Getting evidence from sexual assaults properly tested and processed is an undoubtedly an important part of the criminal justice system. But fully processed kits are not a magic bullet to putting rapists in jail, and they certainly don’t make amends to victims who have been poorly treated and their cases ignored.

When Michigan State University professor Rebecca Campbell conducted a multi-year study of untested rape kits in Detroit, for example, she reported that it wasn’t just “chronic resource depletion” that led to the backlog - but “police treating victims in dehumanizing ways.”

“[L]aw enforcement personnel regularly expressed negative, stereotyping beliefs about sexual assault victims. Victims who were assumed to be prostitutes were considered to be at fault for what had happened to them. Adolescents were often assumed to be lying, trying to avoid getting into trouble with their families by concocting a false story about being raped. Friends/acquaintances had got‐what‐they‐got because they had chosen to associate with the perpetrator. 



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Annotation:  This report presents data on the number, participants, and curricula of State and local law enforcement training academies for the period 2011 to 2013.

From 2011 to 2013, a total of 664 State and local law enforcement academies provided basic training to entry-level officer recruits in the United States. During this period, nearly 135,000 recruits (45,000 per year) entered a basic training program, and 86 percent successfully completed the program. This completion rate was the same as for the 57,000 recruits who entered training programs in 2005. Approximately one in seven recruits entering basic training programs were female; and nearly one in three recruits were of a minority racial or ethnic group. From 2011 to 2013, academies at 2-year colleges graduated the most recruits (10,000 per year), followed by municipal police academies (7,000). Excluding field training, basic training programs lasted an average of about 840 hours, or 21 weeks. Major training areas included operations (an average of 213 hours per recruit); firearms, self-defense, and use of force (168 hours); self-improvement (89 hours); and legal education (86 hours). Nearly all academies required basic training in community policing, with an average of just over 40 hours of instruction per recruit. Nearly all basic training programs addressed social issues, such as domestic violence (an average of 13 hours per recruit) and mental illness (10 hours). 38 tables and 13 figures

Document URL:  Text   PDF (Full Report)   PDF (Summary)

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UNITED NATIONS, Sep 15 2016 (IPS) - It was little-known Brazilian delegate Bertha Lutz who led a band of female delegates responsible for inscribing the equal rights of women and men in the UN Charter at the San Francisco Conference on International Organisation in 1945. 

“The mantle is falling off the shoulders of the Anglo-Saxons and…we [Latin American Women] shall have to do the next stage of battle for women,” Lutz wrote in her memoir, recalling the conference.

Researchers Elise Luhr Dietrichson and Fatima Sator of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) presented this forgotten history at a recent news conference at the United Nations, wishing to publicise the true history of women’s rights in the UN Charter.

“It’s not only about representing historical facts. It’s political; it’s about how history is presented,” Luhr Dietrichson told IPS. There is, she says, little recognition of the role of nations in the global south in establishing “global norms”.


EN ESPANOL: Latinoamericanas lucharon por la igualdad en la Carta de la ONU

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A publication of the Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition, this manual is motivated by the courageous activism of people—and in particular, women—around the world who dare to resist, to fight for what we believe is right, and to put our lives on the line for justice, accountability and fairness.

Gendering Documentation frames and encourages documentation as a politically-motivated telling of women human rights defenders’ stories. Documentation of WHRDs’ experiences is a thread between our acts of resistance and the abuses we face. The chapters that follow go beyond existing human rights documentation manuals to provide a unique tool for capturing the specific nature of violations against WHRDs. The discussions that follow are grounded in a gender analysis that both challenges the social systems that restrict women’s rights, and also supports those who fight for those rights all over the world.

Click here to download the full Manual. http://www.defendingwomen-defendingrights.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/GENDERING-DOCUMENTATION-FINAL-3-min.pdf

Click here to download the flyer with background information. http://www.defendingwomen-defendingrights.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/WHRD-GEN-DOC-flyer-1-side-3-2016.pdf

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“I think the jury failed, I think the judge failed and I think justice was not served,” the child’s mother said.

Former U.S. Airman Justin Corbett was sentenced on Thursday to 18 months of probation for the death of a 21-month-old boy.

A Delaware mother whose toddler suffered fatal brain injuries while in the care of a former airman expressed outrage after the man was sentenced to 18 months of probation for the child’s 2012 death.

Justin Corbett, who was initially charged with first-degree murder in 21-month-old Evan Dudley’s death, faced up to eight years in prison after convicted in July on a lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide, The Associated Press reported.

On Thursday, a judge sentenced the 28-year-old to the full eight years, before suspending it for 31 days time served and probation, citing his clean criminal history and “exemplary military record,” the AP reported. 


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It hurts not only the kids who witness the violence, but also their classmates. The harm is evident in lower test scores as well as lower rates of college attendance and completion. And the impact extends past graduation — it can be seen in lower earnings later in life.

“It’s a sad story,” says Scott Carrell, economist at the University of California, Davis, who has studied this for over a decade.

But, he says, there’s one thing he and his colleagues — economists Mark Hoekstra and Elira Kuka — found that can improve the situation “not only for that family but for all the child’s classmates.” What was it? Reporting domestic violence when it happens.


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