The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Detroit, Michigan:
Violence against women on the rise

Apr 2, 2007

On March 27, Armenta White was strangled to death by her boyfriend, who then turned himself in to the police.

This was just one of the latest in a growing number of domestic violence deaths in Detroit. During a recent two week period, five women in the area died as the result of domestic violence. There have been others in the meantime.

Domestic violence fatalities have been on the rise in Michigan for several years. Between 2004 and 2005, domestic violence fatalities jumped up 74% according to the most recent official statistics... and these statistics are known to understate the problem.

In Michigan, this violence might be somewhat worse than other parts of the country, because the economic and social conditions are worse. The fact that there is higher unemployment, falling pay and benefit cuts causes greater stress and conflict to the family and in the most intimate personal relations.

But underlying this violence is the continued inequality of women in this society, which is reflected in the laws and the way the laws are enforced by the police and courts. Throughout the country, the laws still treat women like the property of men. It is not as explicit as it was just a few decades ago. But it is still very much there.

Jaycee Memminger, a Detroit woman who filed for divorce a few years ago, got a court personal protective order (PPO) against her husband after he locked her and their two children out of their home and froze her bank account. But he violated the PPO 13 times, and each time the most the judge did was jail him for 24 hours ...until the man shot Memminger in the face!

Memminger’s ex-husband is now in prison. But even if he had killed her, he could not have been given life in prison, because in Michigan as in many other states, a man who murders his spouse in a domestic dispute is not subject to as stiff a penalty as a man who murders a total stranger under other circumstances.

It is easy to point fingers at the way women are treated in the Middle East. But in this country, supposedly so advanced and modern, women do not have equal status. They are still treated like the property of men.