December 1994 Home   Newsletters

January 1995

February 1995

President's Message: Leage Anticipates a Busy 1995 (Suzanne Meisenzahl)
Recommendations for State Convention Agenda
Mayor Outlines Ambitious Plan for Honolulu
New Directions for 1995
Physical and Sexual Violence Bill to Be Revised (Pamela Ferguson-Brey)
Congratulations, Pamela!
Planning and Zoning Committee Has Busy Month (Astrid Monson)
State Data Book Wins Again (Astrid Monson)
City Finances Discussion Slated (Jean Aoki)
Rights Petition Circulated
Information Exchange Conference Planned (Marion Saunders)
Letters to the Editor - LWV Action Praised (Faye Kennedy)
Letters to the Editor - Mahalo for LWV Kokua (Martha Ross)
Volunteers Needed

Physical and Sexual Violence Bill to Be Revised

League member will now serve on the Women's Legislative Coalition subcommittee on Sexual Assault and Harassment in Schools. The subcommittee voted to draft a bill to require that sexual and physical violence reduction be included in school curricula. The purpose of this bill is to proactively prevent physical and sexual violence, including sexual harassment, by clarifying violence policies and mandating and funding the integration of tolerance studies and nonviolent conflict resolution in school curricula from early childhood education through the 12th grade. Violent experiences in our schools, homes, and communities, coupled with violent media messages, are teaching belief systems based on hate and the use of violence to our children, who will grow up to hate and hurt others, unless we actively teach nonviolence. Teaching tolerance and nonviolence is essential to the physical, emotional and economic well-being of the people of Hawaii.

Sexual violence is a documented concern in Hawaii. A study conducted by the Hawaii Attorney General reports that 2.2 percent of the adult women in Hawaii responded that someone had forced them, or attempted to force them, to have sexual intercourse in 1993. An estimated 9,660 were rape victimes in 1993, yet only 394 were reported to law enforcement. In other words, only one out of 25 of the estimated rapes were reported to the police. The Hawaii survey found that 73 % of the victims were raped by an acquaintance or a family member.

The study conducted by the American Association of University Women, entitled Hostile Hallways documents that 81% of students in grades 8 through 12 have experienced unwanted sexual behavior at school. In the AAUW survey, 23% of girls who reported they were sexually harassed indicated that as a result of the harassment they felt they did not want to attend school. In addition, incidents of gang or racially motivated violence involving our youth have become more visible. Title X of the Education Amendments of 1972, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended in 1972 and the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendent of the U.S. Constitution guarantee students the right to attend school in an environment free from physical and sexual violence, including sexual harassment.

Domestic violence is well documented in our community. Last year, there were 3,000 cases of misdemeanor and hundreds of felony level domestic violence cases handled by the Honolulu prosecutor. A study conducted by the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women estimates that at least 20% of women in Hawaii, ages 18-24, have been victims of domestic violence. Children who witness partner violence in their home experience serious emotional trauma, the added consequence of learning violent behavior. In addition, children residing in homes experiencing partner violence are 300% more likely to be victims of child abuse and neglect.

Another indicator of the amount of violence in our community is the reality of our overburdened public and private services. Our domestic violence and sexual assault counseling programs are filled to capacity, our emergency abuse shelters are crowded, our court systems in Honolulu are full, there is only one DOE sex equity specialist to handle the sexual harassment training in our schools statewide, our prosecutor-based victim/ witness assistance programs cannot meet the needs of every crime victim and surviving family members and our Child Protective Services social workers have excessive caseloads which prohibit their ability to protect children or support families in crisis. The proposed bill is a small step in the right direction towards approaching this problem.

Pamela Ferguson-Brey
Chair, Human Resources Committee

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