Friday, December 29, 2006

Domestic Violence Rates Fell 50 Percent Between 1993 - 2004

On December 28, the Justice Department released a report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics noting that domestic violence rates fell sharply between 1993 and 2004.

American Indian women and native Alaskan women are far more likely to be victimized than whites and other minorities. The Bureau of Justice Statistics said that "intimate partner violence" rates fell by more than 50 percent. The decline mirrored a decade-long trend in other violent crimes, and the department did not suggest a cause.

"There's still generally no consensus about why any crime in general has dropped," said Shannan Catalano, the study's author. "It's safe to say it's more than one factor that went into it." Some experts attribute the decline to better training for police and more funding for prosecution, two key elements of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act. Investigators increasingly are better trained to handle abuse cases and bring them to court.

"For the first time, there are entire domestic violence units in law enforcement," said Lonna Stevens, director of the Sheila Wellstone Institute, a Minnesota-based domestic violence organization. "We've had protocols and policies developed for responding to this."
In 1993, there were about 5.8 incidents of nonfatal violence for every 1,000 U.S. residents above the age of 12. By 2004, that number had fallen to 2.6, the agency said. Homicides fell by about 30 percent, from 2,269 in 1993 to 1,544 in 2004.

The Justice Department defines intimate partner violence as violence by a current or former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend or a same-sex partner.

Stevens said police have been less successful responding to and deterring abusive behavior in some minority communities, where racism and cultural differences can keep reporting rates low.
Over the 12-year reporting period, about 18 out of every 1,000 American Indian and native Alaskan women were victimized - a violence rate three times higher than among white women.
Black women were more likely than white women to be abused but the study also found that they were more likely to report their abuse to the police than white women.

Women in their early 20s and women who were divorced or separated had the greatest risk of being abused, the study found. Violence was also more common in low-income households.
Asian males, white males and the elderly reported the lowest rates of partner violence.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Corporate Alliance in Turkey - and the "Ick Factor"

I haven't written for a while, but that is because I have been doing a lot of traveling and speaking. One wonderful opportunity was to be in Istanbul in November with companies working on the "Corporate Alliance" model in Turkey. They are challenging themselves to reach the top 25 companies in their country -- led by Hurriyet, the very large and very popular daily newspaper in Turkey.

Hurriyet's CEO, Vuslat Doğan Sabancı, is leading the charge on this issue. On the front page of the paper, she called on all companies to unite against domestic violence and said, "We would like to invite all companies to form an alliance of the private sector against this problem. This is one of the main topics of this conference.”

It is quite amazing to have a large media company with such influence take such a strong stance on this issue and to use precious "business space" and time and resources to address it. It would be exciting to have the New York Times or Washington Post do the same thing some day -- following the lead of Hurriyet.

We look forward to working with the companies in Turkey and in learning from them and sharing together.

It was interesting as we asked the attendees to break into smaller groups and develop lists of potential "obstacles" to companies understanding how domestic violence impacts the workplace and why businesses should become involved. The obstacles the participants in Turkey outlined were the same obstacles that our partners everywhere face:
  • businesses don't know the "business case" for addressing domestic violence
  • they don't understand how it impacts their workplaces right now
  • they are concerned about overstepping their boundaries as employers
  • they don't see how addressing the issue preventatively can benefit them, etc.
  • there is that really uncomfortable "ick" factor about domestic violence
And while the "answers" to those obstacles may be different in the different countries with which we partner, the obstacles are eerily similar. We are not talking about companies taking on something just to be "kind" -- it is about addressing something that impacts the workplace and that benefits them to address.

And about the "ick factor." It is interesting -- when I was stuck in a certain city during the snow/ice storms in early December I was really struck by the "uncomfortable subject" part of this issue. Since I was in the Executive Lounge of the hotel hanging out with business people and talking, the subject of my job came up. The variance in reactions what fascinating -- some people were very polite, some were interested and really understood the impact of domestic violence on the workplace ("like a work-life issue, right?" one guy said). . . and then there was the other "ick factor" reaction. People who had been really seeming to enjoy my company were suddenly not so comfortable talking with me when they found out what I did for a job.

Why? I am not sure. But clearly, domestic violence makes people uncomfortable. And it should -- it is a terrible, terrible thing. But I was fascinated that even in a pretty "sanitized" discussion about the issue, some people could not wait to leave the conversation.

Clearly, there is lots to do to help people be able to have a conversation as a starting point. And using the communication network and resources of a workplace to provide information and help to employees who need it is quite powerful.

Congratulations to Hurriyet and all those all over the world who are leading the way!