This is IN THE NEWS in VOA
President Richard Nixon used to say that
the first civil right of every American "is the right to be free from
domestic violence." That was forty years ago, a time of civil disorder and
high crime. "Domestic violence" really meant crimes between
strangers. Now it means the opposite, with two recent reminders in the news.
February twelfth, outside Buffalo, New York, Muzzammil Hassan, a well-known
local businessman, told police that his wife was dead. Officers found Aasiya
Zubair Hassan with her head cut off. The couple created the Bridges TV network,
an effort to unite American Muslims and increase understanding across cultures.
In the days before her death,
Aasiya Hassan had taken legal steps to divorce her husband. She had also
requested a restraining order demanding he stay away from her. Now he is
charged with murder.
Another case involved two popular
young singers. On February eighth, Los Angeles police arrested Chris Brown
after a fight that reportedly left injuries on his girlfriend, Rihanna. No
charges have yet been brought, but Chris Brown said in a statement that he was
"sorry and saddened" over what happened.
The Justice Department says domestic
violence can be defined as a pattern of abusive behavior used by one partner in
any relationship to control another
partner. It can be physical, sexual, emotional, or economic abuse -- controlling
Women are more likely to experience domestic
violence, but men are also victims. And groups are working to bring more
attention to abusive teenage relationships.
the United States each year, an estimated four out of one thousand females
older than twelve are victims of non-fatal domestic violence. Justice Department
researchers say this is down sixty percent from nineteen ninety-three.
National Network to End Domestic Violence says programs across the country
served more than sixty thousand victims on any average day last year.
say women are more likely to be victimized by their partner during times of
financial stress. The United States has lost more than three and a half million
jobs since the recession began more than a year ago. But about half of those
jobs have been lost in the last three months.
Richard Gelles at the University
of Pennsylvania studies domestic violence. He says he does not expect an increase
in domestic killings as a result of the economy. But he does expect an increase
in other kinds of abuse. He also says the economic situation will make it more
difficult for some victims to leave abusive relationships.
Physical abuse is always a crime, but domestic
violence laws differ from state to state. Claire Wright at the Thomas Jefferson
School of Law in San Diego, California, says legal protections do not always cover
all kinds of abuse. She also says abusers may simply change their method of
exercising control, to try to reduce their chances of getting caught.
And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English, written by
Brianna Blake. I'm Steve Ember.