Cross Event Focuses on Gender and Ethnicity

In her book ‘Far From Home: Shattering the Myth of the Model Minority,’ Mary Chung Hiyashi stated that nearly one-third of women killed each year are killed by the people they are intimately involved with.
This surprising statistic was merely an introduction to the seminar ‘A Room With a View: A Life of Activism,’ hosted by the Center for Women and Men and the Cross Cultural Center on Nov. 20.
Founded in 1989 by three women who realized a significant amount of underrepresentation of females in the state and federal level, the California Women’s Law Center focuses on advocating and informing females of their legal rights.
Marjorie Sims, executive director of the CWLC, presented an overview of true stories of women who were unjustly treated because of their sex.
In response to the escalating violence against women in intimate relationships, Sims illustrated the grim reality of intimate-partner murder.
According to Sims, the CWLC helps women understand that there are laws to protect them, rejecting the idea that the only way to keep custody of a child after divorce is to continue living with her partner.
‘When people separate, violence escalates,’ Sims said. ‘When someone involved in an intimate relationship is murdered, it is often viewed as a family tragedy rather than a murder.’
With this ‘family tragedy,’ the responses from the criminal justice system become inadequate.
‘If you murder an intimate partner you are less likely to get a longer sentence,’ Sims said.
Other projects the CWLC focuses on include a California Habeas Project for Battered Women, where a limited number of battered women who are in prison for killing their abusers may submit a petition for habeas corpus if expert testimony on battering and its effects were not presented during their original trial.
As a complement to the CWLC, Joann Lee, directing attorney of the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, which provides free aid to low-income individuals, introduced statistics of Asian Pacific Islander families in the United States.
‘Asian Pacific Islander women are less likely to report abuse in a relationship, thus violence becomes more severe because they wait longer to report it and they don’t know their rights,’ Lee said.
Lee alluded this reality to law enforcement in Asian countries where even local officials hesitate to get involved in ‘private matters.’
‘A lot of women don’t understand that rape is a crime within a marriage,’ Lee said.
Although both speakers agreed that many of the issues they are facing are never-ending battles, both stressed the urgency to work together to achieve change.
‘Educate yourself now because when you’re older you don’t have the time to get in touch with these issues,’ Sims said.
The Center for Women and Men plans on implementing a peer discussion group for 2004 entitled, ‘Asian Women for Equality.’
Issues facing women and the justice system were unknown to some students.
‘The topics were really interesting and I didn’t know there was so much activism,’ said Phoebe Ning, a first-year social science major. ‘I didn’t realize the realities of Asian families they presented.’
Others in attendance embraced the information given during the presentation and used it as a means of speaking out against injustices.
‘I wanted to learn how to become more of an activist in my daily life and what I can do to change things,’ said Priscilla Lee, a third-year English major.
Students can also receive assistance at the Public Law Center in Santa Ana, which provided pro bono work for low-income people.