As we mark Domestic Violence Awareness month, we are reminded that this crime hits especially hard in Arizona. Domestic violence is still the most common violent crime in our state, and the statistics are staggering:
- In 2004, there were 80 domestic violence related homicides in Arizona. Nine of the victims were under 18 years old.
- A woman is murdered by her husband or boyfriend every four days in Arizona.
- 70 percent of all known domestic violence-related deaths in Arizona involve a firearm.
- In Arizona, two out of every three women who seek shelter will be turned away because of lack of space.
- Every 36 seconds a child will witness an act of domestic violence.
- Every five minutes police respond to a call involving domestic violence.
Cut It Out
In 2005, my office joined forces with the Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Arizona State Board of Cosmetology to launch the Cut It Out program. This national outreach program draws on the cosmetology community's unique skills and access to women by providing salon professionals training and information to assist domestic violence victims in getting help.
Salon professionals see an average of 100 to 200 clients a month, and this program builds on the special relationships they develop with their cosmetologists. The goal of Cut It Out is to build awareness of domestic violence through posters and brochures displayed in salons. Salon professionals are being trained to recognize warning signs and safely refer clients to get help. The Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence is conducting training sessions at Arizona's 43 cosmetology schools and hair shows. The Arizona State Board of Cosmetology is distributing informational materials to approximately 4,500 salons in Arizona. For more information, visit the Attorney General's Web site at www.azag.gov.
Spousal rape legislation
Earlier this year the Arizona Legislature adopted a measure that penalizes all rapes the same. The new law makes the marital status of the parties involved irrelevant when determining whether a sexual act with another person is criminal. Prior to this law, Arizona had different penalties for sexual assault and sexual assault on a spouse.
I continue to work with state legislative leaders to implement an Address Confidentiality program in Arizona. This program would ensure that alleged perpetrators could not use the state's public records to locate victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Similar programs have been implemented in 16 other states with impressive results. We are working to iron out the technical issues and hope to introduce legislation during the 2006 session.
Domestic Violence Awareness month is an important time to reflect on this serious problem. This is not a family issue or a women's issue -- it is a community issue and everyone's business. Working together, it is my hope that in the future we won't have to have a Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
See related story:
Unmasking the evil of domestic violence