Monday, November 16, 2009

Cheyenne Zonta Club announces "16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence"

Mona Pearl at the Zonta Club of Cheyenne sent out this announcement today:

The Zonta Club of Cheyenne is again participating in 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence. The campaign formally kicks off on Nov. 25. Proclamation signings by Governor Dave Freudenthal and Cheyenne Mayor Rick Kaysen will take place on Nov. 20 and Nov. 18, respectively. The Wyoming Division of Victim Services' “Silent Witness” display in the Laramie County Public Library will open on Nov. 30.

The Cheyenne Zonta Club has invited other organizations to join the campaign, including Safehouse, Cheyenne Community Clinic, United Way of Laramie County Women’s Leadership Council and Prevent Child Abuse-Wyoming.

Since 1991, the 16 Days Campaign has helped to raise awareness about gender violence and has highlighted its effects on women globally. Each year, thousands of activists from all over the world utilize the campaign to further their work to end violence against women. The campaign has celebrated victories gained by women’s rights movements, it has challenged policies and practices that allow women to be targeted for acts of violence, it has called for the protection of people who defend women’s human rights and it has demanded accountability from states, including a commitment to recognize and act upon all forms of violence against women as human rights abuses.

Contact Mona Pearl at 307-772-9001; 307-421-3788;

Nobody would be surprised to hear that violence against women is a problem in Wyoming. In a Sept. 23 article in the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle,

Cary Heck, a professor of criminal justice at the University of Wyoming, believes domestic violence is a problem in the state. “I think that is linked a little to socio-economic status, and we sort of have a frontier mentality,” he said. “Wyoming is a drinking state -- and I think those things are linked.”

The professor said domestic violence is hard to prevent from a public policy perspective and that past domestic violence can be linked with future domestic violence. “Generally it’s an explosion that occurs,” he said. “It’s hard to make public policy that will keep those explosions from happening because they’re really not rational events.”

Eileen Gavagan, victim/witness coordinator for the Laramie County District Attorney’s Office, said the state needs tougher domestic violence laws, more counseling for offenders and education for family members.

In the article, the Violence Policy Center in D.C. ranked Wyoming third in the number of domestic violence murders. Wyoming usually places in the top ten in this category.

Not a pretty picture.

But it's not only murder. Most cases of violence against women end up in broken broken bones and broken homes. A woman and her children fleeing to a battered women's shelter. Traumatized kids, and the possibility that they may repeat the behavior as adults -- as either batterer or victim.

Take some time to go see the "Silent Witness" display when it opens Nov. 30 at the library.

If you still need to be pursuaded that gender violence is a problem, go to the Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence web site at

And if you're curious about how this subject fits into the current health care debate, go to my Sept. 15 post at

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