Copyright (c) 2009 American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law
American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law
THE FIRST ANNUAL AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION DOMESTIC VIOLENCE COMMISSION AND JOURNAL OF GENDER, SOCIAL POLICY AND THE LAW DOMESTIC VIOLENCE DEDICATED SECTION: THE GENDERED NATURE OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: STATISTICAL DATA FOR LAWYERS CONSIDERING EQUAL PROTECTION ANALYSIS
American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy and the Law
17 Am. U.J. Gender Soc. Pol'y & L. 229
Molly Dragiewicz* and Yvonne Lindgren**
In Woods v. Horton, California's Third District Court of Appeal in Sacramento ruled that a state Health and Safety Code section funding domestic violence shelter services specifically for battered women and their children violated equal protection. 1 Using the strict scrutiny standard of review, the court held that under the state's Equal Protection Clause, women and men are "similarly situated" with regard to domestic violence and, therefore, the language in the code should be revised to make state funding for domestic violence shelter services under that code gender-neutral. 2 Woods is the first successful legal decision for the anti-feminist "fathers' rights" movement in a series of lawsuits filed against battered women's shelters and their funders. 3 The case is important because it highlights the limits of formal equality review of laws that confer benefits upon women. Specifically, in its formal equality review, the court failed to sufficiently consider the gendered nature of domestic violence and the social and political context in which violence against women occurs. Women are battered much more frequently, suffer much greater injuries, and are at much higher risk of being killed by their batterer than their male counterparts, particularly at separation. 4 Further, women who are battered are in greater need of the specific services offered by shelters because of the profoundly gendered nature of battering, wherein women and children bear substantial risk of homicide, assault, rape, and stalking following separation from an abuser, whereas men do not. 5
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