Legal Toolkit Launch & LM in the New York Times: LM Monthly Newsletter May 2019

May 10, 2019

LM Celebrates & Uplifts ALL Mothers

The women featured in this month’s Legal Momentum Newsletter are all lawyers and mothers, fighting daily for the physical safety and economic security of ALL women and girls. We honor and thank them, and ALL mothers, on Mother’s Day – this Sunday, May 12.

New Legal Toolkit for Women’s Economic Equality!

Legal Momentum just released our Legal Toolkit for Women’s Economic Equality (New York State), a product of our Women Valued Initiative. The Toolkit educates ALL women in New York State about their workplace rights and how to better protect them. It offers guidance on 13 core issues that impact women’s economic security from sexual harassment to equal pay to paid family leave, and more. After starting in New York State, our goal is to grow the Women Valued Initiative and create Legal Toolkits for other states! Click here to download the Legal Toolkit and related resources. 

In compiling our groundbreaking, comprehensive Toolkit, we relied on the expertise of the Women Valued Advisory Council, comprised of organizations providing critical support to underserved women across New York State. With our Advisory Council’s help, we worked to make our Toolkit intersectional and inclusive for women in all kinds of working environments. The Toolkit provides targeted guidance for women who are the most undervalued in our economy – including farmworkers, domestic workers, hospitality workers, immigrant women, and survivors of gender-based violence. It is our hope that the Toolkit will empower women in the workplace to come together and claim their value.

LM in The New York Times: VAWA Passes the House!

On April 4, 2019, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives. This is a huge victory for Legal Momentum: we led the effort to pass the very first VAWA in 1994 and fiercely advocated for the Act in every reauthorization cycle since. LM President & CEO Carol Baldwin Moody, an acclaimed champion of marginalized women, emphasizes in The New York Times: “Addressing gender-based violence seems like it would be a bipartisan issue… Unfortunately there was more debate about a bill that reflects the real needs of survivors than we would expect.” Click here to learn more about LM's ongoing work to protect and reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.

This New York Times quote is especially exciting for Legal Momentum because Ms. Moody’s quote was the first quote of the piece, and LM was one of only two organizations (along with the National Network to End Domestic Violence, NNEDV) to be quoted at all. We are proud to be fighting for VAWA alongside NNEDV and other members of the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence; the passage of House Bill #HR1585 (the 2019 VAWA Reauthorization) brings us one step closer to a full reauthorization of a VAWA that includes key enhancements for all survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

LM in The New York Times: Dangers of Marital Rape

Lynn Hecht Schafran, the highly respected Director of Legal Momentum’s National Judicial Education Program (NJEP), was featured in the New York Times on April 13, providing historical context and critical information about marital – or “intimate partner” – rape. The acclaimed NJEP, founded in 1980, has long worked to educate judges and court professionals about the unique harms and dangers of marital/intimate partner rape. There is a common misperception is not harmful, but: “The opposite is true,” Ms. Schafran stresses. “The loss of trust is devastating.” Click here to learn more about the National Judicial Education Program's work.

NJEP’s work to combat outdated, misogynist thinking around marital rape is important because, as explained in the New York Times piece, “…marital rape has been a crime in all 50 states since 1993,” but “the overwhelming majority of states still have loopholes on the books that can make it difficult… to prosecute such cases.” As such, it is crucial that judges and court personnel understand the impact and dangers of marital rape, which NJEP’s free web course Intimate Partner Sexual Abuse: Adjudicating This Hidden Dimension of Domestic Violence Cases describes in detail in Module II.

Research documents that forced sex in the context of domestic violence is a red flag for increased violence to the point of lethality. States must close the loopholes in their laws that make prosecution of marital rape so difficult, and judges and justice system professionals must be educated about the profound impact of these crimes. Ms. Schafran and NJEP are committed to providing that education through NJEP’s many resources, our Intimate Partner Sexual Abuse web course, other online curricula, publications, and in-person trainings.

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