An Open Letter to Scott Lee Cohen

February 10, 2010

Dear Mr. Cohen,

Thank you for requesting a meeting with the Chicago Chapter of the National Organization for Women to discuss the future of your political career.  Chicago NOW has been a stalwart defender of the rights of women and girls since 1967.  We appreciate that you recognize that fact enough to reach out to us, however belatedly.  Your spokesman’s email said that the requested meeting is critical to further your “understanding of women’s issues.”  We know that the world of women’s issues can be vast and complex, but there are some basics that you will need to cover before moving forward.  First and foremost, violence is never the answer.

The facts on domestic violence are devastating.  In 2006 the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control published a fact sheet stating that “women experience about 4.8 million intimate partner-related physical assaults and rapes” every year.  According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1,181 women were murdered by an intimate partner in 2005. That’s an average of three women every day. (Citations at NOW.org)

Mr. Cohen, we will consider meeting with you, but before any plans are made, we need you to make some changes to show the people of Illinois that you are really sincere.

  1. File the paperwork necessary to formally step down.
  2. Publicly acknowledge the allegations made against you by the women in your life.  If you have harmed these women, do not make excuses; simply state what you have done.
  3. Apologize
  4. Pay back any child support that is due.
  5. Commit to ending violence against women and girls in Illinois.

We hope you can understand why the allegations against you have caused such an upheaval.  We need leaders who can lead by example.  Perhaps we will meet face to face once this checklist is complete.  Until then, good luck with your endeavors.  We urge you to take this time to make yourself into a new person.

Best Regards,

Chicago Chapter of the National Organization for Women

New Illinois Domestic Violence, Stalking Laws

Advocates praise new domestic violence, stalking laws

Two new state laws strengthening protections for victims of domestic violence and stalking were welcomed today by advocates who have long complained that Illinois does too little to stop these crimes.

Under existing law, stalking victims are unable to obtain an order of protection unless they have a domestic relationship with the stalker or have suffered an attack.

Beginning Jan. 1, a victim will be able to secure an order of protection against anyone who intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly engages in repeated and unwanted contact with them or with a member of their immediate family or household. Victims must prove they are alarmed or experience reasonable apprehension regarding their safety or the safety of family members.

A second law requires that parolees accused of domestic violence be automatically arrested for violating their parole.

It also doubles to 4 years the mandatory supervised release term for a number of domestic crimes and requires 40 hours of domestic violence training for parole officers handing offenders convicted of domestic violence felonies.

Read the rest of this Chicago Tribune article here.