Shelter from the Storm
The Desert Sun Editorial Board
RAUL RUIZ: VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT WILL PROTECT COACHELLA VALLEY
Palm Desert: March 1, 2013– Rep. Raul Ruiz said Friday the federal Violence Against Women Act that he and his fellow House members passed on Thursday would offer important and deserved protections to all women in the Coachella Valley and across the country.
The issue should never be a political or partisan issue, but instead a human issue, Ruiz told a couple dozen valley leaders invited to a news conference at Shelter from the Storm in Palm Desert on Friday.
“When I voted, I thought of my patients’ health,” said Ruiz, a former emergency room physician at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage. “I saw their faces. I saw their bruises. I saw their black eyes.”
The Palm Desert Democrat said domestic violence is far from over and that the community would continue to combat this problem that is unfortunately all too common.
He joined community leaders, anti-abuse advocates and workers from the shelter and other organizations, including the Riverside County Sexual Assault Services Staff and police officers, at the shelter, praising the impact the bill will have on women throughout the valley.
The eldest son of Nancy Gonzalez, Coachella chapter representative of Lideres Campesinas, died at the hands of her own husband, a man who had beat her for years.
“I lived tormented. ... (My son’s death) gave me the energy and the anger to fight for everyone in the same situation,” she said in Spanish.
“That was violence,” she said. “No one could believe what level of violence I lived in.”
Gonzalez, who is now active in working against abuse, said she had once felt enslaved but today felt joy to“see that the doors are starting to open” in awareness and toward ending violence.
Angelina Coe, executive director of Shelter from the Storm, said abuse has been going on in this region for centuries — to sisters, mothers, daughters and grandmothers. But she added that these people have a voice in the community leaders gathered at the conference.
“Together, we can end the violence in our community. ... Together united with this legislation, we can make a difference,” she said.
The legislation, re-authorization of a law that expired late last year, offers expanded protection to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender women, immigrants and tribal women, giving tribal courts the ability to try non-natives in cases of abuse on Indian land.
“All women deserve representation. They all deserve a voice. They all deserve to live without violence just like any other women in our district,” Ruiz said, noting that this law is an opportunity to protect everyone.
Everyone can relate to this issue because everyone has been changed in some way because of domestic violence, he said.
Melinda Tramaglio of the Palm Springs chapter of the National Organization for Women said that, as a lesbian, she was thankful to see the law pass with protections for everyone.
“We are all women,” Tramaglio said.
She added that there is also domestic abuse in the gay and lesbian community that needs to be addressed.
The tribal provisions resonated strongly with leaders from local tribes.
Mary Ann Andreas of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians said she is very happy to see the law finally come to pass and the jurisdictional gap closed in Indian communities. She hopes the next time it comes up for re-authorization “it doesn’t take another 500 years.”
“Finally, we made sense and we’re moving forward,” Andreas said.