Ilya Shambat

Ilya Shambat
Melbourne, VIC, Australia
November 21
Adda Enterprises
Born in Russia, family moved to America when I was 12. Got a degree from University of Virginia at 18. Worked for Oracle, translated four books of classical Russian poety, was part of San Francisco and Washington, DC poetry and music scene. Good friends with San Francisco's own Persephone's Bees and acquainted with Patch Adams. Currently married with children, residing in Australia and working on a clean energy technology implementation.


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MAY 7, 2012 8:32PM

Sliding scale for domestic violence

Rate: 1 Flag
One thing that becomes very noticeable to someone who's not only traveled around but also had relationships with partners from different places is the vast difference in how domestic violence is treated across countries and across cultures within the same country.

If you live in rural Texas or in Queensland in Australia, you most likely will get away with serious violence against your wife or your children. If you live in a socially liberal area or are married to a feminist, a slap could send you to jail. I propose bringing some sanity to this matter by revising domestic violence laws based on severity of violence committed. 

Namely I propose a sliding scale, based on severity of violence, and appropriate sentencing based on the place on this sliding scale.

The sliding scale I propose would go from severe brutality (life-endangering violence, guns, knives, sulfuric acid, severe injuries) to brutality (broken bones, injuries, wounds, strangling) to severe violence (sticks, whips, visible bruises) to serious violence (punching, kicking, throwing, dragging by hair) to mild violence (slaps, light punches). 

Sentencing would be done based on the place on this sliding scale, with severe brutality carrying sentences of over 5 years (over 10 years in case of life-threatening violence); brutality of 3 to 5 years; severe violence 1 to 2 years; serious violence three to nine months; and mild violence a fine. 

We see these kind of sliding scales in laws all the time. With murder, there's first-degree to third-degree. With theft, larceny, assault, we likewise see distinctions made based on seriousness. Stealing a Porsche draws a heavier punishment than does stealing a postcard. Similar sanity needs to be applied to prosecution of domestic violence.

Such sanity is utterly lacking when some men smash their wives' skulls and wind up not only free but with custody of the children, while other men go to jail for a slap. By standard of "all violence is a crime," most men would be in prison. By standard of "women must put up with anything" or "family must be preserved at all costs," people who commit horrendous brutality not only go free but get to remain in charge of the family. There is no justice here, and there is also no reason here. As to the rest of the legal system, reason and justice must be applied to prosecution of domestic violence. Creating a sliding scale such as what I'm proposing would accomplish that task.

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domestic violence, crime, law

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It's a good idea, but the first thing you would run into is the holy principle of states' rights. The graduated punishment would have to be enacted 50 different times. Is there anything like uniform (federal) sentencing for domestic crimes in the US? If spousal abuse is considered a minor transgression in Texas, societal norms will govern the punishment meted out. We don't need to look hard for many extreme examples of how this works. "Let The Punishment Fit The Crime" was an ideal back in Victorian times and a good song too, but the idea hasn't taken off yet.