Sunday, September 21, 2008

Woman, Say 'No' to Babies or Why Didn't the Judge Stop that Man from Having More Kids?

We've heard this before. We may have even said this before: "Some people should not be allowed to have children." A Texas judge has put that belief into action. (BH)
That's the introduction to my post at BlogHer.com about a Texas court's ruling on Felicia Salazar, 20, the woman who did not get medical help for her 19-month-old daughter after the child's father, Roberto Alvarado, beat the toddler. Alvarado is also Salazar's 25-year-old boyfriend. Judge Charlie Baird sentenced Felicia Salazar to 10 years probation on the condition that she not bear more children

I don't know the full circumstances of why Salazar didn't stop Roberto Alvarado from breaking the child's bones and injuring her in other ways. Did she not think what Alvarado was doing was wrong? Has she physically abused the child in the past? Or is the case another one of a woman being afraid to confront her boyfriend/husband when he beats her child because the man will also beat the hell out of her? Those of us not in that situation would probably say, we'd rather draw his rage and take the beating instead of letting him beat our child, and I'm sure there are some mothers who've done that, but we don't know what we'd do in such a circumstance if we lived with abuse daily.

Is the 20-year-old mother "just as bad" as Alvarado or is she a young woman who suffers from battered person syndrome aka battered wife syndrome?

I don't know any more than what I've read about Salazar, that she's a young mother with no criminal record, but I do know that Alvarado, while getting a 15-year-sentence, was not instructed to give up future fatherhood and Salazar was told to stop having babies during her 10-year probation. As I asked in the BlogHer post, will 15 years in a Texas prison rehabilitate Alvarado so that when he's released he never beats a child again? It seems there's a double standard here. I can see why the judge thought that Salazar shouldn't have children, but why did he not address Alvarado fathering a child and then beating that child?

Generally, I don't understand women who let men willfully injure their children, abuse their children, and in some cases, commit incest with their children, and yet they don't stop him or leave. When I hear such stories, I get pissed off, and assume that I'd never stay with a man who was hurting my children. The truth is most of us don't know what we'd do in a certain situation until we live through it. Most of our decisions are based on how we feel about ourselves at the moment of the incident. If we feel we're powerless, then we don't act to stop the powerful. So, I do believe it's possible to be a victim of abuse and not know how to get out of an abusive situation or to feel helpless to stop what's happening.

Furthermore, I do not know how Texas courts handles domestic violence cases or that state's track record on violence against women, but I do know something about New Jersey (where I used to live). In New Jersey, women are advised by domestic violence counselors and attorneys not to defend themselves when their husbands or boyfriends hits them because the courts will not help you if you fight back. The courts must see only a helpless, cowering female and a big burly man. If a woman attempts to protect herself in New Jersey from a domestic partner who beats her, then the courts may rule not that her husband or boyfriend was abusive and should be under a restraining order but that they both were abusive, engaged in brawl, and so the woman who defends herself will be in as much danger of being charged with a crime as the man who started pounding on her.

That's right. In New Jersey, a woman is advised to let her husband/boyfriend beat the hell out of her and get help later. It may be the same in most states for all I know. So much for women's rights.

As for Judge Charlie Baird telling Felicia Salazar that a condition of her 10-year probation is she not bear more children, if I interpret the condition clause correctly, then I think Baird may have been wise. Salazar needs ten years to grow up, find herself, and to develop the feminine strength to never let anyone abuse one of her children, which also suggests Salazar needs to get strong enough never to be a victim of abuse herself.

But I think the ruling would have been more fair if Judge Baird had also said that when Alvarado leaves prison, that, at the least, he shouldn't father children while on probation either. Let him get out and stay clean for a while, prove he's no longer abusive before he impregnates another woman. The obvious argument against such a condition would be that it's impossible to enforce because the man could impregnate someone and the court would never know.

Nevertheless, the only way to tell whether Alvarado is no longer a threat to society and its children is to observe how he treats women and children while he's in society. Unfortunately, we have to let him out first to see the results.

You may read the BlogHer.com post at this link. It talks about other aspects of stopping poor women from having children. I did not address the possibility in that post that Salazar may have been abused herself.

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1 comment:

Red Eyes said...

Glad I found this blog, there's so much on here. I've browsed through your archive and would like to stop by again and leave a comment?