This earnest polemic suffers from a fatal lack of proportion. Star divorce lawyer Felder and journalist Victor (Voice of...


GETTING AWAY WITH MURDER: Weapons for the War Against Domestic Violence

This earnest polemic suffers from a fatal lack of proportion. Star divorce lawyer Felder and journalist Victor (Voice of Reason: Hanan Ashrawi and Peace in the Middle East, 1994) make a persuasive case, for those who remain unconvinced, that our criminal justice system fails to adequately protect battered women; to their credit, they not only describe the problem's many aspects but recommend solutions. Some of their ideas make sense, such as better communication among the medical, social service, and judicial systems in order to track the histories of victims and abusers. Other of their ideas merit debate, such as mandating arrests when domestic violence is a possibility, so that cops will not ignore an incident for fear of a wrongful arrest lawsuit. But the authors focus so narrowly on the need to protect victims that the surrounding reality gets blurred. They zealously demand that every injury that a medical professional suspects may involve battering be reported to authorities, as some states require in cases of suspected child abuse, and dismiss as ""politically correct"" the view, common among advocates for battered women, that an adult woman should be deemed capable of deciding whether to subject her relationship to months of police and judicial scrutiny. They endorse giving every woman who enters a hospital, for whatever reason, a detailed questionnaire to determine if she is a secret victim. They would subject a doctor or nurse to criminal liability for accepting a ""blatantly implausible"" explanation of an injury, thus enlisting people trained in medicine, not police work, as criminal investigators. They propose that every man who is charged with domestic violence, even if acquitted, be required to undergo treatment. They advocate a domestic violence program ""in every church, synagogue, school, university, government agency, and private corporation across the country."" Reduces a tragedy to what seems a parody of well-intentioned reform.

Pub Date: March 20, 1996


Page Count: 224

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1996