NYC Establishes Civil Rights Remedy for Victims of Gender-Biased Crime

On November 30, a New York City Council Committee passed a new law that would allow victims of rape, domestic violence, and other crimes motivated by gender bias to sue the perpetrators in civil cases. NYC Mayor Rudolph Giuliani is expected to sign the bill this week, making the city the first in the nation to establish this civil right for victims of violence against women since the May Supreme Court decision nullifying the civil rights remedy of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act See Feminist News, May 15, 2000). In that ruling, the Supreme Court declared that the regulation of crime was under the jurisdiction of the states and localities, not with Congress. New York City is the first to take steps to establish such protections for victims of violence against women since the ruling. The new measure allows women to bring suit up to seven years after an incident, and allows them to sue for lawyers’ fees and punitive damages as well as compensation. It requires plaintiffs to prove that the acts were motivated by gender bias; typical evidence in such cases includes anti-woman epithets and acts that “perpetuated stereotypes of women’s submissive role.” The New York Times reported that, while overall crime in New York City has been declining, incidents of domestic violence have remained steady.


New York Times - December 1, 2000

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