Request for a Commission on Crimes Against Women and a Protection Unit

On March 11, 1975, the Human Resources and Judiciary Committee, chaired by Councilmember Jeanette Williams, and the Public Safety and Health Committee jointly held a public hearing to discuss a proposed ordinance by the Feminist Coordinating Council to establish authority independent of the police department to deal with rape and domestic violence.

Councilmember Jeanette Williams opened the meeting, stating, "Because the other Councilmembers are not here, I am going to request that the tape of the presentation be presented to the other Members that have not arrived as of yet...The purpose of the meeting tonight is a look at the proposal by the Feminist Coordinating Council on a Women's Protection Division for the City of Seattle. This has been going back and forth for a period of time and I think it's appropriate right now that we take a look at this."

Sheila Bayne of the Feminist Coordinating Council described why the proposed ordinance was needed.

Excerpt from Joint Meeting of Human Resources and Judiciary and Public Safety and Health Committees, March 11, 1975

Transcript

Sheila Bayne: I'm Sheila Bayne,coordinator of the Feminist Coordinating Council, and I'm starting the presentation.

A woman seeking protection from an abusive husband or boyfriend can keep on asking the police for protection until, as in one recent case, she is beaten to death. Rape and violent assault present a threat to every woman in this city, regardless of age, race, social class or lifestyle. But victims are treated differently according to their race and social class. When a rapist was operating in the upper middle class white Madrona district, the Police Department added special units in the area and continued the search until the attacker was caught. But when minority women in the Rainier Vista Housing project are terrorized by a rapist, police advise the residents to work up a better communication system among themselves. When a woman is missing from a sorority house near the University of Washington, her picture is in the paper the day after her disappearance. But when a husband reports the disappearance of his wife from their home in a working class district of South Seattle, the police refuse for two days to even list her as missing.

Crimes of violence against women are deeply rooted in our society's view of women as property, as objects to be used, shared, traded, abused, whatever is most convenient at a given time. This view is so built into our culture that practically everyone condones it.

More information on this topic can be found in Councilmember Jeanette Williams' Subject Files (Record Series 4693-02), Box 27 Folder 4, and in Comptroller File 280667.

The entire discussion of the proposed ordinance establishing an independent Commission on Crimes Against Women and a Special Protection Unit can be heard here.

Citation: Joint Meeting of Human Resources & Judiciary and Public Safety Committees, March 11, 1975. Event ID 2809, Seattle City Council Legislative Department Audio Recordings (Record Series 4601-03).