A district judge in Montana has ordered a boyfriend convicted of abuse to write out “Boys do not hit girls” 5,000 times in addition to his six month jail sentence.
Pacer Ferguson was convicted of misdemeanor assault after he punched his girlfriend in the face during an argument in 2012. The assault fractured her face in three places and still causes her pain. A jury acquitted him of a more serious offence, however Ferguson will still spend eight years in prison for a separate robbery conviction.
This is not the first time that Montana District Judge G. Todd Baugh has caused controversy with his rulings. He was widely condemned after he sentenced a teacher convicted of raping a 14-year old student to just one month in prison.
During the trial he said that the girl was “older than her chronological age” and was “as much in control of the situation” as the teacher. The victim killed herself during the trial. Baugh’s comments and the light sentence caused outrage, however he insisted that he had merely chosen his words poorly, and that the sentence was appropriate.
Baugh’s ruling reflects a worrying pattern when it comes to sexual and physical violence against women. In Alabama recently a man was convicted of raping a teenage girl three times. He was sentenced to probation and no jail time.
The decision to force Pacer Ferguson to write out a sentence over and over like an errant school child is indicative of how, for many male judges, violence against women can be trivialized. The World Health Organization estimates that a staggering one in three females on this planet will experience physical, sexual or mental abuse in their life time. It is a public health crisis as serious as HIV/AIDS and cancer.
The fight to end the suffering of our sisters will not progress one inch unless we unite and make it clear that rape and violence against women is never acceptable, and cannot be treated as if the person responsible forgot their homework.