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Reid: Unemployment Leads to Domestic Violence

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
The Senate's jobs bill, which passed a key procedural vote last night with the help of five Republicans, could do more than help people get back to work, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid suggested Monday -- it could bring down the rate of domestic violence.

"I met with some people while I was home dealing with domestic abuse. It has gotten out of hand," Reid said on the Senate floor, the Hill newspaper reports. "Why? Men don't have jobs."

Even though women are losing jobs as well, "women aren't abusive, most of the time," Reid said. "Men, when they're out of work, tend to become abusive."

There is evidence to support Reid's claim. A 2004 report from the National Institute of Justice found that unemployment is one of the factors "significantly associated with increased risk of violence." The Boston Globe reported in Dec. 2008 that "domestic violence programs report that victims experience an increase in abuse in part because out-of-work abusers have more opportunity to batter."

Meanwhile, unemployment continues to be a larger problem for men than it is for women. Last year, the recession was dubbed the "mancession" because men were likely to be employed in the industries taking the biggest hit in the recession, like manufacturing and construction. The latest statistics from the Department of Labor show that in January, while the rate of unemployment for adult men remained at 10 percent, the jobless rate for adult women fell to 7.9 percent.

Conservative political commentators have had mixed reactions to Reid's remarks. "Allahpundit" at gave credence to the link between domestic violence and unemployment but said, "Here's the real question: If passing a jobs bill is needed to rescue women (and men) in distress, then why didn't this moron and his caucus get to work on it earlier instead of focusing on ObamaCare to the exclusion of all else?"

In fact, some proponents of the Democrats' health care reform package did try and frame it as a matter of ending domestic violence, among other things. Eight states currently have no rules against allowing health insurance companies to deny coverage to women who have suffered from domestic violence, labeling it a "pre-existing condition," the Huffington Post first reported. The Democrats' bills would prohibit insurers from denying coverage to anyone because of pre-existing conditions.

"Think of this," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. "You've survived domestic violence, and now you are discriminated [against] in the insurance market because you have a pre-existing medical condition. Well, that will all be gone."

Stephanie Condon

Stephanie Condon is a political reporter for

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