Janet Chung: How paid sick and safe days improve health and safety for survivors of gender violence

Written testimony of Janet Chung for Legal Voice

For House Bill 2508

Before the House Committee on Labor and Workforce Development

Good afternoon, Chairman and Members of the Committee. I am submitting this written testimony on behalf of Legal Voice in support of House Bill 2508 to establishing minimum standards for sick and safe leave from employment.

Legal Voice is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to advance the legal rights of women and girls in the Pacific Northwest. Our work encompasses a range of issues, including gender violence, economic justice, reproductive health, and family law, to name a few. Legal Voice was part of the coalition that worked to pass a paid sick and safe days ordinance in Seattle this past year. We care deeply about this issue because women disproportionately lack access to paid sick and safe days. A minimum labor standard for paid sick and safe days will improve the economic security of women and their families and the health and safety of women survivors of gender violence.

Specifically, we would like to provide information on the importance of access to paid safe days. As advocates for survivors of gender violence, including domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking, we hear from survivors about how violence impacts all aspects of their lives, including their employment.

In the United States, domestic violence results annually in 1200 deaths and two million injuries among women, and nearly 600,000 injuries among men. In Washington State, in 2010 there were 49,270 reported incidences of crimes related to domestic violence, and 2,499 reported instances of forcible rape. Nationally, almost 250,000 women are raped or sexually assaulted each year, and 1 million women and 371,000 men are victims of stalking each year.

Domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking cause great upheaval in a survivor’s life. In order to separate safely from their abusers, survivors of domestic violence must take numerous steps, including, for example, finding shelter, seeking counseling and medical care, filing restraining orders and attending court dates..

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