Violence Against Women in New York
Last updated September 2012
Population of women: 10,024,576 (2011)
Life expectancy of women: 80.2 years (for females born in 2000)
School life expectancy of women: Unavailable
Adult illiteracy for women: 22.1% (2003)
Unemployment of women: 7.8% (2011)
Adult economic activity rate: 58.5% (percentage of women in the labor force 2006 - 2010)           
Gender Equality
The New York State constitution provides equal protection under the law: “No person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws of this state or any subdivision thereof. No person shall, because of race, color, creed or religion, be subjected to any discrimination in his or her civil rights by any other person or by any firm, corporation, or institution, or by the state or any agency or subdivision of the state.” N.Y. Const. Art. I § 11. Noticeably, this clause is gender neutral, but this was not always the case. This equal protection clause was adopted by New York’s Constitutional Convention of 1938— it was recently made gender neutral on November 6, 2001 following a statewide vote. This vote and the subsequent revision to the state’s constitution sends the strong message that male and female are on an equal playing field under New York laws.
New York citizens receive additional protections under the Fourteen Amendment of the United States Constitution. This amendment prohibits state action that denies citizens equal protection under the law and further prohibits state action that abridges citizens’ rights under the federal Constitution. Furthermore, the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution specifically protects women’s right to vote.

New York has taken significant efforts to reduce violence against women. In 1976, the state opened its first domestic violence shelter in New York City (NYC). Subsequently, the state created the New York State (NYS) Governor’s Task Force on Domestic Violence in 1979. In 1983, The Governor’s Commission on Domestic Violence replaced the task force. Four years later, the Domestic Violence Prevention Act of 1987 passed and the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (OPDV) was formed in 1992— this notably predates its federal counterpart, the 1994 Violence Against Women Act. The OPDV has been instrumental in working with both the legislature and the judiciary to effectively respond to and prevent domestic violence in the state. >>Learn more

New York is also faced with combating the growing national problem presented by sexual assault. The New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault estimates that the average cost for each sexual assault is $110,000. This amount represents $500 in short term medical care, $2,400 in mental health services, $2,200 in lost productivity, and $104,900 in pain and suffering. These figures illustrate the extent of impact that sexual assault has on a woman’s life. >>Learn more
In New York, sex discrimination is prohibited by the state’s Human Rights Law. N.Y. Executive Law, Article 15. The state maintains that every individual in the state should be afforded equal opportunities and that gender-based discrimination and harassment should be eliminated.  N.Y. Executive Law § 290(3) identifies seven areas in which discriminatory practices are prohibited: (1) in employment, (2) in places of public accommodation, resort or  amusement,  (3) in  educational  institutions,  (4) in public  services,  (5) in housing accommodations, (6) in commercial space, and (7) in credit transactions. >>Learn more
Sex trafficking is a particularly large problem in New York—not only is NYC one of the most popular cities used by traffickers to bring women into the country, but it is often the final destination for trafficking victims. This crime is prohibited under federal and state law. In 2006, three large sex trafficking rings were shut down in New York and the high publicity prompted legislative intervention. The following year, New York passed its first Anti-Human Trafficking Legislation, which took effect on November 1, 2007. >>Learn more