International Violence Against Women Hearing

Yesterday, on Capitol Hill, members of the House Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights and Oversight met to discuss the International Violence Against Women Act. It was an impressive bi-partisan discussion on ending gender-based violence both at home and overseas.  Many interesting points were made, and I felt it was time to give them credence, to air them out.

Violence Against Women in the United States

Violence against women is an epidemic in the United States: domestic violence, sexual assault,  human trafficking.  These things are not going away and the statistics are not improving. These issues must be addressed.  But how?

First of all, we need to hold our justice system accountable for enacting laws on the books.  Perpetrators of violence against women need to be convicted and held accountable for their actions. It seems like common sense, but so many perpetrators slip through the cracks, so many get off with a slap on the hand,so many are released to do it again. This should not be. Mandatory stricter sentences need to be enacted and enforced. Judges need to use common sense so that a  woman fighting and testifying in court for her life is not dismissed with a wave of the hand only to be doused with gasoline and set on fire by her husband days later. The justice system needs to WORK.

Secondly, we need to stop the double standards. Human trafficking in this country is taking hold.  It can be seen in every major city in the US. Often, young women are bought and sold into prostitution rings. Here in the United States, these same women, women who are held against their will, are treated as criminals and are convicted. We see human trafficking in other countries and we consider it a crime, the women victims. In the United States, we ignore the long deep roots human traffickers have made, and go for the easy arrest. Local officials need more training and information on human trafficking so that they are able to break up the rings. These young women live in terrible oppressive situations, and we need to do more to bring light to this fact, and set these women free.

We need to enact the help of men, particularly young men. Listen VERY carefully to me. Young men have the ability to make a huge difference in this fight. It is amazing how young men step up, become advocates, and find answers to this problem when we treat them as a solution  rather than a perpetrator. We need to reach out to our young men and enact their help in ending violence and giving women the dignity they deserve.

We need to end the fact that violence against women is considered a pre-existing condition in our healthcare system.  This is a post in and of itself.

Finally, we need real assistance for the children of victims of domestic abuse. It is time to stop spouting rhetoric and get it done. It is known that those who see domestic violence in their own lives are more likely to become violent in their own future. We need to stop the cycle of violence. We need more funding for programs, we need more volunteers.  We need to protect those children that cannot protect themselves and give them real role models. Again, we need not pay this lip service, we need to act.

Violence Against Women Internationally

Women face rape at the hands of military regimes. They face genital mutilation. They face slavery. They face oppression. They face violence.

Let me be clear. We need to stop overlooking these tremendous violations and dismissing it as a difference in culture. VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IS NOT A CULTURE. It is a travesty. It is sickening. And our permissiveness in the name of culture gets us one result: more women raped, more women killed, more women enslaved.

We need more tough talk followed by tough action. We need sanctions. We cannot look at who gives us oil, who provides us with bailout money, who is too big for us to handle and look the other way when these horrible acts take place.  We need to act. We need more attention on places like Burma, one of the world’s worst offenders in the systematic use of rape as a weapon of war. We need to show them that we mean business.

What can we do as individuals?

Write your congressmen and congresswomen and state that you want them to support the International Violence Against Women Act. State that you want stricter sentences for those that commit acts of violence against women in our own country. Support local programs that assist those who are victims of violence. Volunteer to become  a mentor to the youth. Educate yourself on the issues. Become a knowledgeable advocate for those that are in need.

What solutions do you have to this problem?  We are in desperate need of innovative programs that help put a stop to violence against women.  I will value your responses.

Special Thanks to Rep. Bill Delahunt, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Rep. Ted Poe Ambassador Melanie Verveer, U.N. Goodwill Ambassador Nicole Kidman, and the founder of Breakthrough, Malika Dutt for a wonderful and informative bi-partisan hearing.

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5 Responses to “International Violence Against Women Hearing”

  1. The Mother 22 October 2009 at 8:04 am #

    Having done some research on the genital mutilation problem, I have to tell you, YES, it is cultural.

    Not in a, ‘we have the right to do this because of our culture kind of way,’ but in the ‘it’s really hard to stamp out because it’s our culture kind of way.’

    The communities that do this have been doing it for millennia. And the WOMEN expect it just as much as the men. Women without the mutilation are unmarriageable, or at least very, very low on the marriage ladder.

    Some success has been had with massive reeducation of the entire community, but it’s still a really hard thing for everyone to give up–and it has to be, literally, all at once, together.

    And here’s the flip side. Many, many of the women who have been mutilated are not at all unhappy.

    This is not an argument for FGM; it’s a travesty. But getting rid of it is going to take more than writing laws. All that does is move it underground, where infection and disaster ensue.
    The Mother´s last blog .. My ComLuv Profile


    Corina Reply:

    Thank you for your comment. I understand that there is a deep seated history to genital mutilation. Thank you for your explanation. The point that I am trying to make (and I think that you back up) is that there are ills that take place to women (including genital mutilation) where the travesties are shrouded and protected by the idea of culture. We should not look the other way.

    In no way am I suggesting that as something as deep seated at this is easy to stamp out. And know that I am no where near naive enough to think that passing laws is going to change some of these problems. Honestly, for something like genital mutilation, I don’t have an answer besides reeducation. I agree bit by bit that can enact change. I just don’t want beatings, rapes, mutilations, and forced prostitution to be overlooked because we are afraid of offending a “culture.” Those smarter than me may come up with an innovative plan to solve the problem. Until then, I hope to raise awareness and work with those who pay these issues a bit more than lip service.


    The Mother Reply:

    I agree, wholeheartedly.

    There is a massive amount of time, effort, research dollars and political back-room bargaining going on one the FGM problem. It is not being overlooked.

    The real issue in getting those research dollars and efforts properly aimed is the medieval theocracies in whose countries these mutilations are practiced.
    The Mother´s last blog .. My ComLuv Profile


  2. Nikki 26 October 2009 at 10:24 am #

    I agree!!!! I just have no idea if it will ever change! I myself have a history of abuse, and I must say it still is amaizing to me what I had to go through to get any kind of help…all he got was a slap on the wrist. Now, having a wonderful husband and three beautiful children, two of them being girls, I hope to god change is in the near future…it has to be!!!!

    Great post Corina!


  3. [...] the conference room to meet with my sisters.  Together, we are an autonomous collective, working to fight the status quo,  stepping up and speaking out against the worlds’ problems.  I carefully [...]

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