Progressive Women Must Unite in Support of International Violence Against Women Act

International Violence Against Women Act

The World Health Organization just released appalling statistics on domestic violence against women. The ten country study included: Bangladesh, Brazil, Ethiopia, Japan, Peru, Namibia, Samoa, Serbia and Montenegro, Thailand and the United Republic of Tanzania. The report concludes that violence against women is widespread. Amnesty International is urging Americans to support the International Violence Against Women Act in response to these horrifying statistics.

Amnesty International Fights Violence Against Women
Amnesty International Fights Violence Against Women

Although the WHO study doesn’t include the US, the incidence of domestic violence and intimate partner violence in this “free land” are chilling. On average, more than three women and one man are murdered by their intimate partners in this country every day. In 2000, 1,247 women were killed by an intimate partner. The same year, 440 men were killed by an intimate partner. Intimate partner homicides accounted for 30% of the murders of women and 5% percent of the murders of men. *

Over two-thirds of violent victimizations against women were committed by someone known to them: 31% of female victims reported that the offender was a stranger. Approximately 28% were intimates such as husbands or boyfriends, 35% were acquaintances, and the remaining 5% were other relatives. (In contrast, victimizations by intimates and other relatives accounted for only 5% of all violent victimizations against men. Men were significantly more likely to have been victimized by acquaintances (50%) or strangers (44%) than by intimates or other relatives.) **

And contrary to popular notions, domestic violence also occurs often against well-educated, well-to-do women — as written about by Susan Weitzman in her book “Not to People Like Us”: Hidden Abuse in Upscale Marriages.” As a country that highly values personal liberty, these kinds of statistics are quite simply unacceptable. Although we like to think of America as a nation of the free, there are hundreds of thousands of women in this country who are not free. We can’t solve this problem in our own country — imagine how bad it is in countries that do not have all of our resources.

The WHO study reveals:

– Between 15% and 71% of women reported physical or sexual violence by a husband or partner.

– Many women said that their first sexual experience was not consensual. (24% in rural Peru, 28% in Tanzania, 30% in rural Bangladesh, and 40% in South Africa).

– Between 4% and 12% of women reported being physically abused during pregnancy.

– Every year, about 5,000 women are murdered by family members in the name of honour each year worldwide

– Worldwide, up to one in five women and one in 10 men report experiencing sexual abuse as children. Children subjected to sexual abuse are much more likely to encounter other forms of abuse later in life.

Violence against women is the result of a power over and power under structure. It’s the result of patriarchy maintaining its power and control, using economic, physical, and emotional weapons to do so. I can’t help but wonder why we, one of the richest countries in the world, continue to look the other way as our own women are murdered every day, let alone women around the world. Domestic violence is so ingrained in our culture, people barely bat an eye. When Rhianna was beaten up to Chris Brown, it was only days before the headlines were “Why did she stay?” instead of “Why did he beat her?”.

The attitudes about violence toward women are neanderthal-esque here, we’re still stuck in the “are you sure this isn’t her fault, after all, they were fighting” stage. There are countries where this is not tolerated and where a man is shunned for this kind of thing. It would be really great if this country could evolve to that point one day. But I digress.

Domestic violence is the result of the same patriarchal, authoritarian power structure best represented in this country by the old boys club of the current Republican Party, which fights to maintain the status quo of white male privilege. Now, if those white males respected and honored women and minorities, we wouldn’t have a problem necessarily. But while they give lip service to those ideas, their main concern is keeping other groups down so they can stay up. But the Republican Party isn’t in power right now (as evidenced by the never-ending shrieking and cries for special prosecutors to impeach the Democratic President). Perhaps we can push forward with legislation to better protect women and children here and all over the world.

According to Amnesty International’s website, “The International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) is the first comprehensive piece of legislation in the United States aimed at ending violence against women and girls around the world. It would improve our government’s response when women are victims of sex trafficking and rape during war and would provide aid to women’s groups on the ground working to help survivors of domestic and sexual violence.”

Your representatives need to hear from you if you support this legislation. This is the kind of legislation we can hope to get passed with a Democratic majority. Our Vice President has long stood up for women’s rights. If not now, then when?

We need to make our voices heard on this issue. We can’t afford to be silent.

The violence aimed at women in this country and around the world is unacceptable. Please join me in standing up for your sisters around the globe.


*Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Data Brief, Intimate Partner Violence, 1993-2001, February 2003. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Intimate Partner Violence in the U.S. 1993-2004, 2006.

**Ronet Bachman Ph.D., U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Violence Against Women: A National Crime Victimization Survey Report,” January 1994, p. 1

7 Replies to “Progressive Women Must Unite in Support of International Violence Against Women Act”

  1. Thank you for this update, Sarah Jones, on Memorial Day Weekend, when we so often think primarily of the military sacrifice of enlisted soldiers.

    However, the regularly inflicted violence to the bodies of civilian women and girls in war ravaged areas is a recent focus of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as well as many other national and international leaders, both women and men, and deserves to be included in Memorial Day assessments.

    Your article is a timely expansion of the further costs of military war, as well as the cost of the steady domestic war against our most defenseless: girls, female adolescents and women.

    Thank you.

  2. I have tried to write a response to this at least five times. Simply because what I’m trying to write sounds like I am trying to let them off the hook. I think your article is excellently well written and very much to the point. The only point at which we separate is your discussion of the Republican Party

    The reason I have tried so many times is that my response sounds apologetic for men. But in any case this is my belief.

    I believe that since the dawn of our species it has been man’s role to protect and provide, while women had a different role to play although no less important. Beginning with the time that man was basically less than human if a man has built up an image of himself as a superior being through to the fact that it provides protection and food over and for the female(family). I believe it is absolutely an ingrained natural response today. I also believe based on archaeological findings that the female gathered some foods, later did cooking and in general was over the household such as it was thousands of years ago.

    okay with that said,I think that men and women still have those ingrained responses within them. for the most part the male species still plays the role of the hunter gatherer and protector. The female still plays the role of taking care of the family unit. Understand I am speaking basically. Of course women work and achieve the same as men today. But that’s not the point of trying to make.

    The vast number of men are able to deal normally for the superiority inflections that are ingrained. Were this not true we would not have survived as a species. I believe there are cultures and individual men who cannot control their natural inclinations. These are the abusers. Within the females there is the need to stay with the family( whether there are children are not) or view themselves as failures. these are the females that we ask why did they stay.

    In this day and age we should be intelligent enough to control these things. However abuse today is absolutely no different than the abuse that has occurred down through the centuries. I do not think that we can pin abuse on a political party. I say that simply because I do not believe abuse is contained within a political party’s boundaries. I agree with you that the subjugation of women is pushed by some political platforms such as not allowing a woman to decide what happens to her own body. And that can reinforce the perceived superiority of men. but I do not think that it’s a prime reason for the abuse.

    So what is the answer for the abusers? I am not sure if there is one. I do not believe that the abuse of women is any different today than it was 1000 years ago. Maybe the methods are but the basic facts remain. Maybe another thousand years from now it will just be a side note in history. I am not sure if counseling is effective in quelling what some people respond to that causes the abuse. perhaps prison is the only answer for people who cannot control what are obviously wrong responses.

    Perhaps this example may give light to the extremely poor manner in which I’m trying to explain this. If you have cats, have you ever noticed that your cat will lay on its back in front of you? That is an ingrained response called submission. That cat is performing an action which is hundreds of thousands of years old. Have you ever noticed that when you scratch his belly he claws and scratches at you? You have just broken a bond. The cat has submitted to you and now you are attacking it. Fortunately cats are not intelligent enough to tell you what you have just done. the world of mammals is packed full of ingrained responses that are hundreds and hundreds of thousands of years old.

    A cat does not have to control that response to submit, but a male has to control his responses of protection, and control. I believe some males sees something in a woman that makes him feel inferior and not in control therefore he fights back. And you have abuse. if that were true simply on the surface I think it could be dealt with. But when you add what I feel is many thousands of years of ingrained response then it becomes practically impossible to either stop or condition against.

    I have a feeling this is not going to set well. And I’m quite sure I have entirely botched what I’m trying to say. I am not trying to excuse the abuse just find a common reason for it. I don’t think that we can find it in today’s explanations simply because as I said before it is no different today than it was 1000 or probably 5000 years ago. As long as abuse happens, the methods are inconsequential to a degree.

    I simply think that we need to look far past what we see today as abuse, because I don’t think that there are common reasons for it that pertain to only today

  3. if you needed any more examples it can certainly find one in that Van Der Skool fellow. It’s pretty obvious he has a problem controlling his primal urges. I have a feeling that the only cure for him is to be locked up for a long time. In fact I think that’s the only cure for the entire situation. If he killed this woman just because she looked at his computer then he has some pretty serious issues

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