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Violence Against Women

March 25, 2014
tags:#domestic violence, #International Violence Against Women Act, #Nicholas D. Kristof, #rape, #World Health Organization
by:Jonathan Lutes
A 2013 World Health Organization report estimates the prevalence of violence against women at over 35 percent globally.

This means that over a third of the world’s female population (aged 15-44) are victims of sexual and/or physical abuse at least once in their lives. Figures reveal the correlation of geographic and socioeconomic factors to a woman’s lifetime risk of suffering abuse. Over 40 percent of women in the lower income regions of Africa and Southeast Asia are victims of violence, while the number is around 30 percent  in higher income regions, including Europe.

Sadly, these figures don’t account for those cases from Kibera, Kenya, the focus of a January New York Times  opinion piece by Nicholas Kristof . The victims in question are under the age of 15. Even more shockingly, only with the help of an organization called Shining Hope for Communities could the perpetrators of the abuse be brought to some kind of justice. In many countries, particular in those where the topic is taboo, rape is seldom punished – sometimes the victims are blamed for provoking attacks, and many victims avoid going to the police for fear of further abuse.

To raise awareness of global violence against women, Kristof suggests that the United States and US citizens look in their own backyard. A case in Steubenville, Ohio, where a 16-year-old girl was drugged and raped by a group of high school football players, only proves that the topic deserves attention anywhere in the world. While some countries, like India or Kenya, need to work on legislation to make sure perpetrators are punished accordingly, the United States has its own work to do. Skepticism of sexual violence often places blame on the victim, as happened in the Steubenville case. But that is not all; the U.S. International Violence Against Women Act has expired and Congress has shown reluctance to renew it. Even if passage of the VAWA will not save all women from harm, at the very least it is an important, symbolic show of support for those women who are victims of violence and an acknowledgement  that the problem is real.

Article written by:
Jonathan Lutes