By Anita Stewart
Violence against women continues even though we as women think “we can bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan,” to quote the old Enjoli perfume commercial from years ago. We would like to think we are liberated and free. Well, I don’t want to be a “Debbie Downer” but nothing could be further from the truth. Even the Equal Rights Amendment did not make us equal to men as it is not yet law in the US as it needs to be ratified by fifteen more states. Many women today think this has already been done.
Equality is important for women since most of the time, they are the breadwinners and are raising the children alone. Currently they are making 72 cents to a man’s dollar. Finances play an important part with relationships and the sexual violence and abuse can occur with these added stresses.With couples, half of the violence and abuse occurs in relationships that have an annual income of $10,000 or less.
Granted, we women here in the US have it better than women in other parts of the world in varying degrees. But there is still an epidemic of rape, sexual violence and other forms of violence against women in this country and the stats are much higher in other countries.
Some of the staggering statistics in the US include:
- 22 million women in the US have been raped
- 18.3% of American women are survivors
- almost half of those women were under 17 years old
- every 90 seconds someone is sexually assaulted in the US
- one out of every five American women has been the victims of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime
- less than half of domestic violence incidents are reported to police
- an estimated 17,500 women and children are trafficked into the United States annually for sexual exploitation or forced labor.
- Factoring in unreported rapes, about 6% of rapists will ever spend a day in jail. 15 out of 16 will walk free.
What Can We Do?
Women can insist within our circles of friends, family, loved ones and social circles that there should be no VICTIM BLAMING or VICTIM SHAMING. Women can also provide a support network for other women who have had these experiences and need to talk through them. We can work together to increase awareness within our own communities.
There are many ways that we can do this and several worthwhile organizations to get involved with. For instance, all through the months of February and March there is VDay (Vagina Monologues) events everywhere and you can find them posted on the following website: http://www.vday.org/. Attending or participating in one of these events equals amazing consciousness raising and empowerment with other women. This writer just signed up to participate in a local event.
Red My Lips
Red My Lips is a new organization that speaks out against Sexual Violence and Victim Shaming. The organization is calling for supporters to wear red lipstick throughout the month of April. They are Tweeting, have a Facebook page, an Event page, a website and are networking. One simple act of outright defiance can work to increase awareness about this epidemic in our communities and spark conversation so we can work together to stop it. Grab the brightest tube of red lipstick you have and join in!
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