And let’s please just start calling it “violence,” without qualifying it as “domestic” and somehow less important than violence committed by strangers. According to a recent survey of 1,000 adult women from 18 to 70 years old:
Fully half (54%) of American women worry they or someone they know will be a victim of domestic violence. Younger women ages 18-29 are most worried, with more than two-thirds (68%) saying they are worried about this threat. Of these younger women, 36 percent say they are “very worried” and 32 percent say they are “somewhat worried.”
In contrast, half (50%) of older women ages 30-70 say they are worried about domestic violence, with 23 percent of them saying they are “very worried” and 27 percent “somewhat worried.”
Fear of violence was even higher among African American women–60 percent are “worried” about being hurt by someone close to them and 34 percent are “very worried.”
And get this:
Two-thirds (66%) of all women and 73 percent of younger women say that addressing violence against women should be a top priority for President-elect Obama and Congress in the first year of the new administration. Most significant, eight in 10 Black women (83%) say violence against women should be a top priority.
Good luck with that.
Women live in fear of violence for good reason, according to recently released report on federal crime statistics, the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS).
A new government report showing huge increases in the incidences of domestic violence, rape, and sexual assault over a two-year period in the United States deserves immediate attention from lawmakers and the incoming administration, Human Rights Watch said today. The statistics show a 42-percent increase in reported domestic violence and a 25-percent increase in the reported incidence of rape and sexual assault.
The National Crime Victimization Survey, based on projections from a national sample survey, says that at least 248,300 individuals were raped or sexually assaulted in 2007, up from 190,600 in 2005, the last year the survey was conducted. The study surveyed 73,600 individuals in 41,500 households. Among all violent crimes, domestic violence, rape, and sexual assault showed the largest increases. Except for simple assault, which increased by 3 percent, the incidence of every other crime surveyed decreased.
“The numbers in this survey show an alarmingly high rate of sexual violence in this country,” said Sarah Tofte, researcher for the US Program at Human Rights Watch. “This should serve as a wake-up call that more must be done to address the problem in the US.”
The projected number of violent crimes committed by intimate partners against women increased from 389,100 in 2005 to 554,260 in the 2007 report. By comparison, the number of violent crimes against men by intimate partners went down.
The report says that previous methodology used by the government to compile crime statistics greatly underestimated the rate of gender-based violence in the U.S. The increases in 2007 may reflect that change in methodology, suggesting that past reports have underestimated the atmosphere of constant threat that women must live with in this country.
At least one male columnist, Errol Lewis of the New York Daily News, has addressed this issue.
The best gift any adult can get for a youngster this holiday season – particularly the girls in their life – is straight talk about the epidemic of domestic violence that hurts or kills women and girls in every corner of our society.
We’ll someday look back and wonder what took us so long to shake off the shameful cloak of silence that keeps people from talking about domestic violence.
Gee, I wonder if it has anything to do with a pop culture where women are referred to as bitches and whores, and where high school girls are portrayed as sex objects in movies and on TV? And of course he doesn’t make the connection to the misogyny we have seen on public display for the past year.
And what about a presidential candidate and now President-elect who not-so-subtly encourages misogyny in the media and among his supporters? Does anyone seriously think that President-elect Barack Obama will really do anything to change the lives of American women for the better? This is the man who gave Hillary Clinton the finger, who compared Sarah Palin to a pig, and who has refused to address the disgusting behavior of his top speechwriter, and who has invited misogynist and homophobe Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration. None of the so-called “feminist” organizations seem poised to fight for women’s rights to physical safety either. We have to find ways to and force the media and our government to take gender-based violence seriously. Women should not have to live in fear of violence and death just because they are women!
I absolutely believe that Barack Obama must take responsibility for dealing with the problem of violence against women. The first step he needs to take in this direction is to educate himself and raise his own consciousness. He should have to watch videotaped interviews with women and girls who have been raped and abused. We women must force him to wake up from his male chauvinist stupor and start being a President who respresents women as well as men and gays as well as straights. He needs to fire Jon Favreau and publicly acknowledge that he was wrong not to do it sooner. He could have made a difference by calling out the media and his own supporters for their sexism and misogyny over the past year. Instead he chose to use this disgusting behavior to advance his own career. The President wields a great deal of influence. If Barack Obama doesn’t lead on this issue, his attitude will translate into greater increased in violence against women.
In the comments, Bluelyon points out that columnist Errol Lewis (quoted above), while well meaning, has drawn a faulty conclusion from the shocking statistics about violence against women. He suggests talking to young girls about it, but what about the boys? Isn’t it even more vital to educate them about this problem? After all, most of the perpetrators are men. Thanks, Bluelyon. As sensitized as I have become to sexism, that one got by me.
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