Last night, I was glued to the television as Amanda Berry’s chilling, horrific story unfolded, watching the details of how she was able to get help and rescue her six year old daughter, along with two other prisoners, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight. The three of them were held captive, most likely as sex slaves, possibly by three brothers, for ten years.
Amazed by the courage and resilience of these women, I am baffled and disgusted that people ever dare to claim that we live in some kind of post-feminist wold. In 2013, 90% of violence worldwide is perpetuated against women. There is sex slavery and human trafficking in America’s backyard. And still, stopping this violence couldn’t be lower on the U.S. priority list. We actually had to fight to pass the Violence Against Women act.
Just yesterday, the chief of the U.S. air force’s sexual assault prevention branch was arrested because he was charged with sexual assault. The guy who is supposed to be protecting women, in an institution that is supposed to be protecting Americans, is assaulting them. If that disconnect doesn’t show how fucked up America is on the issue of violence against women, I don’t know what does.
Today, the pentagon is supposed to release a report that states there are more than 70 sexual assaults involving military personnel every day. Every day. The U.S. military. Where do you think this report is going to be in today’s news cycle? How long will it stay in the news? Who is going to keep it there? Which politicians are going keep bringing attention to the crimes against women? Who is going to lead the action to finally stop it?
The violence that happened to Amanda Berry, GIna DeJesus and Michelle Knight is all of our responsibility. These sex crimes and gender crimes are not perpetuated by the Taliban or some another foreign government but are happening right here in the USA.
Violence against women is an epidemic in this country: One in four women (25%) has experienced domestic violence in her lifetime and on average, more than three women are murdered by their intimate partners in this country every day. Every day.
Yet, when it comes to women, too many politicians become most concerned with depriving them of basic health care and sex education. It was just reported that Elizabeth Smart, another courageous woman who was kidnapped as a teen and held as a sex slave, spoke to a forum on human trafficking. Smart explained the damaging repercussions of abstinence only education and how it can prevent victims from trying to escape:
Smart said she “felt so dirty and so filthy” after she was raped by her captor, and she understands why someone wouldn’t run “because of that alone.”
Smart spoke at a Johns Hopkins human trafficking forum, saying she was raised in a religious household and recalled a school teacher who spoke once about abstinence and compared sex to chewing gum.
“I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, I’m that chewed up piece of gum, nobody re-chews a piece of gum, you throw it away.’ And that’s how easy it is to feel like you know longer have worth, you know longer have value,” Smart said. “Why would it even be worth screaming out? Why would it even make a difference if you are rescued? Your life still has no value.”
Thank God Elizabeth Smart has the courage to speak publicly about what happened to her. Thank God Amanda Berry had the courage to scream yesterday. It’s time for the United States to stop pointing the finger at everyone else and get a clue. Be the leader of the free world that you claim to be. Set an example. Stopping violence against women should be this country’s highest priority.