Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Half a Million Rape Kits Not Tested

FACT:

  • Violence against women occurs within a society which condones male power and control.
  • At least one third of married women will be beaten by a spouse at some point in her marriage.
  • There are at least 2.4 million battered women in America each year.
  • The 1994 Violence Against Women Act was the first piece of federal legislation in the United States designed to address domestic violence.
  • Some examples of violence against women were not punished as crimes until relatively recently (marital rape domestic violence)

***2011: The Year of National Rape Kit Backlog Reform***

1. A rape kit takes usually 4-6 hours

2. It was found that in Illinois in 2010, 80% of rape kits were not tested.

3. It is estimated that 180,000 kits go untested each year–whose potential evidence, which could validate a woman’s claims, identify an attacker or exonerate a suspect, loiters on shelves and in warehouses.

4. Nationwide, crime labs saw their DNA testing backlog double from the beginning to the end of 2005, the most recent year for which data is available, according to a 2008 report by the Census of Publicly Funded Crime Laboratories.

5. It costs between $900 and $1,000 to process and test a rape kit, according to Jeffrey Boschwitz, president of Orchid Cellmark, one of the largest providers of DNA testing.

6. Experts said testing centers would need to increase their staffs by 73 percent to meet demand. Some law enforcement officials said they don’t have the funds or testing infrastructure to meet demand.

7.The federal government helps cities and states foot the bill through grants to local law enforcement agencies through the Debbie Smith Act, but it does not require states to report or enforce efforts to prevent a backlog of rape kit testing.

Some of the funds have also gone unspent, because the law stipulates they cannot be used to hire staff.


8. New York City, which had a 16,000 rape kit testing backlog more than a decade ago, has kept up to date on all completed rape kits, providing results within 30 to 60 days, according to a report from Human Rights Watch, which tracks the problem.

Rape Kit Backlog at LAPD is Eliminated

9. Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y. has proposed a law that would require grant recipients to collect DNA samples from all convicted felons in prisons and meet benchmarks for clearing rape kit backlogs.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., has introduced separate, similar legislation.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa Proposed Bill for Rape Kit Analysis

Illinois on Tuesday became the first state to require the testing of all DNA evidence gathered from reported sex crimes



Rape Kit Testing Backlog Thwarts Justice for Victims–ABC News

Rape Kit Backlog Hits Primetime on SVU–Ms Blog

There has been a lot of controversy lately about what is being done in Congress to change the definition of rape.

As sent to me by the VDAY Campaign:

Right now, federal dollars can’t be used for abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or when the woman’s life is in danger. But the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” a bill introduced by Republican Chris Smith and supported by 173 co-sponsors, contains a provision that would rewrite the rules to limit drastically the definition of rape and incest in these cases. With this legislation, the rape exemption would be limited to “forcible rape.” This would rule out federal assistance for abortions in many rape cases, including instances of statutory rape or coerced rape. This could mean cases where women are drugged or given excessive amounts of alcohol, rapes of women with limited mental capacity, and many date rapes would no longer count as rape.

The redefinition of rape in any context is extremely troubling and could have far reaching effects on the movement to end violence against women and girls for years to come.

First, let’s look at the definition of rape as it stands…This is the state law established for the people of Illinois:

ILLINOIS
A. Statutory Rape—Criminal Offenses
A person is deemed incapable of consent if he or she is under 17 years of age, regardless of the
age of the defendant. 1

Sexual activity with someone under 17 years of age is treated as a misdemeanor if:
· The victim is at least 9 years of age and the defendant is less than 17 years of age; or
· The victim is at least 13 years of age and the defendant is less than 5 years older than the
victim.2
Definition of Offenses
Offense Definition
Criminal sexual abuse:

  • Sexual penetration or sexual conduct with someone at least 9 years of age and less than 17 years of age where the defendant is less than 17 years of age.
  • Sexual penetration or sexual conduct with someone at least 13 years of age and less than 17 years of age where the defendant is less than 5 years older than the victim.

Aggravated criminal sexual abuse:

  • Sexual conduct with someone less than 13 years of age where the defendant is at least 17 years of age.
  • Sexual conduct with someone less than 9 years of age where the defendant is less than 17 years of age.
  • Sexual penetration or sexual conduct with someone at least 13 years of age but less than 17 years of age where the defendant is at least 5 years older than the victim.

Aggravated criminal sexual assault:

  • Sexual penetration with someone less than 9 years of age where the defendant is less than 17 years of age.

Predatory criminal sexual assault of a child:

  • Sexual penetration with someone less than 13 years of age where the defendant is at least 17 years of age.

Sexual penetration is defined as: any contact, however slight, between the sex organ or anus of one person by an object, the sex organ, mouth or anus of another person, or any intrusion, however slight, of any part of the body of one person or of any animal or object into the sex organ or anus of another person, including but not limited to cunnilingus, fellatio or anal penetration. Evidence of emission of semen is not required to prove sexual penetration.

Sexual conduct is defined as: any intentional or knowing touching or fondling by either party, either directly or through clothing, of the sex organs, anus or breast of either party, or any part of the body of a child under 13 years of age, or any transfer or transmission of semen by the defendant upon any part of the clothed or unclothed body of the victim, for the purpose of sexual gratification or arousal of either party.

I’m having a hard time deciding how I feel about this…

I always come to a cross-roads with this issue because I am a huge pro-life advocate as well as a die hard feminist. I have recently been doing a lot of research on domestic violence, dating violence, and rape against women. The facts are astounding; and the stories are even more disturbing. I always advocate for more awareness about these issues to both men and women, and I try as much as possible to help educate the women in my life on the facts and self-defense tactics.

When people talk to me about my pro-life activism and what I fight for, the question always comes up:

“Do you believe a woman should still go through with a full pregnancy of the child, if she was forcibly raped, or drugged, or beaten and raped?”

Right now, I would have to say yes, every person deserves a chance at life on this earth. Yes, it would probably be THE HARDEST experience of the victim’s life, but her child deserves a fighting chance.

At the same time, traditional feminist values advocate for the women’s right to choose. Women should have complete control over their bodies and reproductive rights. And I do agree with these values to a certain degree…

However, with the passing of this law, it would limit federal funding for abortion procedures nationwide. And I say good for you Chris Smith.

Here is a video regarding this legislation. You decide for yourself…


This is such a hard topic to discuss, and most of the time, that’s the problem. No one wants to talk about domestic violence and rape, or people are afraid to speak up, or they decide it’s not their place to say anything.

We need to break the silence, we need to work together and fight to deter these heinous crimes. If you suspect any form of emotional or physical abuse, call someone.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE

The National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE

The National Stalking Resource Center: 1-800-394-2255

The National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline: 1-866-331-9474


Sources:

State Rape Laws as established by the Department of Health and Human Services

Sign the Petition Against Redefining Rape

Speak Up About Domestic Violence: Advocacy to Stop Violence Against Women via VDAY.org

Capitol Hill Abortion Rhetoric Heats Up

GRAYSON  VS. WEBSTER

 

 

 

 

Okay people, as we all know elections are coming up, which means that the campaigns against those who are running are very biased and maybe even extreme. I saw this clip on the news the other night and was completely blown away by this outrageous ad.

This race is between Florida Congressman Alan Grayson (D) and his opponent, former Senator Daniel Webster (R). Grayson approved the ad in which a clip of Webster speaking about his Christian values, dealing with marriage, was butchered to make it seem as though Webster had highly insulting, offensive, and misogynistic views of how a wife should treat her husband. Here is the full clip of which the Grayson campaign got their footage from.

In a news report from Fox News, Beth Sullivan explains, “The ad begins with an announcer saying, ‘Daniel Webster wants to impose his radical fundamentalism on us,’ then cuts to a clip of Webster saying, ‘She should submit to me. That’s in the Bible.'” The ad continues to bash Grayson’s opponent by comparing his religious beliefs to that of the following of the Taliban. Here is the campaign ad that was run by Grayson’s Democratic campaign in Florida earlier last week, but has since been taken off the air for its false credibility.

I am an Independent voter, therefore the reasoning behind my outrage is not simply because I am one-sidedly discriminating everything in this race between Democrats and Republicans. I believe that constituents all across the United States should try to vote for the Representative/Senator who speaks solely on their opinions and plan for action for pressing issues in this country. Running that ad, in my opinion, makes Congressman Grayson look not only like a fool, but most of all, unreliable, and shows enormous false credit. I am not sure how Florida voters are gathering and analyzing their information, but from here it just looks like all Grayson is known for is running a highly controversial ad about his opponent, and nothing else. I’m sure the ad and the media attention it’s received will swing many votes, but it’s a shame that this is what it has come to.

For more information check out:

Target of \”Taliban Dan\” Ad Speaks Out @ http://www.foxnews.com written by Beth Sullivan.

 

Do we want the vanilla iced latte or vanilla bean frappuccino? The new Coach purse or next month’s rent? Heels or flats? Highlights or lowlights? America’s Next Top Model or Project Runway? Single or get married?  Let’s look beyond the shoes, the purses, the jewelry, and the clothes. Look beyond the surface.

The reasons women started a revolution for themselves many decades ago are still true today. However, the extraordinary change and growth we have achieved in a single generation is astounding. In a 2009 study the Rockafeller Foundation did, in collaboration with TIME magazine on the battle of the sexes from the 1970’s to the present, Nancy Gibbs describes not only how far women have come, but also how our wants and needs have changed over the years.

In 1848, when Elizabeth Stanton first spoke up about her discontent with the American government and the limitations being placed on women at that time, including their freedom, thus began the movement where women would fight to no longer look to a man for approval. Women would take matters into their own hands, instead of asking for power, they took it themselves. The movement for social, political, and economic equality for both men and women has seen many changes since then, so where are we now?

Gibbs reported that “it is expected by the end of 2009, for the first time in history the majority of workers in the United States will be women. The growth prospects, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, are in typically female jobs like nursing, retail and customer service. [However], more and more women are the primary breadwinner in their household (almost 40%) or are providing essential income for the family’s bottom line. Their buying power has never been greater- and their choices have seldom been harder.”

The question that is posed and consistently remains the theme of this article is: is the battle of the sexes really over? Other questions raised about this topic include:

How do men now view female power?

How much resentment or confusion or gratitude is there for the forces that have rearranged family life, rewired the economy and reinvented gender roles?

And, what, if anything, does everyone agree needs to happen to make all this work?

Some of us might know the answer, some of us could see part of the answer in reading this article, and yet the rest of us may never find the answer. But the point is that we agree these aren’t just issues we can sweep under the rug. We need to acknowledge that these issues are real and affect men and women each day.

Remember when you were little and you got all dressed up to go over to grandma’s house for the christmas family reunion? Everyone sat around eating cookies and telling stories about how things used to be “back in the day.” Grandma would say things like “take your education seriously, when I was your age I never had the opportunity to go to college” or “we were never allowed to wear those outfits anywhere, at school our uniform skirts were always measured to our knees, and elsewhere we always wore dresses that covered our arms and it was unheard of to show cleavage. Even at church, we wore dresses, stockings, gloves, and always had to have our heads covered with a Sunday hat or a small cloth that looked like a doilie.” For years and years we heard how our grandmothers, our aunts, our mothers, never had the same opportunities that you and I have today. If you’re like me, you always just responded with “yeah, yeah we know, you had to walk 10 miles to school each day, up hill both ways.”

But what was really going on at that time? What changes were women making, if any? Gibbs brings back the history for us in saying,

“At a time when American society was racing through change like a reckless teenager, feminism had sputtered and stalled. Women’s average wages had actually fallen relative to men’s; there were fewer women in the top ranks of civil service (under 2%) than there were four years before. No woman had served in the Cabinet since the Eisenhower Administration; there were no female FBI agents or network-news anchors or Supreme Court Justices. The nation’s campuses were busy hosting a social revolt, yet Harvard’s tenured faculty of 421 included only six women. Headhunters lamented that it was easier to put a man on the moon than a woman in a corner office.”

A lot of people have said, around this same time is when feminism started to die. That, it was no longer “cool” to be a feminist in our American society. The rallies and riots in the streets and the scenes of women on Capitol Hill burning bras were a thing of the past. (Ah! I so wish I could have been a part of that!) Many said, and still say that the Women’s Movement was a joke, that it was just a bunch of angry women who were constantly PMSing for a couple years and wanted everyone to suffer for it. Men and women, including feminists, have said that there is no movement. That a movement means there is progress, that the cause is “going somewhere,” but the women’s movement won’t accomplish anything, it is not and will not go anywhere.

“[Well] that was a cranky exaggeration; many changes were felt more than seen, a shift in hopes and expectations that cracked the foundations of patriarchy. ‘In terms of real power- economic and political- we are still just beginning,’ Gloria Steinem admitted. ‘But the consciousness, the awareness- that will never be the same.'”

 If we’re being honest here, I agree that the awareness of feminism will never be the same as it was in the 1970’s. However, one stereotype we gladly fulfill, is that we will never go silent. Feminism still lives on, and we’re certainly not about to shut up about it! To all those that say feminism died a long time ago, and to those who constantly reep snobish remarks at women who publicly voice their thoughts of feminism- you may silence few individuals, but you will never silence the movement. Furthermore, as history has shown, we have the cold hard facts to shatter the thoughts and words of all those who said WOMEN CAN’T. The truth never lies my friends.

Today 57% of college students are women. In 1972, 43% were.

In 1972, there were 7  female TV-news correspondents at ABC, CBS, and NBC; out of 153. As of 2009, there 95 out of 252.

21—The median age at which a woman got married for the first time in 1972.

26— The median age at which a woman married for the first time today.

39% of all births are to unmarried mothers. 12% were in 1972.

There were 18,000 women who held a membership with the National Organization for Women, in 1972. As of 2009, the memberships have jumped to 500,000.

There are now 3.3 million married couples in which the wife is the sole earner. That’s 2.4 million more than in 1970.

                                1972: 13%                              2008: 23%

             Percentage of children living with a single mother.

 Exactly 89% of women and 89% of men both agree they are comfortable with the woman in the household earning more money than the man.

40% of women say they are the primary breadwinner in their household

More men (60%) than women (50%) are convinced that there are no longer any barriers to women’s advancement in the workplace.

Forty years ago, 1/3 of all workers were women; now nearly half are. 76% of adults view this as positive for society. AND 80% view this as positive for the economy.

29% of men agree that female bosses are harder to work for than male bosses. 46% of women disagreed.

71% of men are more comfortable than their fathers with women working outside the home.

70% say women are less financially dependent on their spouses than their mothers were.

Men have lost the battle of the sexes. 58% of women disagree and 62% of men disagree.

And as a personal side note: To my fellow sisters, feminazis, and all those in between…don’t ever let someone else take power over you to the point where you feel you cannot speak your mind. Everyone has a voice. Including the really pesky misogynists…if they have a valid argument, bring it on. If they just want to piss you off…I really don’t give a f*** is sometimes the most liberating response. Finally, to all those “closet-feminists” who are sometimes afraid to speak up…this is for you. I hope you join the rest of us soon!

Rock on.

http://globalsociology.com/2010/08/04/the-visual-du-jour-the-gay-marriage-debate-in-one-neat-chart/?sms_ss=facebook

What Is Feminism?

Posted: July 30, 2010 in Feminism, Politics, Sisterhood
Tags: ,

In this world, women and men have fought for centuries to understand one another. Our societies and governments will always have issues and will always foster different views of what is valued. However, we are all people above everything else. We all deserve the right to live the life we were given without forcefulness toward action and violence to which there is no choice to deny participation. The act of Female Genital Mutilation is an act in which women of our world have no choice but to be subjected to the trauma of having their own bodies violated. The act of female genital mutilation is a violation of human rights and is discrimination against women. Actively working to bring awareness of this issue and taking steps to end this violation is the highly advocated purpose of this research.

            Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is carrying out a procedure in which health care providers intentionally alter or permanently injure a female’s genital organs. The procedure is always performed on girls between the ages of infancy and fifteen years old. It is estimated that one hundred to one hundred and forty million women and young girls throughout the world are currently living with these devastating consequences and approximately two million undergo FGM each year. In Africa alone, it is estimated that ninety-two million girls from age ten are subjected to FGM. Female Genital Mutilation is classified into four major types of procedures which include clitoridectomy, excision, infibulations and other harmful methods like scraping and cauterizing the female genital area. This practice has been constantly persisted for years in more than twenty-five African countries, parts of Asia and the Middle East, and in numerous African immigrant communities living in industrialized nations. Many international organizations have been at work to research and prevent FGM and “change against FGM has already been underway for more than a century in some areas of the world, a clear challenge to any deterministic view of culture.”

Socio-cultural dynamics and justifications for performing these torturous surgeries are based upon societal tradition, religion, and notions of women’s sexuality. Efforts to promote change in female genital mutilation practices originated in the late nineteenth century, among the indigenous women’s organizations, religious leaders, and missionaries in Africa. Sociological researchers say that when understanding the cultural meaning of FMG, symbolic vitality and social consequences for marriagability were two major ideals.  In other studies, it was found that in several cultures female circumcision is a gender identity marker, “making a woman more fully female by cutting off her ‘male parts.’” Furthermore, examination of these cultures’ thoughts and values on gender identity and femininity point to the main ideals of what being female means and the different meanings of beauty and sensuality. Female Genital Mutilation is believed to make one fully female and fulfill their femininity.

“Femininity ideals are reinforced by aesthetic values. Tissue removal often eliminates what are thought of as masculine parts, or in the case of infibulation achieves smoothness considered beautiful. Where infibulation is the established practice, the uninfibulated state can seem repulsive to women themselves and/or to their sex partners. The infibulated state also is reinforced by symbolic values, such as ‘enclosure’ of body, to be ready for future socially-approved reproduction.”

Cultures that perform mostly infibulation have the main justification that it is an act in preserving a woman’s virginity. Virginity before marriage is a highly respected goal among the people of these countries and especially Muslims. Being a virgin symbolizes that the woman has obeyed the code of Judeo-Christian-Islamic teachings and that her moral strictures are intact. Therefore, these men and women believe that infibulation is necessary and respectable because by creating a barrier to penetration or by reducing sensitivity, this reduces a girl’s interest in sex. With this reputation the woman is also believed to be protecting her morality and preserving her family honor. Although the beliefs of these people and their societies should be respected, we must continue to stress that mutilation practices are aimed at depriving women of their sexuality and that these issues are due to male dominance over these women.

The alarming part of this argument from a scientific and medical perspective is that there are absolutely no health benefits to these women. There is no reason for these surgical procedures other than the traditional beliefs of how women should act, and the women have no choice in the matter. Most importantly, the procedure is extremely painful and traumatic, it is removal of healthy, normal genital tissue, which therefore interferes with natural functioning of the female’s body and it causes several immediate and long term health consequences. These women suffer a wide range of damaging consequences which include: psychological trauma, hemorrhage, HIV infection, complications during child birth and death. Furthermore, “babies born to women who have undergone female genital mutilation suffer a higher rate of neonatal death compared with babies born to women who have not undergone the procedure. In stillbirth or spontaneous abortion and in a further twenty-five percent the newborn has a low birth weight or serious infection, both of which are associated with an increased risk of prenatal death” (W.H.O).

In looking at this practice as a whole, including all the cultural reasoning, it is still an infringement upon human rights. Women’s health and human rights advocates have broadened the debate over female genital mutilation to include considerations of power and women’s subordination- considerations that preclude women and children from knowing and exercising their rights to health, bodily integrity, and freedom from violence. It reinforces inequality and discrimination that has become a united issue paralleled through several countries. These women do not know the severity of the larger issues at hand because they have always been socialized and raised to believe that their place in this world, in their society, is at the expense of a man. More urgent attention should be paid to women’s inequality of opportunity and power, as well as the conditions of war, famine, high rates of disease and infant and child mortality, and lack of educational opportunities. Violence against women in these countries and around the world has become commonplace, murder masked as “honor killings” in the Middle East, human trafficking run like a business between governments, and female genital mutilation masked as a coming-of-age ritual to become a woman; this silent war is outrageous. We must work to create more awareness of these issues and come to an agreement that our brothers and sisters in every country, and every society deserve the same rights that allow them human dignity and preservation of life.

If there has been constant research and studies of this issue for hundreds of years, what is being done right now? How much progress has been made regarding the issue since investigation was started? Since an international women’s rights movement has gained strength in recent years, support for efforts to stop violence against women has made enormous progress. There has been more effort to pressure governments and law-makers to pass protective laws in their countries. “In addition to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations has adopted several conventions aimed specifically at protecting women and children. Last year, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda was set up and for the first time in history legally designated rape as a war crime” (Stencel 356). The conviction that female genital mutilation is a violation of human rights and discrimination has made substantial progress in raising awareness. Research efforts says the main challenge is to determine how to get governmental and nongovernmental organizations to determine how the declaration of human right and human dignity can be agreed upon and applied in the local context of these countries. Community participation, strength and understanding are the basic theories needed to start more severe prevention. Collaboration of governments and world leaders like the United Nations must come to an understanding and theory about how human life is fostered and treated in all communities, because we must keep moving forward from where we are now. Human rights activism and women’s rights movements and awareness have conquered success, but there is much more work that needs to be done.

            All people of the world have different values, thoughts and opinions. We all live within separate societies and our socialization from birth varies from household to household. Yet, the one thing we have in common is that we are women and we are men above everything else. Personhood comes first, and extreme measures must be taken to preserve the rights we all deserve without turmoil, trauma, war or despair. Female Genital Mutilation is but one issue in this world, but that does not mean we can push it aside and wait to get around to it. Once people become aware of this issue they must be obligated to move forward and search for agreements and disagreements to call for awareness and a resolution to stop violence against women, discrimination, subordination, and powerlessness of a person.

How you can help: http://www.amnesty.org/en/appeals-for-action/help-stop-maternal-deaths-africa

Please sign the petition!