violence against women
Like a lot of my preacher friends, I typically read nonfiction, theology, and fiction classics. So, it was a little different for me to delve into the world of hot-off-the-press page-turners. I did it for a year. This is what I learned.
Beverly Donofrio had just been “looking for a monastery to join, for Christ’s sake.” She had closed her laptop, having bookmarked religious communities she might write to, then had fallen into a deep sleep. During the night she was raped at knife point in her home in Mexico.
Matt Yglesias is right that public policy must deal with the broad abstractions of the common good, not just with issues that affect lawmakers personally. And Anne Thériault is certainly right that a woman's value, dignity and rights are not contingent on who cares about her personally. Still, both posts seem too dismissive of the role personal relationships play in our formation, our view of the world, our very personhood.
President Obama earlier this afternoon: Indian Country has some of the highest rates of domestic abuse in America. And one of the reasons is that when Native American women are abused on tribal lands by an attacker who is not Native American, the attacker is immune from prosecution by tribal courts. Well, as soon as I sign this bill that ends.
If you haven’t realized the urgent need for an expanded Violence Against Women Act, read today’s New York Times, where novelist Louise Erdrich restates the theme that runs through her powerful novel The Round House (reviewed in a previous post): Native American women are being battered and raped by non-native men, and they have no legal support for pursuing justice—because non-natives are immune from prosecution by tribal courts.
What does it take to replace a culture that tolerates violence against women with one that insists on respect? According to Breakthrough, an organization based in the U.S. and India, a key element is enlisting men to actively enforce nonviolent, respectful norms. A couple years ago, the group's Bell Bajao (Hindi for "Ring the Bell") project produced some amazing PSA videos in India.
It's hard to imagine a more efficient way to rack up diverse denunciations than Rep. Todd Akin's approach in an interview on Sunday, when in one breath he both promoted a foul bit of junk science alleging that rape victims don't generally get pregnant (and thus don't need abortion services) and coined the term "legitimate rape." Pretty much everyone everywhere has condemned his comments, and rightly so. A number of rape victims have written responses, including Shauna Prewitt, whose post at xoJane went viral and taught a lot of us something appalling that we didn't know.
It is difficult to know what to say in response to Mona Eltahawy’s explosive article on the experience of women in Middle Eastern countries. She writes about a level of institutionalized brutality that demands that readers pay attention. At the same time, she doesn’t say anything new, nothing that wasn’t already made too vividly clear during the Arab Spring.