Rahim Kanani, a contributor, writer, advocate, strategist, & entrepreneur for global social change, published an excellent article in Forbes Magazine to coincide with National Women’s Day. He interviewed Susan B. Carbon, Director of the United States Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women.
The statistics are more than sobering. They make you sick to your stomach. But there are changes being made. Here’s a sample of this excellent article:
Susan Carbon: Although violent crime has decreased nationwide, the crimes of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking still devastate the lives of too many women, men, youth, and children. Since then-Senator Biden brought national attention to crimes of violence against women in hearings in 1990, we have learned more about their shocking prevalence. One in every four women and one in every seven men have experienced severe physical violence by a current or former spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend. Stalkers victimize approximately 5.2 million women and 1.4 million men each year in the U.S, with domestic violence-related stalking the most common type of stalking and often the most dangerous. One in ten 9th-12th grade students were physically hurt on purpose by a boyfriend or girlfriend in 2009 alone. One in five women and one in 71 men have been raped in their lifetimes, and nearly 1.3 million women in the U.S. are raped every year. The statistics are sobering – even more so with our understanding that these types of crimes are often the most underreported. Many victims suffer in silence without confiding in family and friends, much less reaching out for help from hospitals, rape crisis centers, shelters, or even the police.
Given the continued prevalence of the crimes of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking and the serious ongoing consequences to victims, their children and our communities, the grant programs authorized under VAWA are an investment in our nation’s future. Congress recognized the severity of these serious crimes and our need for a national strategy with the enactment of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in 1994. As a result of this comprehensive legislative package aimed at eradicating violence against women, we have witnessed a paradigm shift in how the issue of violence against women is addressed in the United States, and countless lives have been positively impacted. VAWA has led to significant improvements in the criminal and civil justice systems, encouraging victims to file complaints, improving evidence collection, and increasing access to protection orders.Victims now can reach out for help, call the police, find 24-hour emergency services, and take steps to leave abusive relationships. Domestic violence is no longer considered a private family matter, and is being addressed as a serious public health and criminal justice issue. Stalking is recognized as a dangerous crime, not just something that happens to celebrities. Schools are developing polices to respond to teen dating violence. The prevalence and devastation of sexual assault is finally being recognized. Thousands of women, men, and children have received life-saving services from rape crisis centers and domestic violence shelters. And I’m proud to say we’re engaging men as leaders in ending violence against women. All this adds up. By reducing crimes and the subsequent costs to the criminal justice and health care systems, VAWA has realized cost savings. A 2002 study found that VAWA saved an estimated $12.6 billion in net averted social costs in its first six years alone. Even small investments in VAWA have been shown to make a difference on the ground.