Though many believe violence against women to primarily be a problem in other parts of the world, the situation for many women in the U.S. is still problematic.
The Washington Post’s recent article, “For Women in America Equality is Still An Illusion” brought to light some chilling statistics, not simply because it detailed daily inequalities and atrocities born by and committed against women, but also because the horror stories described are taking place in our own neighborhoods. It discussed the rape, murder, poverty, and bias endured by women in the United States, as opposed to the far off lands with which we tend to associate such crimes— it charged us as sufferers of “mass delusion.”
And it’s true: as a working woman in America my focus rarely falls to my own backyard. Short of commentaries such as these, which remind us that “women are shot dead in the street here too,” the plight of women in this country has been given over to a few diligent national women’s groups and concealed behind the glitz of pop culture. It is a movement that has been outsourced to developing countries and branded as the problem of cultures that are not ours. In fact, we are almost required to believe our own hype in order to sell it, for how can we purport to set an example for women’s equality and human rights in other countries if we haven’t achieved it ourselves?
Statistics such as these leave us with a clear message:
More than 1,000 women were killed by their partners in 2005, and of all the women murdered in the United States, about a third are killed by a husband or boyfriend. A leading cause of death for pregnant women? Murder by a partner. In Iraq, women serving in the military are more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire.
The rights, safety, and freedom of women is a movement that decisively needs to expand inward and globalized, not simply exported. And perhaps, casting away our “illusions” and openly recognizing our own struggles can spark a collective movement to advance the situation of women everywhere.
Anusha Alikhan is a communications professional with over five years of experience working in external and internal communications in a variety of areas including international development, women's rights, health, technology, law, and media. Anusha specializes in creating innovative online and print publications and developing integrated marketing campaigns designed for diverse audiences. She has a law degree and a Master's in Journalism.