I would like to thank Ashley Judd for being gracious enough to say a few words about the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA). She was a panelist at “Slavery and Human Rights” earlier this month with journalist and abolitionist, Kevin Bales of Free the Slaves.
The bill was introduced in the House as H.R.4594 by Rep. Bill Delahunt (MA-D) and it is currently co-sponsored by 71 representatives. On the Senate side, S. 2982, has been introduced by Sen. John Kerry (MA-D), and this bill currently has 28 co-sponsors.
Violence against women takes many forms. Rape is often used as a weapon in military conflicts such as the former states of Yugoslavia and in the Congo where the BBC has reported gang rapes are on the rise.
Another form of violence left Manzour, a mother of two from Pakistan, scarred for life after her in-laws threw acid at her causing her chin to fuse to her chest in a report found by the BBC. The video contains disturbing images.
A reporter from The Economist recently reported the visit of Xinran Xue, a Chinese writer, who witnessed a birth in Shandong province and wrote about it in her book, Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother.
Xinran writes, “when we heard a moan of pain from the bedroom next door. . .The cries from the inner room grew louder- and abruptly stopped. There was a low sob, and then a man’s gruff voice said accusingly:’Useless thing!’ The writer saw in horror a tiny foot poking from a slops pail after the baby girl was discarded by the midwife. She tried to save the baby but was restrained by two policeman who told her, ‘Don’t move, you can’t save it, it’s too late.’ An older woman explained the rationale to the writer saying, “It’s a girl baby, and we can’t keep it. Around these parts, you can’t get by without a son. Girl babies don’t count.'”
This is an outrage, but you can do something about it. You can help these women break free by asking your US Senator and US Representative to support IVAWA in an e-mail. Writing personal letters are extremely effective. One state politician revealed that they pay attention to an issue if they receive five letters on the same topic. This is an achievable goal.
IVAWA would lend support to non-government organizations that would develop a strategy unique to the area as they work their way towards preventing violence against women. It could be as simple as funding the education for girls or providing a micro-finance loan that would allow women to be economic independent. Amnesty International’s website offers a range of actions that you can take to support this bill.
During the panel discussion, Ashley Judd talked about finding your outrage. Once you found your outrage, your passion will rise up and empower you to make a difference. My outrage is human trafficking, a problem which has touched my own city, Quincy, where a Chinese brothel was recently discovered.
Activist and historian Howard Zinn, who passed away earlier this year, wrote, “We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.”
Change starts with you. Be the change.