By Christopher Bryson
For too long, domestic violence was considered a family issue and was left for families to address in private” proclaimed President Biden in September. In reality it is a public issue: 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men have experienced physical violence, sexual violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
Biden’s proclamation brings with it a proposed budget to accompany his American Rescue Plan, with $450 million set aside for domestic violence and sexual assault service providers. Funds would be allocated to assist survivors of these crimes, with an additional $550 million to help fund women’s shelters and $1 billion more for grant programs overseen by the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women.
According to Valerie Hudson of Texas A&M University, this shift in awareness is also of benefit to America’s overall stability as a nation. In collaboration with researchers from Brigham Young University, Hudson collated data from the United Nations Human Development Index and its measurements of a country’s average lifespan, health levels, and educational bench- marks. The team then rated 176 countries on a scale of “patrilineal/fraternal syndrome” with a rating scale from 0 to 16 using elements such as violence towards women, attitudes towards such violence, and the unequal treatment of women. The higher a nation’s rating, the lower its Index measurements. The United States rates a 2 on the scale.
The more a society tolerates the devaluation of women with sexist ideologies and patriarchal (male-dominated) cultural practices, the more fragile it becomes. A prime example can be found by examining the cultures of the Middle Eastern nations of Saudi Arabia, India, Iraq, and Afghanistan; and African countries like Nigeria, Somalia, and South Sudan. These nations rate above 12 on the scale of sexism and abuse of women. Recent laws such as the abortion ban in Texas and high-profile cases of men in power abusing women are examples of America’s devaluing of women in an attempt to control their bodies.
The Biden administration is looking next to pass its Violence Against Women Act to address these issues in our culture. Proposals are just the beginning in a long-overdue shift in the nation’s consciousness, though, just a small first step toward an equitable future for women.
Originally published by the Mule Creek Post