Friday, January 02, 2009

Violence Against Women Surges

A new survey on sexual violence against women in the U.s. from Human Rights Watch shows huge increases over a two year period. (report) These stats show a shocking 42% increase in reported domestic violence and a 25% increase in reports of rape & sexual assault.

The National Crime Victimization Survey, based on projections from a national sample survey, says that at least 248,300 individuals were raped or sexually assaulted in 2007, up from 190,600 in 2005, the last year the survey was conducted. The study surveyed 73,600 individuals in 41,500 households. Among all violent crimes, domestic violence, rape, and sexual assault showed the largest increases. Except for simple assault, which increased by 3 percent, the incidence of every other crime surveyed decreased."

"The projected number of violent crimes committed by intimate partners against women increased from 389,100 in 2005 to 554,260 in the 2007 report. By comparison, the number of violent crimes against men by intimate partners went down."

The methodology was modified in 2007 due to criticism from experts & this may reflect more accuratcy rather than an increase. But then again, they may reflect an actual increase. Irregardless, the numbers reflect government under-reporting.

"The new numbers indicate that previously, the government significantly underestimated the number of individuals affected by domestic and sexual violence in this country," said Tofte [researcher]. "Authorities should urgently adjust public policies, law enforcement, and provision of support services accordingly."

Human Rights Watch's national recommendations include:

1. The Obama administration should appoint a special adviser on violence against women in the US
2. Congress should restore full funding to the Office on Violence Against Women
3. The Department of Justice, through the National Institute of Justice, should authorize comprehensive studies that more accurately track sexual and domestic violence in the US, especially among individuals who are least likely to be surveyed by the National Crime Victimization Survey
4. Congress should increase funding for sexual and domestic violence prevention, intervention, and treatment programs
5. Congress should amend the federal Debbie Smith Act, a grant program designed to eliminate the rape kit backlog, but that states can and have used for other kinds of DNA backlogs
6. The US should ratify the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which obligates states to prevent, protect against, and punish violence against women.

Maybe we could have an Anti-Violence Against Women Surge? Just a thought.

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