Published on The Daily Femme – Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011
Contributed by Annamarya
Denouncing the practices of female genital mutilation, domestic violence, ‘honor’ killings, acid burnings, dowry deaths, and other gender-based persecutions, expressing the sense of Congress that participation, protection, recognition, and equality of women is crucial to achieving a just, moral and peaceful society, and for other purposes.
Whereas human rights violations against women occur around the world and are not limited to times of war, and have been committed for political gain, personal advantage, ethnic hatred, and in the name of deities and fundamentalist religious zeal;
Whereas in many parts of the world, there is a culture of violence and discrimination which denies women rights equal to those of men and which legitimizes the exploitation of women for personal gratification, political purposes, and financial gain…
That excerpt is from H.J. Res 12, a resolution in Congress introduced by Rep. Shirley Jackson-Lee (D-TX) on January 7 and referred to the House Committee of Foreign Affairs the same day. Illustrating the immediate need for such a resolution, the official text cites multiple statistics on gender-based inequality and violence occurring both nationally and abroad, such as sex trafficking in China, genital mutilation in North Africa, and domestic violence in the United States. In H.J. Res 12, not only does Congress denounce and demand an end to such savage acts, it also avers that “women are not chattel,” and rebukes sex trafficking and exploitation, and gender-based inequality in the academic, economic, political, and social spheres. The resolution calls as well for governments to pass legislation that will criminalize these atrocious practices, prosecute those who commit them, “empower women and girls and afford them equal access to educational, social, and economic opportunities.”
This resolution is clearly an important development so why hasn’t it gotten any press? I have no idea. Why haven’t I read about it until this past Saturday as I was researching the deplorable No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Acton opencongress.org? I also have no idea. Maybe we were all preoccupied that day?
I know certain issues will always overshadow others – it’s the way of the media, the way of the world. But H.J. Res 12 is such an incredible and important piece of legislation that its existence should not have fallen through our cracks. As its text dictates, if H.J. Res 12 passes, it will mean that Congress recognizes and condemns gender-based inequality and violence, with the understanding that a “just, moral, and peaceful society” can only be achieved when women and girls are allowed to equally participate in such a society, and are protected from discrimination. It will also signal that Congress understands and promotes gender equality–that, despite “religion, geography, or form of government, women should not be denied their human rights, and those rights must be defended and enforced when they are abridged, challenged, or violated.” But, most significantly, if H.J. Res 12 makes its way through, it will also mean that President Obama and “fellow donor countries” will work diligently to promote “the rights, health, and empowerment of women in every aspect of their foreign assistance to developing countries, and discourage continued acts of violence against women and the impunity that often accompanies these acts.” It means that our government will finally–FINALLY– take a collective stand against the inequality and violence women and girls face across the globe, and will fight to make sure that we are protected, that we are equal, that we will enjoy the human rights we should have had in the first place.It means that the injustice women and girls face throughout the world will no longer be ignored at the highest level. How could we have ignored this?
To show your support of the bill, along with 92 percent of opencongress.org, go here.