While researching women`s right policy on violence against women, it is important to analyze issues of women`s rights and first steps that provoke women to fight for their rights. The goal of this paper is to consider current policy on abuse against women and make a conclusion whether it is bogus or not. The paper aims to find possible arguments to change the policy and support a statement that women have a right to fight for their rights.
The work analyzes laws that was passed on women`s rights throughout the history. Also, it advances an opinion on women`s problems that still exist in the world and possible ways to solve some of them. It researches current laws on violence against women, issues and initiatives that have already been implemented by the American government during last 2 years to improve the quality of women`s lives and protect them from abuse.
Throughout American history women have never been equal to men in all spheres of life. Majority of women were not legally identified; they could not own property, sign contracts, be a part of a jury or vote. Women did not have the possibility to study or make a career apart from men. However, recently women started to fight for their rights and find the way to show intelligence and ability to lead to the full.
The first step to consider a concept that women should have the same rights as men
was made by a famous English philosopher and physician John Locke, who spoke about ideal marriage. He was a liberalist who is considered to be the first man who started to discuss this topic. According to John Locke, marriage should be grounded on love, respect, and friendship but not on the idea that a husband is a sawyer and wife is submissive. All philosophers started to pay more attention to this idea. American Revolution had a great influence on woman`s role in society. Women whose role always was considered as raising children showed patriotism during the revolution and were prepared to scarify their lives for America. In order to accomplish it, a woman should have been highly educated and had more rights. John Locke and American Revolution promoted the importance of a woman`s role. Significant changes happened when people wanted to abolish slavery. Some states supported this idea while some of them were against it. In this movement both males and females took part and one of the leaders of it was Lucretia Mott (DuBois 47). When she and her husband were going to the World`s Anti-Slavery Convention in London, she was not permitted to attend it. That was the time when Mott made up her mind to fight and stand up for women`s rights. The first convention on women`s rights, Seneca Falls, was written by Elizabeth Stanton in 1848 (Wollstonecraft 98). It consisted of 2 declarations that were the Declaration of Sentiments and the Declaration of Independence the aim of which was to call attention to unfair treatment of women and change the attitude to a woman in society giving her more rights than she had had before.
Nowadays more and more people agree that women and men should be equal in all areas of life. Over past decades there were dramatic changes in social life that gave women the possibilities to get education, hold property, vote and many others. Now a woman can completely participate in social and legal life of the country. Starting from 1800 the women`s rights movements worked hard to change women`s status in society. From that time a lot of laws were ratified and one of the most important was the right to vote. For a long time women fought for the possibility to vote and finally it was acknowledged. The first state that granted women with voting rights was Wyoming, and it was also the first state to elect a female governor. This first elected governor was Nellie Tayloe Ross. She served as a female director of the US Mint (Wollstonecraft 36). Next century brought such laws as New York Married Women`s Property Act that gave women a right to control their property and earning. In 1920, the 9th Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified; it says “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex” (DuBois 98). Then the National Women`s Party projected an amendment to the Constitution that make all discriminations on the basis of sex prohibited. It was called Equal Rights Amendment, and it has never been ratified because there were some states that did not agree on it such as Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah and Virginia (Global Legal Resources, “Women`s Rights Law”). Later the US Supreme Court maintained Washington state`s minimum wage law for women and soon the Fair Labor Standards Act established compulsory minimum salary in spite of sex. Some years later the Equal Pay Act was passed maintaining that there would be equitable wages for the same work despite the race, color, religion or sex of a worker. After that the US Supreme Court declares that women are equal to men and can serve on juries. Also Congress outlawed housing discrimination on the basis of sex and credit discrimination against women. Later the Pregnancy Discrimination Act declared the banning of employment discrimination against pregnant women. Next public findings for abortions were denied, and public hospitals were prohibited from performing abortions. The family and medical Leave Act went into effect under which a woman did not need to show that she suffered physically or had a serious psychological injury as a result of sexual harassment. According to the Violence against Women Act victims of rape and domestic violence should have been funded. In the 21st century women got right to sue their attackers in federal court if they became the victim of any kind of violence. The proofs that women became more protected for the last century are obvious.
There are some other problems that should be solved. Women`s salaries are less than men`s ones for the same work, they are promoted more seldom than men and their careers are developing less quickly. Moreover, domestic violence still exists in society, and infant care is quite expensive nowadays. It means that not all women`s problems have been solved and there are some of them feminists should work, though these are problems not only of feminists but also of the government. It should take part in advancing women`s rights and improving the quality of their lives.
The most important document on protection women is Violence against Women Act (VAWA). As it is known, it was ratified in 1994 in the USA. Since that time the bill was reauthorized two times. In 2011 the law expired and it needed the reauthorization. There were a lot of discussions as for the legislation of the bill. House of Republican primarily hopped to pass their version of this bill. It supposed the weakening of protection for some categories. Despite all the obstacles, finally, at the beginning of 2013 the extension of VAWA was passed. According to the survey in 2011 one in four women was severely physically abused by her male partner during the lifetime, and one in five women was raped. The bill is supported by two parties, the Democrats and the Republicans and has 59 additional contributors. A lot of projects such as rape crisis center, temporary housing for people who were abused at home, protection center for disabled people are provided under this bill. Despite the crisis in the country and attempts of the states to slash the budget, these projects are of a great importance for the country and remain without changes. The bill also covers such an important question as violence against immigrant women. The aim of the bill is to strengthen the policy of U-visa. This is a temporary visa that allows people who are considered to be immigrants to stay in the country until the law enforcement will be assisted and the crime will be prosecuted. They could get U-visa only if they are victims of a serious crime. The problem is that recently there have been only 10 000 U-visas available every year and surely it caused a lot of problems as not all immigrants could get it even if they are the victims of a serious crime. According to the new bill 5 000 unused visas from the previous years will be used when the limit of each year is reached (Global Legal Resources, Women`s Rights Law). Moreover, stalking will be considered as a serious crime covered by the U-visa. Usually abusers treated immigrant women that they will be deported and it kept the women to report about abuse. With the help of U-visa women are aware that they will be protected, they can come and ask for help from law enforcement despite their status of an immigrant. Also a great deal of attention is turned to the detention immigration centers in the bill. The victims of violence in detention centers are afraid of speaking out of abuse as they do not know their rights well enough, they feel fear the same authority that is looking for their deportation or they just have serious psychological problems after the abuse.
In addition to Violence against Women Act the Senate had also ratified the Trafficking Victims Protection Act which provides generative health services to the victims of sexual trafficking. Another thing is that same sex couples are also protected under this bill.
Despite of the fact that a lot of things have already been done and the great progress has been made thanks to the Violence against Women Act, still there are a lot of need that should be fulfilled to prevent sexual abuse and violence at home.
Also recently Senate has passed a bill that prohibits abortion after 20 weeks (Global Legal Resources, Women`s Rights Law). Firstly, the bill proposed to criminalize any kind of abortion after 20 weeks under all circumstances; however, lately after long negotiations it was a little bit changed. According to this bill abortion is not considered outlawed if the woman’s health or life is at threat. In order to consider if a pregnancy is medically futile, the fetus should be carefully examined with irreversible set of chromosomes or anomaly that will make the life after birth incompatible. Moreover, the abortion should be done in such a way to emerge a fetus alive. If things did not come round as they were expected, the doctor can be even imprisoned. Surely, there are alck of doctors who agree to make such operations, examinations and perform abortions. To my mind, this bill does not work really efficient, because the mental and emotional condition of a woman is not taken into account. It means that a woman with mental disease will be forced to carry a pregnancy to term. It causes a lot of inconveniences for her and worsen her psychological state. Moreover, because of unwanted pregnancy some women can try to commit suicide. It is odd why the government does not think about consequences of this bill as this particular bill could be harmful for women and society.
It should be mentioned that the United States still doesn’t support the idea of international agreement about women protection from abuses, the Convention on the Elimination of All Form of Discrimination against Women (Global Legal Resources, Women`s Rights Law). It is said that American government is working on it, and this treaty might be ratified soon. For the last 2 years the US government has made a lot for women, for example, pledged money to reduce violence of women in war. It includes $17 million to the Democratic Republic of Congo and $44 million to a National Action Plan. Also the USA has created government agency called U.N. Women that works on the right of the women (Peter Juul, Advancing Women`s Rights is Progressive Foreign Policy). The State Department has also some initiatives to fulfill in the near future. It is planned to organize the Secretary`s International Fund for Women aimed at working with private funds. The State Department
intends to set up the Secretary`s Innovation Award for the Empowerment of women and girls that will work with the most innovative approaches of women`s empowerment. It is evident to establish grants to fund empowerment of women all over the world and organize a global partnership aimed at maternal and child health. The State Department aims at working on programs that will help to make women be involved in business in the Third World countries. It is planned to start a TechWomen program that implies bringing 38 women from undeveloped countries to Silicon Valley to work in technology sector as a part of the mentoring project. Launching the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves that is aimed at making 100 million homes adopted with stoves and fuel by 2020 (Peter Juul, Advancing Women`s Rights is Progressive Foreign Policy).
America has always been the original country of equality. Here women started to stand up for independence and made a lot to protect themselves, they fought for their rights, changed the mentality of society, proved that they were equal to men and must have been the part of social life. American women were a great example of courage and independence for all women around the world. Despite problems that women still meet, American women can be proud of the revolution they made and result that they got. Neither feminists nor government should stop in the process of positive achievements, there must be a constant developing and advancing of women`s rights. Moreover, women from underdeveloped countries should be treated by highly-developed ones. Women should be able to fulfill their potential in society; every woman must have the possibility to choose an appropriate role for her to be a mother or a worker in a community. Women can struggle for the right to feel as a human being, respected and important part of modern society.
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