Sexual Violence: Candidates and the Media

Dear Presidential Candidates:

Why aren’t you talking about rape? (Bob Herbert in the NYTimes via Feministing):

The sexual mistreatment of women in the military is widespread. The Defense Department financed a study in 2003 of female veterans seeking health assistance from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Nearly a third of those surveyed said they had been the victim of a rape or attempted rape during their service.

That was in 2003.  You all support the troops, right?  Are you including Rape survivors when you say that?  How will you help?

Of note, only two candidates have a specific issues section dedicated to women.  Hillary Clinton and John Edwards.  Of the two, only Edwards’ mentions violence against women:

Ending Violence Against Women

Achieving full equal rights for women includes the right to be free of violence everywhere. Edwards supports efforts to fully fund the Violence Against Women Act, which provides resources for crisis centers, domestic violence shelters and continuing education to law enforcement and the courts. Edwards will also aggressively support political and economic rights for women where they do not exist and supports efforts to reduce violence against women and children around the world.

To our conglomerated media companies:

Why do you treat cases of Rape, Abuse and Murder as crime thrillers?  (Feministing):

What (shockingly) seems to be missing from the coverage of both of these cases is a discussion of violence against women. In Henry’s case, it’s been difficult to find a lot news coverage at all about her disappearance–wonder why that is. In the coverage of Lauterbach’s murder, we’ve heard nary a word on violence against pregnant women, sexual assault in the military or the silencing of rape survivors.

We have an important opportunity to make problem of gender based violence a top issue now, and one we commit to fight.  To do this we need awareness and we need fighters.  We need the media to step up to their social responsibility and take a clear eyed and hard look at their own reporting, and politicians who are willing to both talk about the issues, and take immediate action.  And both need to keep the other honest.  We need politicians who will take the media to task for their coverage, and news organizations that will bring this up at news conferences and debates.

And candidates, if you’re listening, you don’t need to be elected to start.  Start now.  In the debates, in your campaign stops: make this your fight.

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