January 14, 2013 — The American public regarded the rape of a young woman in India last month "with a whiff of condescension at the barbarity there, but domestic violence and sex trafficking remain a vast problem across the United States," New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof writes.
Kristof compares the India case with one in Steubenville, Ohio, in which "high school football players are accused of repeatedly raping an unconscious 16-year-old girl." He points out that "people both in Delhi and Steubenville rushed to blame the victim, suggesting that she was at fault for taking a bus or going to a party."
Kristof calls for U.S. leadership to "change the way the world confronts" gender violence, including the tendency to place "the victim on trial." Although Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has done a "superb job" of placing issues related to gender-based violence on the global agenda, "Congress has been pathetic," he writes.
For example, "[n]ot only did [Congress] fail to renew the Violence Against Women Act, but it has also stalled on the global version, the International Violence Against Women Act, which would name and shame foreign countries that tolerate gender violence," Kristof writes, adding, "Congress even failed to renew the landmark legislation against human trafficking, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act."
Modern American history has shown how improving the status of women can lead to substantial declines in rapes and domestic violence, Kristof continues, citing Department of Justice statistics. He concludes, "Let's hope that India makes such violence a national priority. And maybe the rest of the world, especially our backward Congress, will appreciate that the problem isn't just India's but also our own" (Kristof, New York Times, 1/13).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Marya Torrez, associate editor & senior reproductive health policy counsel, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership