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Tuesday, March 08, 2011

International Women's Day

International Women's Day (8 March) is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. In some places like China, Russia, Vietnam and Bulgaria, International Women's Day is a national holiday.

The first International Women's Day was celebrated in Copenhagen on March 19, 1911. There are observations and celebrations all around the globe.

The Episcopal Women's Caucus, which I am privileged to serve as Convener, is observing this day with a letter to the Presiding Officers of The Episcopal Church, calling attention to the Culture of Rape in our country, in our military and in the world, and asking them, as two women in leadership in our church, "make a strong statement to our church, country and yes, the world, which decries the culture of violence and disrespect of women in this country that results in the staggering statistics about rape; the use of rape of women and girls as a weapon against a people during war; and the continued abuse of victims through legislation".

I hope those of you who read this blog will join us in this effort. Please consider sending your own letter to our Presiding Officers, encouraging them to use the privilege of their status to influence the President, the Bishop Suffragan of the Armed Forces, and the Executive Council to elevate their concern for the status of women in this country and around the world.

The press release and letter appears below.
Episcopal Women's Caucus
MEDIA RELEASE

Contact: Elizabeth Kaeton
Episcopal Women’s Caucus Convener
motherkaeton@gmail.com
973 464 8018 (cell)

Episcopal Women’s Caucus marks 100th International Women’s Day with Plea to Church Leaders to Stand Against Gender Violence
The Episcopal Women’s Caucus is deeply concerned about the rise of sexism, misogyny, and violence toward women, manifested in the form of rape not only in our own society and military, but also as it is used against women and children as a tactic of war in other countries, the Caucus board told Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and President of the House of Deputies Bonnie Anderson, in a letter yesterday.

The Caucus Board called on Jefferts Schori and Anderson to bring these concerns to the next meeting of the Executive Council and to the Bishop Suffragan for Federal Ministries.

“It is our hope that the Executive Council would use its voice for the Episcopal Church to contact the President and those who hold governmental authority, calling on them to end the culture of rape in our military, create a climate of safety and equality for women who serve our country, and to speak out against the constant erosion of rights for all women. We would hope that the voice of Executive Council would take the form of a resolution at General Convention 2012,” the letter from the board said.

The Caucus board sent their letter to coincide with the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day on March 8 because, while women have achieved much, there is still much to do to end violence against women in the many forms it takes.

Some examples:
+ 1 out of every 6 American women have been the victims of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.

+ 1 in 3 women report having been sexually violated while serving in the military – a number the Pentagon admits is probably 20 percent of the number that actually occur.

+ Female recruits are now far more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed in combat.

+ A bill currently in the House of Representatives, ostensibly aimed at reducing federal funding for abortion, seeks to do so by limiting funding to cases of “forcible rape,” (which leads one to ask, “When is rape non-forcible”?)

+ The House of Representatives vote to end federal support for Planned Parenthood, an organization that each year provides more than 800,000 women with breast exams, more than 4 million Americans with testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, and 2.5 million people with contraception.
“There is no ‘we’ and ‘they’ as far as violence against women is concerned. We are all sisters to each other, regardless of where we are born, how we are raised, how we look, what we do, or how young or old we are,” the letter stated.

“We ask that together you make a strong statement to our church, country and, yes, the world, which decries the culture of violence and disrespect of women in this country that results in the staggering statistics about rape; the use of rape of women and girls as a weapon against a people during war; and the continued abuse of victims through legislation,” the Caucus urged Jefferts Schori and Anderson.

The Episcopal Women’s Caucus (www.episcopalwomenscaucus.org) is a justice organization that has been advocating for women since 1971, spiritually, theologically, politically
.
A full copy of the letter follows.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
and
Ms. Bonnie Anderson
The Episcopal Church Center
815 Second Avenue,
New York, New York

Dear Bishop Jefferts Schori and President Anderson;

The Episcopal Women's Caucus is deeply concerned about the rise of sexism, misogyny, and violence toward women, manifested in the form of rape not only in our own society and military, but also as it is used against women and children as a tactic of war in other countries.

Statistics reported by RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) include these gruesome facts:
● 1 out of every 6 American women have been the victims of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime (14.8% completed rape; 2.8% attempted rape).

● 17.7 million American women have been victims of attempted or completed rape.

● Approximately 73% of all rape victims know their assailants.

● In cases of juvenile sexual assault, 93% of the victims know their attacker.
A recently released Pentagon report indicates that rape of women in the U.S. military increased 11% in 2009, according to a Department of Defense statistic, with one in three women reporting having been sexually violated while serving in the military. Shockingly, the Pentagon itself admits that reported incidents probably represent just 20 percent of those that actually occur. Female recruits are now far more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed in combat.

We are painfully aware of the use of rape as a weapon against people where civil war in other countries persists. But we, as many around the world, were stunned by the beating and sexual assault on Lara Logan, CBS news correspondent in Tahir Square in Egypt. There is no 'we' and 'they' as far as violence against women is concerned. We are all sisters to each other, regardless of where we are born, how we are raised, how we look, what we do, or how young or old we are.

In addition, there is currently a bill in the House of Representatives, ostensibly, aimed at reducing federal funding for abortion but seeking to do so by limiting funding to cases of "forcible rape". This leads one to ask, "When is rape non-forcible"? A state legislator in Georgia wants to change the legal term for victims of rape, stalking, and domestic violence to "accuser." But victims of other less gendered crimes, like burglary, would remain "victims."

In a further affront to women and girls, the House of Representatives recently voted to cut funding to Planned Parenthood, on the argument that taxpayer money should not go to organizations that provide abortion services, regardless of what else they might do. This would mean the end of federal support for an organization that each year provides more than 800,000 women with breast exams, more than 4 million Americans with testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, and 2.5 million people with contraception.

We call on you both, as women of faith and leaders in our church, to join us in speaking out. We hope that you will bring these concerns to the next meeting of the Executive Council and to the Bishop Suffragan for the Armed Forces. It is our hope that the Executive Council would use its voice for the Episcopal Church to contact the President and those who hold governmental authority, calling on them to end the culture of rape in our military, create a climate of safety and equality for women who serve our country, and to speak out against the constant erosion of rights for all women. We would hope that the voice of Executive Council would take the form of a resolution at General Convention 2012.

We ask that together you make a strong statement to our church, country and yes, the world, which decries the culture of violence and disrespect of women in this country that results in the staggering statistics about rape; the use of rape of women and girls as a weapon against a people during war; and the continued abuse of victims through legislation.

We thank you in advance for working with us to bring these issues to the attention of our government, military leaders, legislators, and church councils, as we, as an organization, continue to raise awareness in the church about the status of women and advocate for change in our world so that all might live into God's Shalom of wholeness and well-being.

Your Sisters in Christ Jesus,

The Board of the Episcopal Women's Caucus

Convenor, Elizabeth M. Kaeton ; Secretary, Ann Van Dervoort; Treasurer, Barbara Mann, Ruach Editor, Karen D. Bota; Board Members, Susan N. Blue, Gigi Davis Conner, Susan Longo Cowperthwaite, Babs M. Meairs and Margo McMahon

2 comments:

Hermano David | Brother Dah • veed said...

There is statutory rape.

In my experience usually two kids having consensual sex, one slightly under the age of majority and the other slightly over. They may have even started when they were both minors. Ordinarily it would not come to the purview of the law, but if it results in a pregnancy and the girl is the minor, then the girl's parents may get on their high horse and press charges against the boy, often against their daughter's protests.

I think that the proposed law would not provide funds for services in this form of "rape."

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Yes, there is statutory rape and no the proposed law would not provide funds for this form of rape.