Lenten Reflection on the Women Weeping on the Via Dolorosa
Jesus turning to them said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never gave suck!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’; and to the hills, ‘Cover us’. For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
–Luke 23: 28-31
Who were the women who wept? Why did they weep? Perhaps they realized how unjust this execution was. Jesus connected his execution with all injustice that women face and how there may come a time when it gets even worse. We have to face how bad it is to begin to think about how to make it better and take action.
An online survey launched in January 2018 by a nonprofit called Stop Street Harassment, found that 81 percent of women and 43 percent of men had experienced some form of sexual harassment during their lifetime.
Those numbers are much larger than suggested by other polls. Those polls used a more limited sample or narrower definitions of harassment, says Anita Raj, director of the Center on Gender Equity and Health at the University of California, San Diego, who analyzed the results of the survey. The survey also involved a broader definition of sexual harassment that includes the “continuum of experiences” that women face, she says. The results, released in a report Wednesday, show that 77 percent of women had experienced verbal sexual harassment, and 51 percent had been sexually touched without their permission. About 41 percent said they had been sexually harassed online, and 27 percent said they had survived sexual assault.
See: A New Survey Finds 81 Percent Of Women Have Experienced Sexual Harassment : The Two-Way : NPR
In the U.S., 43.6% of women (nearly 52.2 million) experienced some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime (Figure 1image icon), with 4.7% of women experiencing this violence in the 12 months preceding the survey (Table 1).
Approximately 1 in 5 (21.3% or an estimated 25.5 million) women in the U.S. reported completed or attempted rape at some point in their lifetime.About 13.5% of women experienced completed forced penetration, 6.3% experienced attempted forced penetration, and 11.0% experienced completed alcohol/drug-facilitated penetration at some point in their lifetime.
In the U.S., 1.2% of women (approximately 1.5 million) reported completed or attempted rape in the 12 months preceding the survey.
Approximately 1.2% of women (nearly 1.4 million) have been made to penetrate someone else in their lifetime.
Approximately 1 in 6 women (16.0% or an estimated 19.2 million women) experienced sexual coercion (e.g., being worn down by someone who repeatedly asked for sex, sexual pressure due to someone using their influence or authority) at some point in their lifetime.
More than a third of women (37.0% or approximately 44.3 million women) reported unwanted sexual contact (e.g., groping) in their lifetime.
See: 2015 NISVS Data Brief|Violence Prevention|Injury Center|CDC
National Human Trafficking Hotline statistics show a 25 percent jump in human trafficking cases from 2017 to 2018. This includes sex and labor trafficking. Of the more than 23,500 runaways reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in 2018, 1 in 7 were likely victims of child sex trafficking.
See: Child Trafficking in the U.S. | UNICEF USA
An estimated 40.3 million people were victims of modern slavery in 2016, forced to work against their will under threat or who were living in a forced marriage that they had not agreed to.
Of these 40.3 million victims: ▪ 24.9 million people were in forced labour. That is, they were being forced to work under threat or coercion as domestic workers, on construction sites, in clandestine factories, on farms and fishing boats, in other sectors, and in the sex industry. They were forced to work by private individuals and groups or by state authorities. In many cases, the products they made and the services they provided ended up in seemingly legitimate commercial channels. Forced labourers produced some of the food we eat and the clothes we wear, and they have cleaned the buildings in which many of us live or work. ▪ 15.4 million people were living in a forced marriage to which they had not consented. That is, they were enduring a situation that involved having lost their sexual autonomy and often involved providing labour under the guise of “marriage”. Women and girls are disproportionately affected by modern slavery, accounting for 28.7 million, or 71 per cent of the overall total. More precisely, women and girls represent 99 per cent of victims of forced labour in the commercial sex industry and 58 per cent in other sectors, 40 per cent of victims of forced labour imposed by state authorities, and 84 per cent of victims of forced marriages. One in four victims of modern slavery were children. Some 37 per cent (5.7 million) of those forced to marry were children. Children represented 18 per cent of those subjected to forced labour exploitation and 7 per cent of people forced to work by state authorities. Children who were in commercial sexual exploitation (where the victim is a child, there is no requirement of force) represented 21 per cent of total victims in this category of abuse.
See: wcms_575479.pdf (ilo.org)
On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.
See: Statistics (ncadv.org)
Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats, economic, and emotional/psychological abuse.
See: domestic_violence-2020080709350855.pdf (speakcdn.com):
It’s not enough that abortion is legal in your state. If you are working multiple jobs to pay household bills, how can you afford to take the time off to visit a clinic and make use of their abortion services?
Anti-abortion laws essentially penalize low-income women and women of color and prevent them from accessing safe abortion care. We also need to support policies that ensure unrestricted access to contraceptive services.
See: Reproductive Justice: What It Means and Why It Matters (Now, More Than Ever) | Public Health Post
Reproductive justice goes beyond the pro-choice narrative by acknowledging the fact that there are intersecting factors such as race and class that impact marginalized groups of women differently, and that this means not every woman has the freedom to choose what she wants to do with her pregnancy when her options are limited by oppressive circumstances or lack of access to services. Reproductive justice focuses on abortion access rather than abortion rights, asserting that the legal right to abortion is meaningless for women who cannot access it due to the cost, the distance to the nearest provider, or other obstacles.
In addition to abortion access, the reproductive justice framework also includes other issues affecting the reproductive lives of women and trans people of color, including access to: contraception, comprehensive sex education, prevention and care for sexually transmitted infections, alternative birth options, adequate prenatal and pregnancy care, domestic violence assistance, adequate wages to support families, and safe homes. Reproductive justice is based on the international human rights framework, which views reproductive rights as human rights.
See: Reproductive justice – Wikipedia:
COVID-19 has hit all working women hard, but low-wage women workers the hardest. In a survey from May and June, one out of four women who became unemployed during the pandemic reported the job loss was due to a lack of childcare, twice the rate of men surveyed. A more recent survey shows the losses have not slowed down: between February and August mothers of children 12 years old and younger lost 2.2 million jobs compared to 870,000 jobs lost among fathers.
See: Why has COVID-19 been especially harmful for working women? (brookings.edu)
In the news:
On International Women’s Day, Biden Signs Gender Equity Measures : NPR
Evangelical disillusionment is finding a home in book clubs (religionnews.com)
Senior Policy Operating Group Public Awareness and Outreach Committee Guide For Public Awareness Materials (non-binding) – United States Department of State
About Human Trafficking – United States Department of State
Me Too movement – Wikipedia
me too. Movement (metoomvmt.org)
For details on these and other movies, see: GOODBYE STIGMA MOVIES | Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest, Inc.
Family Domestic Violence Services & The Washbourne House provide support and advocacy to domestic violence survivors. The Washbourne House is a 17-bed domestic violence facility where residents receive individual and group support-counseling, case management, parenting and children’s services, advocacy and extensive referrals. Non Residential Services include short-term individual domestic violence crisis counseling, case management, safety planning for yourself and your children, and support groups. Food pantry, educational programs, and a Family Court advocate offer assistance.
Family Domestic Violence Services is just one of the many programs provided by Family of Woodstock, including a local office in New Paltz.
For more details, wishlist items, and dropoff information, see: Donation Wishlists | Family of Woodstock (familyofwoodstockinc.org)
Gender equality is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, building good governance, and promoting sustainable development. Everyone deserves an equal opportunity to succeed. Gender inequality in the workplace has plagued the global economy for many decades; if it is not addressed by integrating women as an integral part of the workforce in general, it loses out on the skills, ideas, improved decision-making, and perspectives that are essential to address the global issues and to harness new scopes and opportunities.
There are countless resources available to help you recognize issues and consider ways to address them. Here are just a few:
6 Ways to Promote Gender Equality at Workplace (invensislearning.com):
15 Issues Women Still Face in the Workplace (careeraddict.com)
Six ways to fix gender inequality at work | World Economic Forum (weforum.org)
Eight ways you can help women’s rights (theconversation.com):
Today and every day every woman, man and child can contribute to gender justice in eight simple ways as shared by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, also known as UN Women:
1. Raise your voice
Voice amplifies, directs and changes the conversation. Don’t sit silent in meetings or conversations with friends when you have something to contribute to the conversation.
2. Support one another
Recognize inherent dignity in oneself and all other human beings through acceptance of identities different from one’s own.
3. Share the workload
Share the responsibility of creating safe environments for vulnerability to be freely expressed.
4. Get involved
Acknowledge that your actions are crucial to the creation of fairness and accountability. Identify your commitments. Speak about them, and act on them.
5. Educate the next generation
Listen actively and seek understanding. Share experience and knowledge to grow wisdom.
6. Know your rights
Human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights. At their most basic, human rights concern reciprocity in human relationships that extend to all humanity and beyond.
7. Join the online conversation
Human beings express their identities and their aspirations through what they say. Join the IWD Conversation #TimeIsNow and #IWD2018. Social media amplifies women’s voices and emboldens their collective agency.
8. Give to the cause
It takes time and effort for the gender equality conversation to reach everyone. Consider giving to the cause by donating money or time.
Signs of Hope…
Thomas said, “Unless I put my finger where the nails were … I will not believe.” Later, though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them … and said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands… Stop doubting and believe.”
–John 20: 24-29
Sometimes it seems impossible for Women’s Rights to become a reality but progress, if not success is happening. It’s important to believe change is possible:
Human Trafficking – In 2000, the United Nations launched the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, which established a victim-centered approach to trafficking. It has since been signed by 177 countries.
Women’s Employment – Since 2019, 27 economies have improved women’s economic inclusion across all areas and amended laws to improve gender equality.
Reproductive justice – Today, groups driving policy include reproductive justice in their analysis of the impact of climate change. The roadmap is available: The Guttmacher-Lancet Commission report puts forward a global vision for advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Sexual Harassment – The 2019 International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention on Violence and Harassment at Work—which 439 out of 476 governments, employers, and workers from around the world voted to adopt in June at the United Nations in Geneva—sets out key measures to tackle the scourge of harassment at work.
Domestic Violence – Campaigns against Domestic Violence around the world have a meaningful impact. Whether it is “Look At Me” in Britain, Serbia’s One Day in a Year campaign or the pots and pans peer pressure in Africa, community resistance to abuse of women can work.
Special thanks to Ann Craig for researching this social justice issue
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