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article imageOp-Ed: Women and Children Under Siege

By Donald Quinn     Feb 5, 2014 in Politics
The women and children of America are under siege. Domestic violence, sexual assault, child trafficking and pornography are virulent epidemics. This is not a position piece on Roe v. Wade - it is a call to action against this war on our women and children
I find myself struggling for words as I am writing this Op-Ed, not something that is frequently a problem. Perhaps it is the sensitive nature of what I am about to write, or perhaps it is the deep personal connection that I feel with the issue that is causing some of my writers block. Maybe it is good that I am struggling; it shows a connection and highlights why I am running for public office.
This morning, a friend of ours, told a very compelling story on Facebook. It was the first time that she has publicly told her story, and I could not help but applaud her courage as she finally stood up and declared herself to not be a victim. Perhaps her story is a good place to start –
Tina, who asked that her real name not be used for fear that she could get sued, was abused as a child. From ages 8 through 14 she was the victim of a merciless predator that victimized her in every way while calling himself “dad”. When she finally gained the courage to speak out she was called a liar, her mother was accused of making up the story, and then she was re-victimized by the court system that cares more about its precedents, rules, and procedures than it does about the victims of sexual crimes and abuse. Years of counselors, psychologists, doctors, and lawyers, all trying to prove that she was a liar followed, yet she stuck to her story and anyone who knows her knows there is little doubt that she spoke nothing but the truth. The man who abused his kids was found not wanting on the scales of justice and lives free and happy with his new life and new family, while the children he terrorized have struggles to piece together their own version of happiness.
Her story is not unique, nor did I go into details since that is for Tina to share or not. Dylan Farrow was one of the few victims that told her story of abuse at the hands of; her then step father, Woody Allen. Allen has been lauded as one of the greatest film makers in the world and honors have been showered upon him but the words of a young child were discredited and discarded because it stood in the way of the making of an icon. In so doing our society tossed the victim aside in its effort suck up to the alleged perpetrator.
These are just two stories of the dozens I have heard. While serving in the Army, I was responsible for breaking up one of the most sadistic and vile sexual exploitation rings. Non-commissioned officers and other male soldiers were torturing and sexually abusing female soldiers at whim, while everybody else looked the other way. Only the direct intervention by my Chaplain with my assistance, who were newly deployed to the area, resulted in a change for these young women. I could not look the other way then, and I cannot look the other way now.
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The FBI Innocence Lost Initiative Banner
By many statistics, 1 in 5 women will be raped during the course of their lifetime, in America today, 20 percent. It is a horrifying statistic when you look around the room and see your friends, your family, and your loved ones. But it gets even scarier. According to most experts, these are just the reported incidents, and there are those that believe the incidents of sexual abuse could be as high as 60 percent when you include sexual violence by a significant other and account for the unreported incidents. These estimates place 3 out of every 5 American women as victims of sexual abuse. If possible, it gets even worst when you realize that 31 states allow a rapist to sue for custody of a child created during the rape. Now look around the room again and ask yourself if we are truly doing enough.
According to the research, 42.2 percent of female rape victims were raped before they were 18, 29.9 percent were between the ages of 11 and 17 while 12.3 percent were under the age of 10. Unfortunately, 60 percent of rapes will go unreported, and only 3 out of every 100 rapists will serve time in jail for completing this horrific crime. As early as 2001 studies and reports indicated that over 20 percent of teenage girls have faced sexual or physical violence during a dating relationship. Teenagers!
Domestic violence is the leading cause for injury among women between the ages of 15 and 44. In America, today, that means that a woman is more likely to be injured in a domestic violence incident than she is in an automobile accident, a mugging, or a rape combined. Estimates put the number of Americans affected by domestic violence at 32 million each year, the vast majority of whom are women.
Then there’s the next statistic, Maryland’s Physician’s Campaign against Family Violence reports that in households with adult domestic violence, between 45 – 50 percent also have incidents of child abuse. At least 32 million families are affected in the United States, and at least half of those have occurrences of child abuse.
Studies in Maryland show that there are no differences between races when it comes to violence against women. Of the 17,615 Maryland domestic violence incidents reported in 2012, 9,072 victims were white while 8,102 victims were black. Keeping in mind that these are the reported cases, many victims simply live through it and never tell their stories.
As the dust was settling, and victory parades were being held for the Super Bowl winners, authorities swooped in and rescued 16 juveniles that had been forced into prostitution in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. The children were aged 13 to 17, and at least some of the teens had been reported missing by their families. In addition to the children, 50 women who had been forced into prostitution were also rescued. The authorities are not even scratching the surface.
According to The Polaris Project, sex and human trafficking is at least a $34 Billion a year industry which dwarfs most other criminal enterprises. Revenues from sex trafficking were estimated by the Washington Times report to be $87 Million every day. According to the same report “no class and no child is immune” to what is now the second largest criminal industry in the world. According to a 2006 Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) intelligence report, there are an estimated 18,000 people trafficked in the United States every year. The report goes on to describe how victims are procured -
“Sometimes by force, but usually by fraud. Victims are lured away from family and friends by the promise of a better life”
The victims are not just the girls (and boys) who are lured away from their friends and family and then sold. Child abuse, of all stripes, is a virulent and ugly problem in America. According to Child Help USA, there is a report of child abuse made every 10 seconds. Every year there are 3 million reports of child abuse, involving over 6 million children. 46 states report over 3.3 million interventions by Child Protective Services with more than 15 percent of those suffering physical abuse and just under 10 percent suffering sexual abuse according to the National Children’s Alliance.
There is an epidemic sweeping across this nation. The violence against women and the victimization of children is growing in our streets and before our very eyes. A $34 Billion enterprise that victimizes our daughters, wives, mothers, and sisters has been allowed to take root and flourish on our soil while we have been busy fighting about freedom of choice, arguing about what constitutes women’s rights, and have a government that is debating reducing sentences for those who simply “view” child pornography.
The debate around abortion is a legitimate one and must be addressed, however, women’s rights are not a single issue, and as much as we would like to focus all of our attention on Roe v. Wade there is a much uglier 800 pound gorilla in the room. It is a gorilla that has made the mall an unsafe place for our women and children, has made social media sites the ultimate hunting ground, and has me questioning the safety and sanctity of our very homes.
As I continue my campaign, one that is built with the idealistic dream of restoring America (Starting right here in Maryland) to days when we were a society with a conscious and were the land of opportunity, another campaign is starting itself. This one is to stand up for the victims in our society, especially women and children. This fight is for girls like Nicole, who was repeatedly raped at age 10, by her father on camera, and became a “legend” to perverts everywhere that downloaded the images and videos her father uploaded. Millions of women, like Nicole, live with the horror of abuse. Harsher sentences, legislation that makes it clear we will not tolerate any of this, and giving law enforcement the tools they need to combat these growing challenges is just the first step. This fight for decency, this fight for children's and women’s rights is far too great to be swept aside in the wake of any one single issue.
I am sure that I will be asked, and I will answer, my position and personal opinion about abortion, but what I, for one, refuse to define “women’s rights” within the context of a single issue. Not when Goliath is standing in our living room and defying us to do anything about it.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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