It’s about Violence (and injustice)
As the Unitarian Universalist organization whose mission it is to promote equity for women and girls, we keep a vigilant eye on the many issues impacting what is now commonly called reproductive justice. Conceptualized by a powerful group of women of color in 1994, reproductive justice is defined as the complete physical, mental, spiritual, political, social and economic well-being of women and girls, based on the full achievement of and protection of women’s human rights. As another blogger this past week observed, the slaying of unarmed black men – with no consequence—is a reproductive justice issue, as mothers and would be mothers justifiably fear for the health and safety of their male children. How chilling a prospect.
The Grand Jury decisions in Ferguson, Missouri and New York City exonerating police officers in the shooting deaths of two African American men: one a teenage son of a bereaved mother, the other a husband and father, were horrifying acts of injustice against the women in their lives.
Repeated over and over again, this pattern of unpunished racial violence is as much a concern for the Unitarian Universalist Women’s Federation as any other work we do.
As these events unfolded, and the understandably angry aftermath, the trajectory of sexual violence against women and girls, one out of three over a lifetime, continued: also aided by the systemic protection of their abusers. In our military (with a higher percentage of women of color in the ranks) and on our college campuses, molestation and rape takes place largely unreported. Those women who courageously self-report are more often than not subject to verbal attack, and in the armed forces downgrades in rank.
Recent well-documented (and written) articles in Rolling Stone Magazine and the New York Times have chronicled the stories of violation and retribution within these institutions. And the parallel extent to which ranks are closed in order to shield reputations and the status quo.
The through line, as is being widely stated, is not that our American system of justice needs to be fixed, rather that it has never existed for so many of us. Whether racism or misogyny, (or homophobia), the blood on the streets of a suburb near Saint Louis or a street corner in Staten Island; the stained sheets on a fraternity house bed in Charlottesville, Virginia and the penetration pain from a molestation on an Air Force base in Kuwait are not new, not rare, and not yet seen as the reprehensible crimes they all are.