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Support The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)

STEP 1. Read Our Op-ed 

STEP 2. Sign the Petition, Call or Email Your Senators to Pass CEDAW for Women's Rights

Impacts of IPV

Overall, intimate partner violence (IPV) has a grand impact on the populations in the United States (U.S.) financially, physically, mentally/emotionally, sexually, and spiritually. However, when examined from a lens of intersectionality, women, specifically black women, in addition to the layer of sexuality of their identities (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or gender expansive), queer and/or questioning, intersex, asexual, and two-spirited (LGBTQIA2S+), comprehensively experience the worst consequences because of the problem. The total researched economic cost within a lifetime includes emergency services to serve survivors, court fees, legal proceedings within the criminal justice system, workplace productivity declines, and other systems associated with all the moments that account for $3.6 trillion annually. Over a survivor or victim’s lifetime, IPV costs $23,414 for men and $103,767 for women (CDC, 2022). When there are higher levels of unemployment, women can experience additional financial strain compounded with intimate partner violence perpetrated by their intimate partner; nevertheless, women with employment overwhelmingly experience financial control by their intimate partner. This often leaves them at a disadvantage as they must weigh being economically stable, having a home with their own form of "safety" (within the confines of their abusive partner-dominated relationship), sacrificing the wellbeing of their own children in the long term, possibly protecting them in the short term from their abuser, versus risking their safety even further by leaving their abuser without a solid exit plan or community coordinated response, lessening their opportunities for relocation, and causing them  to remain in the cycle of revictimization until something changes. According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), financial abuse happens in 99% of domestic violence cases (NNEDV, 2017). Intimate partner violence is a crucial contributor to housing instability and homelessness for women. According to the data, 57 percent of unhoused women in the U.S. reported that domestic violence (DV) is the main cause of losing their home in America’s most populated state (California), and more than 50 percent of unhoused women are survivors of domestic violence (Paskin, 2021). This comes as no surprise given that much of the nation's influence, money, and power are known to remain in California, the state with the highest GDP production, where Hollywood is a staple part of America's "Wild West" culture.

Intimate partner violence, by my accumulated eclectic definition, can also be stalking, verbal, sexual, physical, mental, spiritual, or emotional abuse within the context of a relationship with a current or previous partner, in addition to the financial abuse revealed above.  About one-third of women and one-quarter of men in the U.S. experience intimate partner violence (IPV). More than 40% of black women experience physical violence from an intimate partner at some point in their lives, while the rates are lower for white women, Latinas, and Asian/Pacific Islander women (Green, 2020).Violence from an intimate partner can have long-term and short-term effects on women's health, and it can also have negative effects on their children. Examples of the physical, mental, emotional, and sexual health consequences:

Have fatal consequences such as homicide or suicide.Lead to injuries, with 42% of women who experience intimate partner violence reporting an injury as a consequence of this violence (3). Lead to unintended pregnancies, induced abortions, gynaecological problems, and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. WHO's 2013 study on the health burden associated with violence against women found that women who had been physically or sexually abused were 1.5 times more likely to have a sexually transmitted infection and, in some regions, HIV, compared to women who had not experienced partner violence. They are also twice as likely to have an abortion (3). Intimate partner violence in pregnancy also increases the likelihood of miscarriage, stillbirth, pre-term delivery and low birth weight babies. The same 2013 study showed that women who experienced intimate partner violence were 16% more likely to suffer a miscarriage and 41% more likely to have a pre-term birth (3). These forms of violence can lead to depression, post-traumatic stress and other anxiety disorders, sleep difficulties, eating disorders, and suicide attempts. The 2013 analysis found that women who have experienced intimate partner violence were almost twice as likely to experience depression and problem drinking. Health effects can also include headaches, pain syndromes (back pain, abdominal pain, chronic pelvic pain) gastrointestinal disorders, limited mobility and poor overall health. Sexual violence, particularly during childhood, can lead to increased smoking, substance use, and risky sexual behaviors. It is also associated with perpetration of violence (for males) and being a victim of violence (for females). (WHO, 2021)

 

Mental illnesses like PTSD, anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts can be caused by physical trauma, as can addiction caused by self-healing attempts that are bad ways to deal with problems like neurological disorders, miscarriages, stillbirths, cancer, high blood pressure, and heart diseases. It also costs the victimized woman socially as well, as she must adjust to finding a safe place and breaking free from the grasp of her perpetrator. Physical trauma from IPV does not only cause mental illness (PTSD, anxiety, depression, addiction, suicidal ideation), but also neurological disorders, miscarriages, stillbirths, cancer, hypertension, and cardiovascular diseases, which expose women to elements of vulnerability that leave them at risk for being homeless. A California Policy Lab report that analyzed the national HUD data in 2019 reported that 80 percent of unsheltered, unaccompanied youth blamed "trauma" for leading to their homelessness (California Policy Lab, 2020). The psychological abuse intersects with the idea of marriage being a sacred covenant that "must be saved at all costs". Most of America is Christian, and many women of faith who are in dangerous relationships with violent men feel trapped not only by their abuser but also by their very beliefs regarding divorcement, creating more nuances of accepting the "status quo," which also could unfairly lead to furthering the "victim blaming" culture against women’s human rights (Miles, 2002).

Causes of IPV

My research shows that IPV is a major health concern around the world because it violates human rights and is a part of our culture and way of life. In the past, lawmakers, families, stakeholders, the criminal justice system, the government, families, and others didn't put enough value on transparency when trying to stop or decriminalize violence against women that is caused by toxic misogyny and is mostly done by men. This is especially true in the power dynamics of elite status members of society, who have more control over the risk of committing the acts than being fairly judged by the law for their learned behavior. The first sign that IPV against women is caused by the patriarchal social order of the past, which shows a big power difference between men and women.Some of the most democratic nations, such as Germany, Australia, and the UK, have all had women in the highest forms of government, yet there has never been a female president of the United States (Schmeichel et al., 2016). On March 31, 1776, the Founding Father of the United States, John Adams, and the first lady, Abigail Adams, advocated for women to the Continental Congress in writing:

I am glad to hear that you have declared independence. And, by the way, in the new code of laws, which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention are not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation. (Allen, 2016)

Even though women's rights have improved a lot since the late 1700s and Vice President Kamala Harris was elected in 2021, tyrannical behavior is still making women's lives hard in 2023. Proof of this is witnessed primarily with the male based Supreme Court judges of 2022 overturning Roe v. Wade just five years after the 2017 "Me Too" movement gained widespread attention. Similarly, to the outcry of women who revolted against violence against women, this type of policy change removed the choice for women to have control over their bodies, sending a message to Americans that history can repeat itself: first lady Abigail Adams would not be happy with the husbands of this time era. Although the decision was ultimately left for the States to decide, the mechanism of this policy being overturned furthers intimate partner violence in our society as a public health crisis to their wellbeing and an act of violence that exposes them to more marginalization. There is far more risk involved in IPV when a woman is pregnant; 15 percent of women who experienced a history of relationship violence and sought out care at a family clinic had experienced birth control sabotage, and 20 percent survived pregnancy coercion (Committee on Health Care for Underserved Women, 2022). Also, a study by Diana Green Foster and her colleagues at the University of San Francisco, found that banning abortion increases maternal mortality, or pregnancy related death. Also, overturning Roe v. Wade leaves women stuck in domestic violence situations, causing revictimization, and survivors are more likely to stay in poverty, which would consequently put them at risk of homelessness (Q&A with Elizabeth Mosley, 2022). Even though the John and Abigail Adams family did not support slavery, historically women were still treated as property in the U.S. Human rights pioneer and previous enslaved worker, Sojourner Truth, gave the famous 1851 speech "Ain’t I a Woman?" at the Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio she reverently spoke:

Ain't I a Woman?" speech at the Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio. "And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man—when I could get it—and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne 13 children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman? (Library of Congress, 2017)

 

Women are not being treated equally, and lack of equity causes Intimate partner violence is the result of dominant discourses of unchecked power and control. Sojourners Truths’ message is the same as today for women being treated as property, paid less economically, and having to fight against the dominant discourses of hegemonic power weaponized by men. Compared to pay for White men, women earned about $.82 for every dollar a man earned, Black women made about $.63, and Hispanic or Latina women earned about $.58 for every dollar earned by White men, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO, 2022). Today we see this best globally with the eight-time WNBA All-Star, two-time Olympic gold medalist basketball player Brittany Grinner having left the United States to play for Russia because of the historical gender pay gap in the United States. Then we examine her having been used as a bargaining tool (as their property) by Russia in times of pre-World War 3 cold war tactics to gain back their arms dealer (Snyder, 2022).  As significant as she is socially, Ironically, the Black, Lesbian, and adult woman’s intersectional identities were used against her by Russia, which deployed the same tactics used by the United States government with the 13th amendment, transferring prisoners to prisons where they work for cents on the dollar or for free, in what Russia calls "labor camps" for crimes, in which the U.S. exercises legality using a broken justice system to imprison Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) populations, using the "war on drugs" as a cover to legally institute systematic racism. In Griner’s case before she successfully returned to the United States, at an airport she was found with possession of marijuana, which also has been used to stigmatize, imprison, and persecute black people in addition to control women’s bodies by means of their sexual choices, particularly white women that favored black men, by spreading devilish propaganda about the plant in connection to black people via media such as the film "Reefer Madness!" (Tikkanen, 2019). The same resolution that was meant to set slaves free was signed into law by Abraham Lincoln as the 13th Amendment. This legalizes slavery if it is used as a form of punishment for crimes, leveraging mass incarceration and privatization of prisons at the expense of the black community and creating a new system of slavery (Kruesi, 2022). This system of male dominance has not only been divisive to our class systems but has socially constructed toxic dynamics in which treating people as property has been normalized as a power structure that has seeped into our culture, creating caste distinctions in power based on money, race, influence, gender, sexuality, religion, education, ethnicity, and politics that translate to abuses of power passed down for generations that teach the youth violent behaviors that mostly inflict women due to their place in society. Therefore, regardless of economic status, anyone can experience intimate partner violence, but not everyone can become homeless due to IPV, and those populations with the greatest disparities are most at risk of becoming homeless or losing their lives. For instance, Black women and girls in the U.S. are four times more likely to die by violence than white or Hispanic women, while indigenous women and girls face the next highest risk, at 5.8 homicides per 100,000 people, opposed to 8.0 homicides per 100,000 people (Kruesi, 2022). The highlight of this data in Kruesi’s article is that most American women have been killed by someone they know (an intimate partner, friend, or family member), furthering the assertion that culturally, America has been indoctrinated into violence, especially against individuals that have been socially marginalized of their value as humans. Another finding from the previous data is that there is a law enforcement data gap that shows half of those murders have been committed by perpetrators with an "unknown" relationship to their killer, which leads me to extrapolate that either law enforcement is not performing their job at high enough standards, or they purposefully have abandoned justice for certain marginalized members of society. Globally, the U.N. found that on average, a woman or girl is killed by someone in her own family or intimate partner every 11 minutes (in the year 2020, 47,000 women and girls were killed by IPV), so this type of violence is not only pervasive in American culture, but worldwide, this type of abusive power composition places women at risk in disproportionate numbers within the confines of intimate partner violence situations (Dunaiski et al., 2021).

 

Leading Interventions of IPV

Policy reform is an essential intervention for preventing gender-based violence by intimate partners. Even though the United States appears to have lost its progressiveness after overturning Roe v. Wade, there have been multiple accomplishments in policy change, which is one of the leading interventions towards preventing IPV and protecting women. President Joe Biden signed the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act of 2022, increased funding for domestic violence and sexual assault services through the American Rescue Plan (ARP), reformed the military justice system to address sexual assault, harassment, and related crimes, ended forced arbitration for sexual assault and harassment by signing the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021, directed the Department of Justice to investigate sexual assault and harassment, and directed the Department of Justice to investigate sexual assault and harassment The White House's initiatives to eradicate gender-based violence from the very top of the power structure will help to alleviate the negative effects of intimate partner violence and prevent many women from becoming victims of abuse again, becoming homeless, or, worst of all, dying. Along with policy reform that advocates for victims and survivors of IPV, we need the execution of the law to uphold these measures, followed up with decisive prosecution of perpetrators by law enforcement. For example, protection orders such as restraining orders statistically reduce occurrences and recurrences of IPV after the partners are isolated from one another, although threat management strategies with poor enforcement (by police and courts) may undermine the tactics considerably, as well as police brutality resulting in black women being fearful to use such services (Saladino & Branco, 2019). The same goes for immigrant women, who fear being criminalized and deported due to mistreatment by the police. If the law does not deter these crimes, domestic violence services provided by agencies such as the National Domestic Violence Hotline, Asian and Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence, Battered Women’s Justice Project (BWJP), FaithTrust Institute, and more can offer technical assistance to our communities for preventing IPV as well as serving survivors. Shelters also help as a temporary place for women to stay, preventing violence, although they can be strenuous places for a woman due to a lack of holistic resources and do not offer permanent housing to sustain their isolating "safety exit" out of their situation, distancing them from their abusive partner. Evidence-based practice interventions that center around community coordinated responses such as: relationship skills strengthening; transforming attitudes, beliefs, and norms; child and adolescent abuse prevention; environmental safety (aimed at public schools, public places, and workplaces), social services provided to survivors (including legal, health, police, and social agencies); and empowering women socially and economically to reduce poverty (Dunaiski et al., 2021). The primary gender equality legislation missing from America is called the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The only countries that have not ratified the treaty along with the United States are Tonga, Somalia, Sudan, Iran, Nauru, and Palau. Findings suggest that CEDAW improves women's rights systematically and socially (especially if it is more democratic). Not only does the treaty give Americans a voice globally for women's rights, but it also holds the United States (U.S.) systematically accountable to the injustices in their system by the U.N. (Cho, 2014). The inclusion of the U.S. in CEDAW would make America great again by fostering beliefs in human rights backed by actions that follow, obligating the U.S. to uphold political, educational, health, employment, legal, social, economic, reproductive, childcare, and family rights. There are 189 members (of the 193 countries) in the UN that have ratified the treaty with fair reasons to help their countries advocate with the consensus to achieve egalitarianism in the form of gender equity. CEDAW transcends political gridlock and self-interest-based policy and prioritizes human rights by following a comprehensive framework based upon protecting, fostering, and realizing women's human rights as empowerment for all.

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References 

Cho, S.-Y. (2014, September). International Women’s Convention, democracy, and gender equality. International Women’s Convention, Democracy, and Gender Equality. Retrieved March 19, 2023, from https://www.jstor.org/stable/26612190 

Allen, E. (2016, March 31). Remember the ladies. Remember the Ladies | Library of Congress Blog. Retrieved February 1, 2023, from https://blogs.loc.gov/loc/2016/03/remember-the-ladies/  

California Policy Lab, H. U. D. (2020). Supporting unaccompanied women experiencing homelessness - los angeles.

 

SUPPORTING UNACCOMPANIED WOMEN EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS. Retrieved February 1, 2023, from https://clkrep.lacity.org/onlinedocs/2020/20-1425_misc_8-24-21.pdf  

CDC, .G. (2022, October 11). Fast facts: Preventing intimate partner violence |violence prevention|injury Center|CDC. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/intimatepartnerviolence/fastfact.html  

 

Cho, S.-Y. (2014, September). International Women’s Convention, democracy, and gender equality. International Women’s Convention, Democracy, and Gender Equality. Retrieved March 19, 2023, from https://www.jstor.org/stable/26612190 

 

Committee on Health Care for Underserved Women, A. C. O. G.  (2022). Intimate partner violence. Intimate Partner Violence. Retrieved February 2, 2023, from https://www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/committee-opinion/articles/2012/02/intimate-partner-violence  

Dunaiski, M., & Filip, A.-M. (2021). United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Killings of women and girls by their intimate partner or other family members Global estimates 2020. Retrieved February 2, 2023, from https://www.unodc.org/documents/data-and-analysis/statistics/crime/UN_BriefFem_251121.pdf  

GAO, U. S. G. A. (2022). Women in the workforce: The gender pay gap is greater for certain racial and ethnic groups and varies by education level. Women in the Workforce: The Gender Pay Gap Is Greater for Certain Racial and Ethnic Groups and Varies by Education Level | U.S. GAO. Retrieved February 1, 2023, from https://www.gao.gov/products/gao-23-106041#:~:text=Overall%2C%20women%20earned%20about%20%24.,every%20dollar%20White%20men%20earned  

Green, S. (2020, August 20). Violence against black women – many types, far-reaching effects. IWPR. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from https://iwpr.org/iwpr-issues/race-ethnicity-gender-and-economy/violence-against-black-women-many-types-far-reaching-effects/  

Kruesi, K. (2022, June 30). The killings of black women: Five findings from our investigation. The Guardian. Retrieved February 2, 2023, from https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/jun/30/black-women-murder-rate-data-stats-study  

Kruesi, K. (2022, October 20). 5 states to decide on closing slavery loopholes in voter referendums. PBS. Retrieved February 1, 2023, from https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/five-states-to-decide-on-closing-slavery-loopholes-in-voter-referendums#:~:text=The%20effort%20is%20part%20of,of%20labor%20by%20convicted%20felons.  

Library of Congress, N. P. S. (2017). Sojourner truth: Ain't I A woman? (U.S. National Park Service). National Parks Service. Retrieved February 1, 2023, from https://www.nps.gov/articles/sojourner-truth.htm  

Miles, A. (2002). Chapter 2, Page 63. In Violence in families: What every Christian needs to know (pp. 62–63). essay, Augsburg Books.  

NNEDV, N. N. E. D. V. (2017). Learn more about financial abuse. NNEDV. Retrieved February 1, 2023, from https://nnedv.org/content/about-financial-abuse/

 

Paskin, J. (2021, June 29). How domestic violence became the no. 1 cause of homelessness for women in La. LAist. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from https://laist.com/news/housing-homelessness/how-domestic-violence-became-the-no-1-cause-of-homelessness-for-women-in-los-angeles  

Q&A with Elizabeth Mosley, P. D. ’18. (2022, June 28). Consequences of roe v. wade being overturned are infinite, says Michigan Public Health Alumna: News: University of Michigan School of Public Health: Roe v. Wade: Abortion: Reproductive Rights: Phd: Health Behavior and Health Education: Health inequities: Health equity: Health care disparities: Social justice: Marginalized populations: Social Determinants of Health: Dobbs V. Jackson: US Supreme Court. Consequences of Roe v. Wade being overturned are infinite, says Michigan Public Health alumna | News | University of Michigan School of Public Health | Roe v. Wade | Abortion | Reproductive rights | PhD | Health Behavior and Health Education | Health Inequities | Health Equity | Health Care Disparities | Social Justice | Marginalized Populations | Social Determinants of Health | Dobbs v. Jackson | US Supreme Court. Retrieved February 2, 2023, from https://sph.umich.edu/news/2022posts/consequences-of-roe-v-wade-being-overturned-are-infinite-says-alumna.html  

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Snyder, D. (2022, December 14). Brittney Griner, the WNBA and the NBA pay disparity, explained. TheGrio. Retrieved February 2, 2023, from https://thegrio.com/2022/12/14/brittney-griner-the-wnba-and-the-nba-pay-disparity-explained/  

Tikkanen, A. (2019). Why is marijuana illegal in the U.S.? Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved February 1, 2023, from https://www.britannica.com/story/why-is-marijuana-illegal-in-the-us  

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