Our guest blogger is Julie Ajinkya, Policy Analyst for Progress 2050 Action at the Center for American Progress Action Fund
Protesters in India are demanding justice for the 23-year-old medical student who ultimately died as the result of a brutal gang-rape in the nation’s capital on December 16 by calling for a nationwide shutdown today. The savage attack immediately sparked mass protests across the country, with thousands of Indians pouring out onto the streets, continuing to demand that the government take swift action not only against the perpetrators, but also to make the country safer for women in general.
Protestors have said that political leaders would not be allowed to take part in the bandh, lest the public outrage become exploited for political gain. It remains to be seen whether Indian politicians will take the public cry for better protection of women’s rights seriously.
Here at home, some of our political leaders have decided to speak up in the fight to end violence against women — except, in the case of the House GOP, they’re on the wrong side of that fight. On Tuesday night, House Majority Leader Eric Canter actually killed the legislation that has done a huge amount to help victims of such violence. This is first time since its original passage in 1994 that the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has not been reauthorized, despite a long history of bipartisan support.
Why did this important piece of legislation die? Because some congressional Republicans opposed extending protections to three groups: Native American, undocumented, and LGBT victims of violence. If you thought that we had reached the point where sexual assault was finally considered an assault on humanity, no matter whom it involved, you were wrong — according to the House GOP.
The war on women is not over, folks. In fact, while we celebrate the gender gap that helped re-elect the President, the record number of women ushered into the Senate, and the host of restrictive laws against reproductive rights that were defeated, we cannot overlook the battles that persist to turn our country back in time.