At Equality Now, we know that discriminatory laws don’t reverse themselves and that change is not possible unless we all work together. Giving Tuesday is this week, and we want to do our part to ensure that more resources are devoted to helping make equality a reality for women and girls around the world.
Below are six reasons why you, your family, and your friends should consider contributing to feminist causes during the year-end giving season.
1. Bad laws around the world legitimize the idea that crimes against women and girls aren’t crimes at all.
Across the world, some countries still allow rapists to escape criminal punishment if they marry their victims. In Thailand, marriage can be a settlement for statutory rape if the perpetrator is over 18 and the victim is between 13 and 15 years old and she is said to “consent”. In Russia, if a perpetrator is 18 or older and his victim is below 16 he can marry her to escape prosecution.
Meanwhile, as detailed in our report Failure to Protect, the Federal Criminal Code of the United States includes a marital exception for statutory rape of a minor between the age of 12-16 who is married to her perpetrator.
Our team of legal experts works around the world to hold governments accountable for protecting women and girls from sexual violence, pushing for the reform of sexual violence laws.
2. The United States still doesn’t guarantee equal rights for women and girls in its constitution — and still hasn’t ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
Constitutional equality is crucial to helping achieve equality for women and girls. In the United States, activists and women’s rights groups, including Equality Now, have worked for decades to urge Congress and now, the U.S. Senate, to pass the Equal Rights Amendment to ensure women are protected from discrimination in the country’s foremost legal document. It
That’s not the only area where the United States has come up short when it comes to assuring women’s equality. The Convention on the Elimination on All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is the leading international convention to protect the rights of women and girls and just six U.N. member states — Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Palau, Tonga, and the United States — have failed to ratify it.
We’re committed to ending sex discrimination in laws, and ensuring instead that laws around the world protect women and girls from violence and discrimination.
3. Sexual violence survivors around the world continue to face significant barriers to accessing justice.
Across South Asia, as in other regions, gaps in rape laws effectively deny justice to sexual violence survivors, including limited definitions of sexual violence and discriminatory or overly burdensome evidence requirements, as well as delays in police investigations.
Since the release of our 2017 report, The World’s Shame: The Global Rape Epidemic, we’ve continued to analyze gaps in laws regionally and engaged in international and regional mechanisms to hold governments accountable.
4. We need law enforcement that takes a victim-centered approach.
Law enforcement plays a pivotal role in ensuring that crimes are prosecuted and laws are enforced. But law enforcement officers also play a major role in a survivor’s experience of the justice system and in ensuring that other survivors feel safe and empowered to come forward with their stories.
Often the professionals that survivors come into contact with bring their own biases and stereotypes, perpetuating discrimination and victim-blaming attitudes. Adolescent girls, women with disabilities, and women from marginalized communities, including LGBTQ+ people, often face intersecting discrimination when attempting to access justice.
We know all too well the damaging effect poorly trained law enforcement, social workers, and other professionals can have in helping to secure justice for survivors of sexual violence. That’s why, as well as changing laws, we also work to improve their implementation.
In 2021, in partnership with the Council of Europe, UN Women, Ministry of Interior, and General Prosecutor’s Office, we launched a manual, intended for practical application by law enforcement officials in Georgia, as well as training modules. After completing this training, investigators and prosecutors are granted a specialization on the topic of sexual violence.
By the end of 2021, this training will have been delivered to over 370 criminal police officers and prosecutors in Georgia, building their capacities in handling sexual violence cases.
5. Tackling sexual violence takes significant resources and people need to work together.
There is no one thing that will end sexual violence. It’s on all of us. We need feminist laws, victim-centered law enforcement, and compassionate communities.
We can all commit to tackling the culture of silence that surrounds sexual violence in our homes and communities, actively challenging gender stereotypes and victim-blaming attitudes, and truly listening to survivors when they speak out about their experiences.
And we can all hold our governments accountable too. They need to commit not only to reforming laws, but also to dedicating significant resources to fully enforcing gender-based violence laws and policies, investing in gender-based violence prevention, and supporting a multisectoral approach to tackling sexual and gender-based violence.
6. Only 1.6% of all US charitable giving supports women and girls organizations, and more resources are needed to protect women and girls’ rights.
Every dollar in the fight for equality counts, and that’s why we’re excited to announce that now your dollar will count twice as much! InMaat Foundation has generously offered to match $100,000 worth of gifts from now until the end of 2021. Doubling your gift is doubling your impact, and its impact is unlimited.
When you change the law it changes everything. Make a gift to Equality Now today.