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January 8, 2013 at 6:00 AM

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As world mourns India rape victim's death, sexual violence persists in U.S.

By now, many of us have heard the awful story about the 23-year-old Indian medical student who died two weeks after she was brutally gang raped on a public bus in New Delhi.

Over the weekend, The Sunday People interviewed her father, Badri Singh Pandey. He revealed his late daughter's name: Jyoti Singh Pandey.

“My daughter didn’t do anything wrong, she died while protecting herself. I am proud of her. Revealing her name will give courage to other women who have survived these attacks. They will find strength from my daughter.”

On Monday, five of her attackers appeared in court. A sixth suspect will appear in juvenile court because he's a teenager, according to Voice of America.

Something must change in India, where the BBC points out rape is reported every 21 minutes.

Something also must change in the United States, where sexual assault is reported every two minutes.

Here are some harrowing statistics from the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network:

RapeStats.JPG

ICYMI: Last weekend, we editorialized on Congress' failure to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.

For most of 2012, House Republicans balked at the Senate’s attempt to expand protections for Native Americans, illegal immigrants and victims within the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Some have since shifted their support in favor of the latter two groups.

The sticking point remains tribal jurisdiction — whether to allow tribal courts to seek due process when an individual who is not Native American commits domestic and sexual crimes against Native Americans on their land.

Women in this relatively isolated population must face dismal statistics: a one-in-three chance of getting raped in their lifetimes. They are twice as likely to be sexually assaulted compared with the national average. Thirty-nine percent of Native American women suffer domestic abuse.

Such atrocities have occurred within Washington state’s 29 federally recognized tribes. A culture of silence persists. Justice eludes the victims. Prosecution is rare.

How many more women must suffer before we take tangible steps to end sexual violence?

Government can't solve or prevent all our problems, but it must uphold laws that provide due process for victims to seek justice. There is a culture of shame associated with domestic and sexual abuse. It's a private matter. These crimes are often committed by someone close to the victim.

The dialogue surrounding violent behavior is getting extra attention following the tragedy in India. I only hope that conversation continues. Victims should be able to lean on family, friends, or colleagues for help. They should be able to come forward to authorities. We should all look out for signs of abuse, because domestic problems end up having an effect on public safety.

Currently, 97 percent of rapists walk free in the U.S. without ever spending a day in jail. Without any consequences, there's a strong likelihood those perpetrators will continue to victimize others.


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Aren't rape and assault ALREADY illegal everywhere in the US, including on tribal lands... MORE
What does this law do that existing law doesn't already cover? It pumps money into f... MORE
WTH Tran??? "Thirty-nine percent of Native American women suffer domestic abuse... MORE

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