Tag Archives: Women’s Rights

Channeling Moral Outrage Into Action To End Domestic Violence

If you’ve turned on the television or even glanced at a newspaper over the past several weeks, you’ve likely seen coverage of Ray Rice, the Baltimore Ravens running back who punched his then-fiancée Janay in an elevator. The renewed conversation about Rice’s actions and about the NFL’s reaction is a disheartening, if timely introduction to Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which we observe in October to boost anti-violence efforts and to draw critical attention to a problem far too often swept under the rug.

With greater public attention being paid to incidences of sexual violence and violence against women – in the NFL and on college campuses are two examples that come to mind first – what can we learn about how our culture at large understands domestic violence? It echoes  : domestic violence was a personal, private matter between spouses rather than an issue of national concern for gender equality and fundamental respect for all people. Beginning the 1980s, advocates against domestic violence were able to bring the issue to national attention for the first time, initiating cultural shift that eventually brought about passage of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which for the first time made domestic and sexual violence a crime under federal law.

VAWA built upon and brought about profound progress in the effort to eliminate violence against women. But we have a long way to go toward preventing domestic violence and toward understanding its complexities while it persists. When Janay Palmer married Ray Rice even after he hit her, her decision prompted critics to ask why a person would ever choose to stay with her abuser rather than to end the relationship. But that inquiry, asked far too commonly of survivors of violence, masks the complex realities of intimate partner violence. Abuse often extends beyond physical or sexual abuse to include a web of tactics, including economic abuse and emotional manipulation, that contribute to a person’s choice not to leave.

The question “Why didn’t she leave?” is simplistic, and it reflects a broader cultural belief that places the burden of ending a violent situation on the abused rather than on the abuser. Leaving an abusive relationship is not always an option, nor is it always a desired end. A victim of domestic violence need not leave in order for the abuse to stop; rather, the responsibility is the abuser’s to abandon abusive tactics in favor of respectful behavior.

Jewish values shape our firm belief that relationship abuse in all its forms—physical, emotional, economic—is a moral abhorrence. Maimonides teaches in Mishneh Torah that “a man should honor his wife more than he honors himself, and love her as he loves himself. And if he has money, he should increase her benefits according to his wealth. He should not intimidate her too much; he should speak with her gently, and should be neither saddened nor angry” (Sefer Nashim 15:19). Rather, our tradition compels us to build relationships on mutual respect, sharing and communication, not on power and control.

Throughout the month of October on RACblog, we’ll be discussing issues related to Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Click here to find the latest updates and to see what you can do to help prevent domestic violence. To start, urge your Members of Congress to support the International Violence Against Women Act (H.R. 3571/S. 2307), which provides concrete tools to prevent violence against women and girls worldwide.

Yes on Question 4 in Massachusetts; earned sick time now

Double Booked: No One Should Have to Choose Between A Healthy Family and A Job

In this season of renewal, Jews reflect on the year past and look forward to a 5775, a year that brings new opportunity. Since the launch of Double Booked this past January, we have identified some of the challenges that working families face today and discussed a wide variety of cultural, social, and policy solutions. The Jewish new year seems a fitting time to reveal the next phase of our Double Booked initiative, which will focus on working with our interfaith partners to lift up good internal employment policies as well as to engage our denominations and houses of worship in federal, state, and local initiatives to pass much-needed policies to support the modern American family.

One such policy is ensuring paid sick days. We are proud to report that the Union for Reform Judaism (which the RAC is part of) offers its employees a generous paid sick days policy. The Union demonstrated its strong support again for these policies in a new resolution that was passed at our 2013 Biennial.

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medical symbol, stethoscope, white lab coat

Abortion Access: A Matter of Individual Rights and Health Care

On Sunday, September 28 we commemorated the Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion, encouraging individuals, organizations and governments to take steps to ensure women’s health care access around the world.

Despite seemingly constant attacks on women’s reproductive rights in the United States, the alarming reality is that our laws allow safe and legal access compared to those of other countries around the world. In 138 countries, restrictions on abortion extend beyond the methods by which a woman may fund her procedure, with governments regulating the reasons for which a woman is or is not allowed to terminate her pregnancy. In its annual survey of abortion restrictions across the globe, the Center for Reproductive Rights categorizes these restrictions in three ways: Read more…

Stop Violence Against Women

“Women’s Issues” Are Everybody’s Issues: Preventing Sexual Assault is On All of Us

Tomorrow, President Obama and Vice President Biden will announce a new campaign to prevent sexual assault on college campuses. Entitled “It’s On Us,” the campaign will emphasize that it is the responsibility of every person in a community to help prevent sexual violence. Drawing on a recent report from the National Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault, the campaign strives in particular to engage male students, harnessing their potential to help prevent sexual assault by shifting peer behavior and, accordingly, community norms. Read more…

Defend Women's Reproductive Rights

Pursuing Choice in the States: Updates on Restrictive Texas Law

More than a year after Wendy Davis took to the floor of the Texas State Senate for her famous filibuster in defense of abortion rights, the debate in Texas over a woman’s right to access abortion care is still not settled. On Friday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments over whether to uphold a district court ruling to strike down a provision of the infamous Texas bill that would require all clinics to become licensed as surgical centers or to close their doors to women seeking care. Representing a federal district court in Austin, Judge Lee Yeakel, who sought to strike down another of the bill’s provisions last fall, ruled the restrictions pose an undue, and thus, an unconstitutional burden on a woman’s right to choose. Read more…

It’s Past Time to End Pay Discrimination

On Thursday, the Senate passed the first of two procedural measures to advance the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 2199), which would deter pay discrimination by closing loopholes in the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and barring retaliation against workers who disclose their wages. Rachel Laser, Deputy Director of the Religious Action Center, and Rabbi Marla J. Feldman, Executive Director of Women of Reform Judaism, released the following statement:

We are pleased by today’s Senate vote to proceed on the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 2199). This vote marks a significant step toward addressing the longstanding obstacles to women’s economic security, and broader equality and participation in our society. The persistent lack of pay equity is offensive to all who believe in our nation’s commitment to the fundamental equality of women and men as well as equality of opportunity for all. This inequity is also offensive to us as Reform Jews and as moral people who believe in the dignity of work and fair compensation (Leviticus 19:13). We look forward to the bill’s final passage in both the Senate and House, and the day when all workers are paid justly for their work.

This is the farthest the Paycheck Fairness Act has ever moved in the Senate. Contact your Senators before today’s second procedural vote to encourage their support for the bill.

We are working families; we are people of faith; #WEmatter; pictures of Double Booked writers

Double Booked: Working Families Matter, #WEmatter

On August 26, 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment took effect, granting suffrage to millions of American women to demonstrate that their voices – through their votes – mattered in our democracy. It would take many decades after 1920 to ensure full voting rights for all United States citizens, an effort we are sadly still working on today.

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Sexual Violence on College Campuses

College students nationwide are uniting in the fight to prevent and penalize sexual attackers on their campuses.  The Obama Administration has taken a “strong stance” on the issue.  The White House has created a Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault.  These and other attempts to combat sexual violence on college campuses are promising, but lack a critical collaboration of university administrators, government officials, student activists and concerned constituents.

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