Tag Archives: Women’s Rights
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.

The announcement comes on the heels of the 20th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act, which acknowledges that domestic violence and sexual assault are crimes under the law and allocates federal funding for survivor services. Vice President Biden, who, as a Senator in 1994 sponsored the original VAWA bill, recently identified the bill as his “proudest legislative accomplishment.” Indeed, VAWA has made strides for survivor services and coordinated community responses to violence. The most recent reauthorization of VAWA, passed in 2013, included provisions for culturally comprehensive services to help break down access barriers for LGBT, immigrant, and Native American survivors of violence.

But, as “It’s On Us” acknowledges, our work is not yet done. Rape and sexual assault on college campuses are rampant. One in five women and one in eight men are raped or sexually assaulted during their time at school. What is more, university administrations are largely failing to respond adequately to students’ reports. A survey of more than 300 colleges and universities commissioned earlier this year by Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) found that “many institutions are failing to comply with the law and best practices in how they handle sexual violence among students.” More than 40 percent of schools have not pursued investigations of a single rape or sexual assault in more than five years, but that is not because these assaults are not happening. As the survey highlights, students face barriers to reporting their assault, meaning that data does not accurately reflect the severity of the problem.

The confined setting of a campus community poses unique challenges for those students, both men and women alike. It is far too common for survivors to be subject to daily, traumatic reminders of a past assault upon seeing their assailant in the dining hall, in the dorm, or in class. Student activists across the country are responding; in fact, it is their work that has inspired the wave of Congressional and the White House attention to rape and sexual assault on college campuses. These students find a legal basis for their claim in Title IX, widely known as the statute that governs varsity athletics, and which more broadly prohibits universities and other institutions that receive federal funding from discriminating on the basis of sex. Initiatives such as Know Your IX assert that by mishandling reports and failing to seriously condemn acts of violence, university administrations are failing students who have a moral and legal right to a safe learning and living environment.

Our Jewish tradition teaches us that mental distress and moral humiliation are equated with physical harm. Our faith also commands us not to stand idly by while our neighbor bleeds (Leviticus 19:16). The physical and emotional abuse inherent in sexual violence is a direct violation of the Jewish tradition and of a broader morality that implicates us to protect ourselves and our peers. The burden is on all of us to foster an environment that does not tolerate rape or sexual assault, and to drive a shift toward cultural norms that prevent those assaults in the first place.

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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Equal Pay Is Essential for Everyone

There is no shortage of rhetoric from American politicians about the value of work. The problem is that far too many people are working as hard as ever, only to find that they do not make as much as their colleagues for doing the same work. The wage gap is an unfortunate reality for a significant number of American women.

On average, a woman presently makes 77 cents to every dollar a man makes in America and for women of color the situation is even more drastic. It is estimated that African-American women make 64 cents for every dollar a man makes, while for Hispanic women the figure drops to 54 cents. Women are now the primary wage earners in more families than ever before. This means that millions of people are depending on the wages of women for the basic necessities of living.

Read more…

Working Families Liveblog: Double Booked at the White House Summit

Today, the White House’s summit on Working Families is helping elevate a conversation we have been fostering here at the RAC through our Double Booked initiative. As our deputy director Rachel Laser indicated in her post last week, this series “has lifted up unique and diverse moral voices and personal stories around working families issues – starting a conversation about policy and cultural changes we need in our country that would benefit not only working families, but also workplaces and our broader national community.”

Stay tuned as we share live updates from the Summit, where some 40 moral leaders and advocates are ensuring a strong faith and Jewish presence in this important dialogue.

It’s Time for Moms’ Equal Pay

In the month between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, we honor and celebrate parents. On June 12, just three days before Father’s Day (June 15), we take action on Moms’ Equal Pay Day, the day in when mothers’ salaries would catch up to fathers’ salaries over the calendar year.

For Moms’ Equal Pay, we are initiating a photo campaign on social media to bring the conversation about gender-based wage discrimination to dads, brothers, uncles, grandfathers, cousins – all allies in the fight for equal pay for equal work. Wage discrimination is not just about moms, but dads, kids, and whole families. Between Moms’ Equal Pay Day and Father’s Day, encourage all the dads in your life to take a picture with their families and use this document to write in who they are honoring for Father’s Day:

“End Pay Discrimination in Honor of: my wife/my mom/my sister/my daughter”

Then, please share the picture on Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #MomsEqualPay. We will be collecting images and posting to Double Booked: A Conversation on Working Families in the 21st Century. As there are many possible policy, social, and cultural solutions that would benefit working families, it is important to highlight this very critical one: pay equity for women. We are lifting our voices to illustrate the challenges that working families face today and to suggest solutions that workplaces can implement to support working families.

Father’s Day Moms’ Equal Pay Shareable Image – Print this to use in your pictures! For a #MomsEqualPay or #DoubleBooked picture for Father’s Day.

Check out the example from Rabbi Michael Namath, the RAC’s Program Director!

And — be sure to check back here at RACblog and at Double Booked for pictures of Dads for #MomsEqualPay! Today, the 51st Anniversary of the Equal Pay Act, let’s sound the clarion call for true equal pay for equal work, for moms from dads, for women from us all!