On International Women’s Day, Remembering Domestic Violence Is a Stumbling Block to Women’s Equality
By Anne Morrison, ACLU Women's Rights Project
Today is International Women's Day, a day to celebrate the
advancements women have made while reflecting upon the barriers we still face. Around the world, women have made great steps towards equality, yet the injustice of violence against women has remained rampant. Here in the United States we are working to eliminate violence against women, and to hold the government responsible for helping us to do so.
Jessica Lenahan has taken the issue of police response to domestic violence to the Supreme Court and beyond. In 1999, the police failed to answer her cries for help when her estranged husband violated her restraining order and kidnapped their three daughters. This failure to respond ultimately led to the deaths of the three children. When the Supreme Court ruled that she had no constitutional right to enforcement of her restraining order, Jessica brought her case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).
In August 2011, the IACHR found the U.S. government responsible for human rights violations against Jessica and her three deceased daughters. In doing so, the IACHR made clear that protection from domestic violence is not a private concern, it is a human right. We are meeting with the IACHR on March 24 to discuss how the United States has implemented its decision, and we hope the United States will work with us to bring about an end to violence against women.
In this video, Jessica discusses her landmark IACHR decision, which names violence against women as "one of the most extreme and pervasive forms of discrimination, severely impairing and nullifying the enforcement of women's rights." This International Women's Day, let's not forget that violence against women is a large stumbling block in the path towards women's equality. It's time that the United States take charge in advancing women's rights by eliminating violence against women.
Jessica's case has been nominated for the Women's Link Worldwide Gender Justice Uncovered Gavel Award! The award highlights decisions that have had a positive impact on gender equality, and we need your help! Please vote for the case here.