It is no secret that women in America face discrimination and violence on a daily basis. Yet this fact is consistently ignored by many policymakers. Even when the government addresses such instances, very rarely do they categorize it as misogynistic violence.
People always shift the blame to a different issue. In order to decrease violence against women, politicians and experts need to stop evading the topic and face it head on.
The most recent example of skirting around how unsafe it is to be a woman in America is the case of Mollie Tibbetts. Tibbetts, a 20-year-old college student, was murdered in July while on a run. Rather than focus on the fact she was a young girl senselessly murdered for rejecting a man’s advances, many people fixated on the fact that the man responsible was an undocumented immigrant.
Instead of advocating for lower levels of violence against women, major politicians chose to condemn undocumented immigrants.
“You heard about today, with the illegal alien coming in, very sadly from Mexico. And you saw what happened to that incredible, beautiful young woman, It should have never happened. Illegally in our country,” President Donald Trump said, according to Harper’s Bazaar.
People all over the world will see Tibbetts’s face and read her story. Many of those people will only see her as a victim of illegal immigration, thanks to the way the president and other government officials have talked about her and her case. Fewer people will recognize the role of misogynistic violence in her death.
The handling of Tibbetts’s death is ironic. Just as those in power have neglected the true issue surrounding her death, they have blatantly disregarded the wishes of her family and friends. The politicization of her murder continued even after her family specifically requested it to stop, with some of those close to her speaking out on social media.
Tibbetts’s aunt shared a post on Facebook by a woman named Kasie Schultz Taylor who criticized the politicization of Tibbetts’s death, according to Bustle.
“Please do not compound the atrocity of what happened to her by adding racism and hate to the equation,” the post said. “Anyone that knew Mollie knows she wouldn’t want that … Respect each other, support each other but most importantly BE KIND!”
Women experiencing rape, kidnapping, murder and any other form of violence is not new in the United States. These awful attacks are rooted in much more than race or immigration status. If family and friends who tragically lose someone can understand this, government officials should be able to recognize it as well.
In fact, some studies have found that violence actually decreases in areas with more undocumented immigrants, according to Harper’s Bazaar.
Those blaming Tibbetts’s murder on illegal immigration are speaking empty words that help no one. If they addressed her case as one involving serious issues with the way women are treated in society, perhaps people could see tangible change.
For example, one way to prevent violence against women would be to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, an act that is set to expire by the end of September 2018 if Congress doesn’t reinstate it. A 2018 revision of the act would include stricter gun laws against domestic abusers, according to HuffPost.
Emphasizing important concepts such as consent, domestic abuse and stalking would similarly promote safer environments for women throughout society.
Steps need to be taken to decrease violence against women in this country. If education takes priority over political agendas, similar events can be prevented in the future.