Gender Based Violence: An Expanded Definition and a Pessimistic Assessment

Jane Roberts

We must expand the definition of gender based violence and be realistic about efforts to curtail let alone eradicate it.

This paper contains only my own views and I in no way speak for the U.N. Population Fund. It is also written as food for thought for the conference on gender based violence to be put on by the United States National Committee for UNIFEM and the National Council for Research on Women on June 11 and 12, 2010 in New York.

Whether there is an epidemic of gender based violence now, which seems to be the prevailing view among knowledgeable people committed to its curtailment, or whether it has always been just as prevalent but without the communications technology to holler it to the world is debatable. I suppose it really doesn’t matter. What matters is how broadly we define it now, and depending on that definition how we deal with it.

The web site of the United Nations Population Fund lists 16 forms of gender based violence. “Violence against women takes many forms: sexual assault, child marriage, incest, wife beating, prostitution, female genital mutilation, dowry-related violence, trafficking, sexual violence during wars, femicide, sexual harassment, ‘honor’ killings, forced sterilization, date rape, pornography and bride kidnapping. Violence against women may also take many forms of psychological abuse, intimidation and harassment. All are unacceptable violations of human rights. Together they form a huge obstacle to gender equality and genuine human progress.”

My view is that psychological abuse, intimidation and harassment are as equally unacceptable as physical violence. In fact they may in some cases be worse. I believe there is a huge opening for scholarly research into the effects of the psychological abuse of women and of the psychological effects of gender inequality on women and on men.

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I would like to expand the definition of gender based violence. Maternal mortality, dying in the process of giving birth, is the ultimate gender based violence. This should not happen in the 21st century. It is just a question of priorities.

Gender inequality where the male model is preferred to the female is a form of violence. To hazard a guess I would say that perhaps sixty-five percent of pro-creating couples would prefer a boy baby at least for the first born. Is this psychological preference a form of gender-based violence? Yes, because when the girl baby appears, at least at first, the parents have a feeling of let-down. At some level, this must have an effect on the baby. And then think of the psychological and cultural ambiance that has made both parents prefer the son first.

We all know that there are 1 billion hungry people in the world today. Joan Holmes, the former head of The Hunger Project has stated: “In much of the developing world, a little girl eats last and least. She is up to three times more likely than boys to suffer malnutrition.”

After all she represents the future womb out of which will come future generations. From a biological perspective alone, shouldn’t she be well fed so that future generations will “come out” thriving? By not feeding the girl child, cultures are doing violence not only to the girl but to their own progeny.

We all know that equality of educational opportunity for girls and women is often lacking. Everyone everywhere is saying that education, particularly for girls, is the key to any acceptable future. I can think of no fate worse than illiteracy for its “disempowering” potential. And yet two-thirds of the illiterate people on the planet today are women and girls. When a girl learns how to read, and when she can go beyond elementary school to high school, then she marries “later”, “better” has fewer and healthier children, sends them to school, participates in the life of her community, and often earns income which garners respect. There is no form of violence more debilitating for the individual girl and for society in general than the mind-set that girls’ education is a waste of time and resources.

Think of the girls who have no opportunity to develop their hidden talents, to play outdoors, to fly the kite, to kick the ball, to play the flute. Million of girls lack these basic freedoms accorded to their brothers. This is gender based violence.The Economist, the weekly magazine had on its March 6, 2010 cover in big pink letters “Gendercide” with a pair of empty pink booties and the question “What happened to 100 million baby girls?” We all know what happened. They were aborted while in the womb, they were killed as newborns, or they were so severely neglected as children that they died. Aside from this violence for the victims, what does this say about the mothers who in most cases “went along”? What kind of psychological violence have they suffered in order to so devalue their own sex that they would destroy their own kind?

Sad to say also that destroying a baby girl is often an economic decision. “She will cost us money to feed and educate and she will only go to her husband’s family and benefit them. We will even owe a dowry to marry her off.”

And then there is the possibility of truly ironic gender based violence. An Indian couple has killed or allowed to die two girl children and made sure that their two sons survived. This couple represents millions of couples and therefore their two sons can find no wives. So the couple pays for the kidnapping of brides for their sons. And these “brides” are victims of trafficking either internal or external. So one form of gender based violence has lead to another.

I think I am particularly sensitive to the whole subject of child marriage. When I was 13 years old, I had NO idea of a man’s genital parts. I had NO idea what the sex act involved. I even had to ask my parents what this nice sensation was that I got every night from doing certain things. (This reminds me of the Westside Story song: “Something’s coming, I don’t know what it is, but it is going to be GREAT.”) If my family had announced that I would be marrying a man much older the next day and told me in general terms what would happen, I would have been terrified. This is a kind of terrorism. I do not use the term lightly. At the Global Health Council conference several years ago, the U.N. Population Fund showed a short video entitled “Too Brief a Child: Voices of Married Adolescents.” To me these girls had been violated, raped really, their futures stolen, and their voices were heartrendingly sad. Child marriage is tolerated by cultures, protected by religious leaders, for example by the chief cleric in Saudi Arabia, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdelaziz Al al-Sheikh, often driven by poverty, and to me ranks near the top of the gender based violence scale.

Now I want to become a little bit more controversial and expand the definition of GBV a bit more. In 1994 in Cairo, Egypt, at the International Conference on Population and Development, the world recognized “the basic right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so”. The financial commitments made by the target countries have not been kept. The financial commitments made by donor countries have not been kept. This constitutes violence against women. If there is one thing that does violence to a woman’s definition of herself, and of her ability to make choices for her life, it is an unwanted burdensome pregnancy. What makes matters worse is that she often has no control over her sexual life and no access to family planning. Often her husband and/or partner forbids its use. Two hundred million women lack access to what had been promised at Cairo. This is gender based violence committed by the world. This expands the definition of GBV.

Margaret Atieno, 38 years old from the Siaya district in rural Kenya, had six children and didn’t want any more. Her husband had two other wives and there were thirteen children in all. He was against the use of contraceptives. She went to a clinic and was told that an IUD could solve her problem but the clinic had run out. Before she could return to the clinic, she was pregnant again. This is violence against women. The Cairo Consensus promised the MEANS to plan one’s family. An IUD was the MEANS by which she was going to control her fertility. The shortage of family planning commodities all over the world is a form of gender based violence. There is no question whatsoever, with the present world power structure, that if men could get pregnant, an adequate supply of family planning commodities would be guaranteed. Certain religious persuasions oppose both access to family planning and to safe legal abortion. The most notable is the Catholic Church although conservative religious forces all over the world encourage population growth as a way to gain members, riches, and political power. Many hold to the man as being head of the household and the ultimate decision maker when it comes to the family. There is no logical reason why this should not be a shared responsibility. Whatever one’s religious persuasion, it is absolutely clear that certain religious teachings (take religiously sanctioned polygamy as another example) are harmful to women, perpetuate gender inequality, and even result in the deaths of women especially when it comes to the admonition to eschew family planning. It is estimated that the universal availability of family planning would prevent about seventy percent of the 500 million deaths in childbirth every year. Using the psychological threat of displeasing God to poor illiterate women who don’t know any better is the crassest kind of psychological violence. And it results in their deaths and injuries by the millions from pregnancies which should never have happened considering the woman’s health and welfare and from unsafe illegal abortions sought by more than 20 million women per year. Let’s call this what it really is: GENDER BASED VIOLENCE.

Abortion, from time immemorial, has been how women have dealt with an unwanted pregnancy. Every year, fully twenty percent of the two hundred million pregnancies end in abortion. That’s 40 million abortions of which half are illegal, unsafe, resulting in, at the very least, 70 thousand deaths and over 5 million cases of injury, hemorrhages and infections requiring medical attention. This is called post-abortion care for which PAC is the acronym.

One view, supposedly pro-life and usually inspired by religious convictions, seems to be that abortion is the greatest sin on earth, tantamount to murder, and that everything should be done to stop it. Underlying this is religiously based misogyny disguised as love.

The other view is that when faced with an ill-timed pregnancy, frequently due to a lack of access to family planning, abortion is just a normal part of human behavior, albeit often a reluctant choice of last resort. This view holds that women should be the decision makers and that women should not be forced to risk their very lives to do what they feel is right for themselves and/or their families. Good public policy would have abortion as a legal therefore safe alternative to compulsory childbearing.

With the world’s present balance of decision making power, if men could get pregnant, family planning would be universally available and abortion would be legal and safe everywhere. The present system is violence personified.

I have never in my life been aware of militant pro-lifers admonishing men to prevent abortion by the most obvious means. Men share equal responsibility with women for abortions that result from “not wanting a baby at this time.” women are screamed at, prosecuted, prayed for, and blamed. It was Eve who ate the apple. Only she is the embodiment of sin.

Millennium Development Goal 1 calls for reducing extreme poverty and hunger. Women represent two thirds of the more than one billion people in this category. So are not extreme poverty and hunger somewhat gender based? The world tolerates such figures perhaps because, well, it’s mostly women. And poverty leads to several of the kinds of gender based violence we are talking about such as child marriage, prostitution, human trafficking and dowry related violence.

Fully forty percent of the deaths of children under 5 every year (about 9 million) happen in their first month of life. It was a pregnancy that was too early in life, too late in life, too soon after a previous pregnancy to a woman suffering from anemia, mal-nutrition. Or maybe she had an obstructed labor and the baby died aborning. Millennium Development Goal 4 calls for reducing infant and child mortality by two-thirds. Millennium Development Goal 5 is Improve Maternal Health. Shouldn’t MDG 4 and 5 be switched? It seems to me that if you take care of mothers, mothers will take care of children. But taking care of children is “politically correct” whereas taking care of mothers is a bit dicey. It might have to do with sexuality. As I understand it, Target 2 of 5 “An unmet need for family planning undermines the achievement of several other Goals” (such as 1,2,3,4,6,7, and 8 i.e. all of them) was only added late in the process. Isn’t this violence in a broad context? And just imagine the pain and suffering of 9 million women (and men) whose babies or very young children die.

And the world seems to tolerate the fact that 2 million women, due to prolonged obstructed labor, are walking the earth with obstetric fistulas, dripping urine and/ or feces out of the wrong hole. If, with the present power structure, men were walking the earth with a similar condition, smelling badly and being ostracized because of childbirth injuries, obstetric fistulas would not exist.

So I think I have expanded the definition of GBV and would like your reaction.

One could make a very good case these days that it will be extremely difficult to curtail let alone eliminate gender based violence. Here is my pessimistic assessment. For me being pessimistic is being realistic. Why?

Because the U.N. Population Division predicts a world population of 9.1 billion people by 2050 up from 6.8 billion today. There are approximately 80 million more births than deaths every year with more than 95 percent of this population growth to come about in the poorest countries with the least capabilities for meeting the needs of their people for education, health, and health infrastructure such as sanitation. The numbers of poor will increase. Poverty leads to stress which leads to gender based violence.

Darfur at its roots was in part about land and water.  About one fifth of the people on earth live in water stressed areas where there is not enough clean water right now for humanity’s and nature’s needs.  During the next 40 years the scarcity of water will be a main reason for conflicts, killings, and gender based violence.

In the coming years climate change, which is sure to exacerbate issues of food and water security, will cause massive human displacement. Environmental refugees will abound.  Although these developments will affect us all, women particularly are vulnerable and their lives are made more difficult because it is often they who grow and prepare the food, fetch the water. In sudden natural disasters like floods, cyclones, tsunamis, fully 70 percent of those who die are women. They are not physically as strong and they try to rescue their children and the elderly which slows them down.

So in a way, in the abstract, the world’s inability and/or reluctance to deal with the long range issues of population, balancing population with resources, climate change, addiction to fossil fuels, deforestation, acidification of the oceans, chemical contamination, skewing of budgets to favor militarization over education and health, and ubiquitous corruption–all of this will have nefarious effects for every living thing on earth and for women in particular. We ignore this situation at our peril.

I believe there is a connection in countries between population growth (births over deaths) and total fertility rates (i.e. children per woman) and GBV.  Pakistan has a birth rate of 3.87 children per woman and its population is expected to grow from  180 million now to 335 million by 2050.  GBV is prevalent and will increase. Guatemala has a birth rate of 4.02 children per woman and the population is expected to increase from 14 million now to 27 million by 2050. GBV is prevalent now and will increase.  Africa’s population will increase from 1 to 2 billion people over the next 40 years with a total fertility rate in sub-Saharan Africa of nearly 5 children per woman. There is no chance that GBV will become less prevalent in Africa.  Many women in Africa believe it is a man’s right to hit or beat his wife. Scientists also say that Africa is the continent to suffer the most from climate change with droughts and floods and concomitant wars over resources, where rape will continue to be used as a weapon of war and where women will be particularly vulnerable to violence in refugee camps.

From my point of view, the United Nations, in the years to come, will become not much more than a crisis response and crisis management entity. In many instances it will fail. Crises will simply be too big to handle. And in a resource depleted world, which will result in an Every Man for Himself (as the saying goes) ethic, women will bear the brunt of the unwillingness of the powers that be to not only tell the truth about where we are headed now but to make the necessary decisions for the long term that could make life on earth at least halfway decent for all of life as we know it.

To rid the world of gender based violence we need gender equality in all realms. Stephen Lewis, former U.N. ambassador to Africa for AIDS has exhorted us: “I challenge you to enter the fray against gender inequality.  There is no more honorable or productive calling.  There is nothing of greater import in this world.  All roads lead from women to social change.”  We need individuals to change, governments to change, cultures to change, religions to change, laws to change, economies to change, consciousness and consciences to change.  No small order. We need a complete revolution in thinking and doing.

One possible obstacle to expanding the definition of GBV and to dealing with the   deeper issues would be that the coalition against GBV might be weakened by the withdrawal of support by certain individuals and/or interests.  Being against GBV as presently defined is SAFE!  We have to be realistic. We might not want to lose members of the anti GBV coalition by expanding the definition. An interesting discussion of this conundrum could take place.

From my point of view, what the National Committee for UNIFEM and NCRW will be engaged in at this June conference is both laudable and necessary. Every tool must be used to combat GBV. But quite honestly, if we don’t expand the definition and deal with the deep long term issues mentioned above, gender based violence will continue to wrack the planet and 40 years from now we will all be back to square one.

Culture & Conversation Human Rights

Let’s Stop Conflating Self-Care and Actual Care

Katie Klabusich

It's time for a shift in the use of “self-care” that creates space for actual care apart from the extra kindnesses and important, small indulgences that may be part of our self-care rituals, depending on our ability to access such activities.

As a chronically ill, chronically poor person, I have feelings about when, why, and how the phrase “self-care” is invoked. When International Self-Care Day came to my attention, I realized that while I laud the effort to prevent some of the 16 million people the World Health Organization reports die prematurely every year from noncommunicable diseases, the American notion of self-care—ironically—needs some work.

I propose a shift in the use of “self-care” that creates space for actual care apart from the extra kindnesses and important, small indulgences that may be part of our self-care rituals, depending on our ability to access such activities. How we think about what constitutes vital versus optional care affects whether/when we do those things we should for our health and well-being. Some of what we have come to designate as self-care—getting sufficient sleep, treating chronic illness, allowing ourselves needed sick days—shouldn’t be seen as optional; our culture should prioritize these things rather than praising us when we scrape by without them.

International Self-Care Day began in China, and it has spread over the past few years to include other countries and an effort seeking official recognition at the United Nations of July 24 (get it? 7/24: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week) as an important advocacy day. The online academic journal SelfCare calls its namesake “a very broad concept” that by definition varies from person to person.

“Self-care means different things to different people: to the person with a headache it might mean a buying a tablet, but to the person with a chronic illness it can mean every element of self-management that takes place outside the doctor’s office,” according to SelfCare. “[I]n the broadest sense of the term, self-care is a philosophy that transcends national boundaries and the healthcare systems which they contain.”

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In short, self-care was never intended to be the health version of duct tape—a way to patch ourselves up when we’re in pieces from the outrageous demands of our work-centric society. It’s supposed to be part of our preventive care plan alongside working out, eating right, getting enough sleep, and/or other activities that are important for our personalized needs.

The notion of self-care has gotten a recent visibility boost as those of us who work in human rights and/or are activists encourage each other publicly to recharge. Most of the people I know who remind themselves and those in our movements to take time off do so to combat the productivity anxiety embedded in our work. We’re underpaid and overworked, but still feel guilty taking a break or, worse, spending money on ourselves when it could go to something movement- or bill-related.

The guilt is intensified by our capitalist system having infected the self-care philosophy, much as it seems to have infected everything else. Our bootstrap, do-it-yourself culture demands we work to the point of exhaustion—some of us because it’s the only way to almost make ends meet and others because putting work/career first is expected and applauded. Our previous president called it “uniquely American” that someone at his Omaha, Nebraska, event promoting “reform” of (aka cuts to) Social Security worked three jobs.

“Uniquely American, isn’t it?” he said. “I mean, that is fantastic that you’re doing that. (Applause.) Get any sleep? (Laughter.)”

The audience was applauding working hours that are disastrous for health and well-being, laughing at sleep as though our bodies don’t require it to function properly. Bush actually nailed it: Throughout our country, we hold Who Worked the Most Hours This Week competitions and attempt to one-up the people at the coffee shop, bar, gym, or book club with what we accomplished. We have reached a point where we consider getting more than five or six hours of sleep a night to be “self-care” even though it should simply be part of regular care.

Most of us know intuitively that, in general, we don’t take good enough care of ourselves on a day-to-day basis. This isn’t something that just happened; it’s a function of our work culture. Don’t let the statistic that we work on average 34.4 hours per week fool you—that includes people working part time by choice or necessity, which distorts the reality for those of us who work full time. (Full time is defined by the Internal Revenue Service as 30 or more hours per week.) Gallup’s annual Work and Education Survey conducted in 2014 found that 39 percent of us work 50 or more hours per week. Only 8 percent of us on average work less than 40 hours per week. Millennials are projected to enjoy a lifetime of multiple jobs or a full-time job with one or more side hustles via the “gig economy.”

Despite worker productivity skyrocketing during the past 40 years, we don’t work fewer hours or make more money once cost of living is factored in. As Gillian White outlined at the Atlantic last year, despite politicians and “job creators” blaming financial crises for wage stagnation, it’s more about priorities:

Though productivity (defined as the output of goods and services per hours worked) grew by about 74 percent between 1973 and 2013, compensation for workers grew at a much slower rate of only 9 percent during the same time period, according to data from the Economic Policy Institute.

It’s no wonder we don’t sleep. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been sounding the alarm for some time. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society recommend people between 18 and 60 years old get seven or more hours sleep each night “to promote optimal health and well-being.” The CDC website has an entire section under the heading “Insufficient Sleep Is a Public Health Problem,” outlining statistics and negative outcomes from our inability to find time to tend to this most basic need.

We also don’t get to the doctor when we should for preventive care. Roughly half of us, according to the CDC, never visit a primary care or family physician for an annual check-up. We go in when we are sick, but not to have screenings and discuss a basic wellness plan. And rarely do those of us who do go tell our doctors about all of our symptoms.

I recently had my first really wonderful check-up with a new primary care physician who made a point of asking about all the “little things” leading her to encourage me to consider further diagnosis for fibromyalgia. I started crying in her office, relieved that someone had finally listened and at the idea that my headaches, difficulty sleeping, recovering from illness, exhaustion, and pain might have an actual source.

Considering our deeply-ingrained priority problems, it’s no wonder that when I post on social media that I’ve taken a sick day—a concept I’ve struggled with after 20 years of working multiple jobs, often more than 80 hours a week trying to make ends meet—people applaud me for “doing self-care.” Calling my sick day “self-care” tells me that the commenter sees my post-traumatic stress disorder or depression as something I could work through if I so chose, amplifying the stigma I’m pushing back on by owning that a mental illness is an appropriate reason to take off work. And it’s not the commenter’s fault; the notion that working constantly is a virtue is so pervasive, it affects all of us.

Things in addition to sick days and sleep that I’ve had to learn are not engaging in self-care: going to the doctor, eating, taking my meds, going to therapy, turning off my computer after a 12-hour day, drinking enough water, writing, and traveling for work. Because it’s so important, I’m going to say it separately: Preventive health care—Pap smears, check-ups, cancer screenings, follow-ups—is not self-care. We do extras and nice things for ourselves to prevent burnout, not as bandaids to put ourselves back together when we break down. You can’t bandaid over skipping doctors appointments, not sleeping, and working your body until it’s a breath away from collapsing. If you’re already at that point, you need straight-up care.

Plenty of activities are self-care! My absolutely not comprehensive personal list includes: brunch with friends, adult coloring (especially the swear word books and glitter pens), soy wax with essential oils, painting my toenails, reading a book that’s not for review, a glass of wine with dinner, ice cream, spending time outside, last-minute dinner with my boyfriend, the puzzle app on my iPad, Netflix, participating in Caturday, and alone time.

My someday self-care wish list includes things like vacation, concerts, the theater, regular massages, visiting my nieces, decent wine, the occasional dinner out, and so very, very many books. A lot of what constitutes self-care is rather expensive (think weekly pedicures, spa days, and hobbies with gear and/or outfit requirements)—which leads to the privilege of getting to call any part of one’s routine self-care in the first place.

It would serve us well to consciously add an intersectional view to our enthusiasm for self-care when encouraging others to engage in activities that may be out of reach financially, may disregard disability, or may not be right for them for a variety of other reasons, including compounded oppression and violence, which affects women of color differently.

Over the past year I’ve noticed a spike in articles on how much of the emotional labor burden women carry—at the Toast, the Atlantic, Slate, the Guardian, and the Huffington Post. This category of labor disproportionately affects women of color. As Minaa B described at the Huffington Post last month:

I hear the term self-care a lot and often it is defined as practicing yoga, journaling, speaking positive affirmations and meditation. I agree that those are successful and inspiring forms of self-care, but what we often don’t hear people talking about is self-care at the intersection of race and trauma, social justice and most importantly, the unawareness of repressed emotional issues that make us victims of our past.

The often-quoted Audre Lorde wrote in A Burst of Light: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

While her words ring true for me, they are certainly more weighted and applicable for those who don’t share my white and cisgender privilege. As covered at Ravishly, the Feminist Wire, Blavity, the Root, and the Crunk Feminist Collective recently, self-care for Black women will always have different expressions and roots than for white women.

But as we continue to talk about self-care, we need to be clear about the difference between self-care and actual care and work to bring the necessities of life within reach for everyone. Actual care should not have to be optional. It should be a priority in our culture so that it can be a priority in all our lives.

Roundups Politics

Campaign Week in Review: Republican National Convention Edition

Ally Boguhn

The Trump family's RNC claims about crime and the presidential candidate's record on gender equality have kept fact-checkers busy.

Republicans came together in Cleveland this week to nominate Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention (RNC), generating days of cringe-inducing falsehoods and misleading statements on crime, the nominee’s positions on gender equality, and LGBTQ people.

Trump’s Acceptance Speech Blasted for Making False Claims on Crime

Trump accepted the Republican nomination in a Thursday night speech at the RNC that drew harsh criticism for many of its misleading and outright false talking points.

Numerous fact-checkers took Trump to task, calling out many of his claims for being “wrong,” and “inflated or misleading.”

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 Among the most hotly contested of Trump’s claims was the assertion that crime has exploded across the country.

“Decades of progress made in bringing down crime are now being reversed by this administration’s rollback of criminal enforcement,” Trump claimed, according to his prepared remarks, which were leaked ahead of his address. “Homicides last year increased by 17 percent in America’s 50 largest cities. That’s the largest increase in 25 years. In our nation’s capital, killings have risen by 50 percent. They are up nearly 60 percent in nearby Baltimore.”

Crime rates overall have been steadily declining for years.

“In 2015, there was an uptick in homicides in 36 of the 50 largest cities compared to the previous years. The rate did, indeed, increase nearly 17 percent, and it was the worst annual change since 1990. The homicide rate was up 54.3 percent in Washington, and 58.5 percent in Baltimore,” explained Washington Post fact checkers Glenn Kessler and Michelle Ye Hee Lee. “But in the first months of 2016, homicide trends were about evenly split in the major cities. Out of 63 agencies reporting to the Major Cities Chiefs Association, 32 cities saw a decrease in homicides in first quarter 2016 and 31 saw an increase.”

Ames Grawert, a counsel in the Brennan Center’s Justice Program, said in a statement posted to the organization’s website that 2016 statistics aren’t sufficient in declaring crime rate trends. 

“Overall, crime rates remain at historic lows. Fear-inducing soundbites are counterproductive, and distract from nuanced, data-driven, and solution-oriented conversations on how to build a smarter criminal justice system in America,” Grawert said. “It’s true that some cities saw an increase in murder rates last year, and that can’t be ignored, but it’s too early to say if that’s part of a national trend.” 

When Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign chairman, was confronted with the common Republican falsehoods on crime during a Thursday interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, he claimed that the FBI’s statistics were not to be trusted given that the organization recently advised against charges in connection with Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state.

“According to FBI statistics, crime rates have been going down for decades,” Tapper told Manafort. “How can Republicans make the argument that it’s somehow more dangerous today when the facts don’t back that up?”

“People don’t feel safe in their neighborhoods,” said Manafort, going on to claim that “the FBI is certainly suspect these days after what they did with Hillary Clinton.”

There was at least one notable figure who wholeheartedly embraced Trump’s fearmongering: former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke. “Great Trump Speech,” tweeted Duke on Thursday evening. “Couldn’t have said it better!”

Ben Carson Claims Transgender People Are Proof of “How Absurd We Have Become”

Former Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson criticized the existence of transgender people while speaking at the Florida delegation breakfast on Tuesday in Cleveland.  

“You know, we look at this whole transgender thing, I’ve got to tell you: For thousands of years, mankind has known what a man is and what a woman is. And now, all of a sudden we don’t know anymore,” said Carson, a retired neurosurgeon. “Now, is that the height of absurdity? Because today you feel like a woman, even though everything about you genetically says that you’re a man or vice versa?”

“Wouldn’t that be the same as if you woke up tomorrow morning after seeing a movie about Afghanistan or reading some books and said, ‘You know what? I’m Afghanistan. Look, I know I don’t look that way. My ancestors came from Sweden, or something, I don’t know. But I really am. And if you say I’m not, you’re a racist,’” Carson said. “This is how absurd we have become.”

When confronted with his comments during an interview with Yahoo News’ Katie Couric, Carson doubled down on his claims.“There are biological markers that tell us whether we are a male or a female,” said Carson. “And just because you wake up one day and you say, ‘I think I’m the other one,’ that doesn’t change it. Just, a leopard can’t change its spots.”

“It’s not as if they woke up one day and decided, ‘I’m going to be a male or I’m going to be a female,’” Couric countered, pointing out that transgender people do not suddenly choose to change their gender identities on a whim.

Carson made several similar comments last year while on the campaign trail.

In December, Carson criticized the suggested that allowing transgender people into the military amounted to using the armed services “as a laboratory for social experimentation.”

Carson once suggested that allowing transgender people to use the restroom that aligned with their gender identity amounted to granting them “extra rights.”

Ivanka Trump Claims Her Father Supports Equal Pay, Access to Child Care

Ivanka Trump, the nominee’s daughter, made a pitch during her speech Thursday night at the RNC for why women voters should support her father.

“There have always been men of all background and ethnicities on my father’s job sites. And long before it was commonplace, you also saw women,” Ivanka Trump said. “At my father’s company, there are more female than male executives. Women are paid equally for the work that we do and when a woman becomes a mother, she is supported, not shut out.” 

“As president, my father will change the labor laws that were put into place at a time when women were not a significant portion of the workforce. And he will focus on making quality child care affordable and accessible for all,” she continued before pivoting to address the gender wage gap. 

“Policies that allow women with children to thrive should not be novelties; they should be the norm. Politicians talk about wage equality, but my father has made it a practice at his company throughout his entire career.”

However, Trump’s stated positions on the gender wage gap, pregnancy and mothers in the workplace, and child care don’t quite add up to the picture the Trumps tried to paint at the RNC.

In 2004, Trump called pregnancy an “inconvenience” for employers. When a lawyer asked for a break during a deposition in 2011 to pump breast milk, Trump reportedly called her “disgusting.”

According to a June analysis conducted by the Boston Globe, the Trump campaign found that men who worked on Trump’s campaign “made nearly $6,100, or about 35 percent more [than women during the April payroll]. The disparity is slightly greater than the gender pay gap nationally.”

A former organizer for Trump also filed a discrimination complaint in January, alleging that she was paid less than her male counterparts.

When Trump was questioned about equal pay during a campaign stop last October, he did not outline his support for policies to address the issue. Instead, Trump suggested that, “You’re gonna make the same if you do as good a job.” Though he had previously stated that men and women who do the same job should be paid the same during an August 2015 interview on MSNBC, he also cautioned that determining whether people were doing the same jobs was “tricky.”

Trump has been all but completely silent on child care so far on the campaign trail. In contrast, Clinton released an agenda in May to address the soaring costs of child care in the United States.

Ivanka’s claims were not the only attempt that night by Trump’s inner circle to explain why women voters should turn to the Republican ticket. During an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, Manafort said that women would vote for the Republican nominee because they “can’t afford their lives anymore.”

“Many women in this country feel they can’t afford their lives, their husbands can’t afford to be paying for the family bills,” claimed Manafort. “Hillary Clinton is guilty of being part of the establishment that created that problem. They’re going to hear the message. And as they hear the message, that’s how we are going to appeal to them.”

What Else We’re Reading

Vox’s Dara Lind explained how “Trump’s RNC speech turned his white supporters’ fear into a weapon.”

Now that Mike Pence is the Republican nominee for vice president, Indiana Republicans have faced “an intense, chaotic, awkward week of brazen lobbying at the breakfast buffet, in the hallways and on the elevators” at the convention as they grapple with who will run to replace the state’s governor, according to the New York Times.

“This is a party and a power structure that feels threatened with extinction, willing to do anything for survival,” wrote Rebecca Traister on Trump and the RNC for New York Magazine. “They may not love Trump, but he is leading them precisely because he embodies their grotesque dreams of the restoration of white, patriarchal power.”

Though Trump spent much of the primary season denouncing big money in politics, while at the RNC, he courted billionaires in hopes of having them donate to supporting super PACs.

Michael Kranish reported for the Washington Post that of the 2,472 delegates at the RNC, it is estimated that only 18 were Black.

Cosmopolitan highlighted nine of the most sexist things that could be found at the convention.

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) asked, “Where are these contributions that have been made” by people of color to civilization?