Human rights record of the United States

Updated: 2016-04-15 08:09

(China Daily)

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Missing Rights for Women and Children

Rights of women and children were grossly violated in the United States in 2015.

Women were facing serious workplace discrimination, domestic violence and sexual violation and children were under the threats of arms, abuse, poverty and police violence.

Women were facing worsening situation of inferior social status. On December 11, 2015, the United Nations Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice delivered a statement after a mission to the United States and pointed out the missing rights and protections such as universal paid maternity leave, accessible reproductive health care and equal opportunity in standing for political election for the country's women. In the United States, women fell behind international standards as regards their public and political representation, their economic and social rights and their health and safety protections. Women's average representation in state legislatures was 24.9 percent. This rate placed the country at only the 72nd in global ranking. The gender wage gap was 21 percent. The percentage of women in poverty increased over the past decade, from 12.1 percent to 14.5 percent, with a higher rate of poverty than men. Poor and immigrant women faced severe barriers in accessing sexual and reproductive health services. Women faced fatal consequences of lack of gun control, in particular in cases of domestic violence. The statement also expressed concerns over violence against women in detention as well as the alarming high rates of violence against Native-American women (, December 11, 2015).

Women were suffering workplace discrimination. A report released by the U.S. Census Bureau in September 2015 revealed that women in the U.S. were paid 79 cents for every dollar paid to men in 2014, amounting to a yearly wage gap of 10,762 U.S. dollars between full-time working men and women ( The United Nations' International Labor Organization said in 2014 that out of the 185 countries and territories with available data, the United States was the only industrialized nation with no overall law for cash benefits provided to women during maternity leave (, May 6, 2015). A report at the website of the Los Angeles Times on May 6, 2015 said that white men had a 42 percent advantage over white women when it came to being promoted to the executive level in U.S. tech companies, but that paled in comparison to the 260 percent advantage they had to Asian women (, May 6, 2015).

Women fell victim to various forms of sex harassments and sex assaults. A survey released by the Association of American Universities in September 2015 indicated that 23 percent of undergraduate women said they were victims of non-consensual sexual contact and that 20 percent of students said sexual assault and misconduct was very or extremely problematic on their own campus (, September 21, 2015;, September 1/September 21, 2015). According to a report at the USA Today website on August 17, 2015, a total of 37 percent of women said they had experienced some kind of online harassment. A total of 54 percent of Hispanics and 51 percent of African Americans said they had experienced online harassment. Also, women were more likely to be targets of serious cases in which they were stalked and sexually harassed (, August 17, 2015). Another article at the USA Today website on December 11, 2015 reported that Daniel Holtzclaw, a former Oklahoma City police officer, was convicted of sexually assaulting women he preyed upon in a low-income neighborhood he patrolled. He was convicted of 18 counts connected to eight women, all of whom were black (, December 11, 2015).

Children were under the threats of guns. According to statistics from the Gun Violence Archive website, as of December 28, 2015, gun-related incidents that year left 682 children under the age of 11 and 2,640 children aged between 12 and 17 killed or injured (, December 28, 2015). The RT America reported at its website on October 10, 2015 that the number of U.S. school shootings that year climbed to 52. There were at least two school shootings a month in 2015 (, October 10, 2015). A report at the website of the USA Today on January 21, 2015 said that almost two children were killed every week in unintentional shootings, and nearly two thirds of these unintended deaths took place in a home or vehicle that belonged to the victim's family (, January 22, 2015). More than a quarter of the teenagers-15 years old and up-who died of injuries in the United States were killed in gun-related incidents, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (, January 12, 2015).

Poor health and living conditions for children. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the rate of newborns with syphilis jumped 38 percent between 2012 and 2014 to its highest level in more than a decade (, November 12, 2015). A survey said that one in five drug abusers in some treatment programs in the United States received their first taste of these illegal substances from their parents, usually before the age of 18 (, August 24, 2015). According to U.S. Census Bureau, about 17.4 million children under the age of 18 were being raised without a father and 45 percent lived below the poverty line (, June 1, 2015). About 6 percent of New York City's African-American population under 18 years old and nearly 3 percent Latino children utilized New York City shelters because of homelessness (, March 19, 2015). The USA Today website reported on August 15, 2015 that 47 percent of rural Hispanic babies were born poor, compared to 41 percent of Hispanic babies in urban areas. Hispanics babies born in rural enclaves were more likely to be impoverished and it was harder for them to receive help from federal and state programs, such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. "These babies are starting behind the starting line." (, August 15, 2015)

Children suffered abuse. A report at the website of The Washington Post on January 1, 2015 said that among the young children killed in the D.C. region, the majority were killed by a parent or guardian (, January 1, 2015). The Miami Herald website on March 10, 2015 reported that one in three girls and one in five boys would become a victim of child sexual abuse in Florida before they turned 18. Such experience would have serious negative impact on their future lives. On average, each victim of child sexual abuse would lose 250,000 U.S. dollars in earnings throughout his or her lifetime because of the abuse. Fifty percent of victims had below-average grades (, March 10, 2015).

African-American children fell victim to police violence. The CNN website on June 10, 2015 reported that a video went viral online showing violence by a white police officer of the Police Department in McKinney, Texas, against a 14-year-old African-American girl. The officer, called to a community swimming pool party after complaints, cursed at several black teenagers and yanked the girl wearing only a bikini to the ground. He also pointed his gun at the teenagers. The white witness who shot the video said there was no doubt race was a factor in how police responded. This incident triggered some public protests (, June 10, 2015). On October 26, 2015, a video that showed Ben Fields, a white school resource officer at Spring Valley High School in South Carolina, manhandling an African-American school girl drew intense criticism. The officer grabbed the girl, who used her cell phone during class, by the neck, flipped her over and dragged her across the floor. Fields in 2013 was named as a defendant in a federal lawsuit that claimed he "unfairly and recklessly targets African-American students." The U.S. National Association for the Advancement of Colored People criticized that such violence "doesn't affect white students". Victoria Middleton, the executive director for the South Carolina branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, said that regardless of the reason for the officer's actions, such egregious use of force-against young people who were sitting in their classrooms-was outrageous. "School should be a place to learn and grow, not a place to be brutalized."