The situation of American women and children is disturbing. The rates of women and children physically or sexually victimized are extremely alarming. According to FBI Crime Statistics, in 2003 the United States witnessed 93,233 cases of raping. Virtually 63.2 in every 100,000 women fell victims. The statistics also showed that every two minutes one woman was sexually assaulted and every six minutes one woman was raped.
The number of women abused and treated at First Aid Centres exceeded one million every year. More than 1,500 women in the United States were killed every year by their husbands, lovers or roommates (The Milenio, Mexico, Sept. 26, 2004). Nearly 78 percent of American women were physically victimized at least once in their lifetime. And 79 percent of the women were sexually abused at least once.
A survey released in November 2004 by the US National Institute of Justice showed by the time they concluded four years of college education, 88 percent of the women had experiences of physical or sexual victimization and 64 percent of them experienced both. In the past decade, charges handled by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against sexual harassment on women surged 22 percent (The Sun, Jul. 16, 2004). Sex crimes in the US military were on the rise. According to the Washington Post (Jun. 3, 2004), from 1999 to 2002 the number of lawsuits against sexual crimes in the US army that were formally filed grew from 658 to 783, up 19 percent. And the number of rape cases went up from 356 to 445, up 25 percent. The number of such cases rose equally 5 percent between 2002 and 2003. The British Guardian reported on Oct. 25, 2004 that by the end of September 2004 the Miles Foundation had dealt with 242 cases filed between September 2002 and August 2003 about US woman soldiers being raped or sexually harassed in Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain or Afghanistan. In addition, there were 431 cases of US women soldiers being sexually harassed at other military bases.
Violent crimes occurred frequently. Studies show nearly 20 percent of US juveniles lived in families that possessed guns. In Washington D.C. 24 people younger than 18 were killed in 2004, twice as many as in 2003 (The Washington Post, Jan. 1, 2005). In Baltimore, 29 juveniles were killed from Jan. 1 to Sept. 27 in 2004. In 2003 35 were killed (The Washington Post, Sept. 28, 2004).
A report released by the US Justice Department on November 29, 2004 said about 9 percent of school kids aged 9 to 12 admitted being threatened with injury or having suffered an injury from a weapon while at school in 2003. More and more youth were reluctant to go to school because of security concerns. Child abuses and neglects were widely reported in the United States. The Sun newspaper reported on May 18, 2004 that in 2002, a total of 900,000 children in the United States were abused, of whom nearly 1,400 died. Every year, 1.98 out of every 100,000 American children were killed by their parents or guardians. In Maryland, the rate was as high as 2.4 per 100,000. (Md Child Abuse Deaths Exceed National Average, The Sun, May 18, 2004). The Houston Chronicle newspaper reported on Oct. 2, 2004 that in Texas, each staff of local government departments responsible for protecting children's rights handled 50 child abuse cases every month. Two thirds of juvenile detention facilities in the United States lock up mentally ill youth; every day, about 2,000 youth were incarcerated simply because community mental health services were unavailable. In 33 states, juvenile detention centers held youth with mental illness without any specific charges against them (http://demonstrats.reform.house.gov/...1941-41051.pdf).
Violent crimes pose a serious threat to people's lives. According to a report released by the Department of Justice of the United States on Nov. 29, 2004, in 2003 residents aged 12 and above in the United States experienced about 24 million victimizations, and there occurred 1,381,259 murders, robberies and other violent crimes, averaging 475 cases per 100,000 people. Among them there were 16,503 homicides, up 1.7 percent over 2002, or nearly six cases in every 100,000 residents, and one of every 44 Americans aged above 12 was victimized.
The Associated Press reported on June 24, 2004 that the number of violent crimes in many US cities were on the rise. In 2003 Chicago alone recorded 598 homicides, 80 percent of which involved the use of guns. The Washington D.C. reported 41,738 murders, robberies and other violent crimes in 2003, averaging 6,406.4 cases per 100,000 residents. In 2004 the District recorded 198 killings, or a homicide rate of 35 per 100,000 residents. Detroit,which has less than 1 million residents, recorded 18,724 criminal cases in 2003, including 366 murders and 814 rapes, which amounted to a homicide rate of 41 per 100,000 residents. In 2003 the homicide rate in Baltimore was 43 per 100,000 residents. The Baltimore Sun reported on Dec. 17, 2004 that the city reported 271 killings from January to early December in 2004.
It was reported that on Sept. 8, 2004 that by Sept. 4, 2004 there had been 368 homicides in the city, up 4.2 percent year-on-year. The USA Today reported on July 16, 2004 that in an average week in the US workplace one employee is killed and at least 25 are seriously injured in violent assaults by current or former co-workers. The Cincinnati Post reported on Nov. 12, 2004 that homicides average 17 a week and there are nearly 5,500 violent assaults a day at US job sites. The United States has the biggest number of gun owners and gun violence has affected lots of innocent lives. According to a survey released by the University of Chicago in 2001, 41.7 percent of men and 28.5 percent of women in the United States report having a gun in their homes, and 29.2 percent of men and 10.2 percent of women personally own a gun. The Los Angeles Times reported on Jul. 19, 2004 that since 2000 the number of firearm holders rose 28 percent in California. About 31,000 Americans are killed and 75,000 wounded by firearms each year, which means more than 80 people are shot dead each day. In 2002 there were 30,242 firearm killings in the United States; 54 percent of all suicides and 67 percent of all homicides were related to the use of firearms. The Associated Press reported that 808 people were shot dead in the first half of 2004 in Detroit.
Police violence and infringement of human rights by law enforcement agencies also constitute a serious problem. At present, 5,000 law enforcement agencies in the United States use TASER - a kind of electric shock gun, which sends out 50,000 volts of impulse voltage after hitting the target. Since 1999, more than 80 people died from TASER shootings, 60 percent of which occurred between November 2003 and November 2004.
A survey found that in the 17 years from 1985 to 2002, Los Angeles recorded more than 100 times increase in police shooting at automobile drivers, killing at least 25 and injuring more than 30 of them. Of these cases, 90 percent were due to misjudgment. (The Los Angeles Times, Feb. 29, 2004.)
On Jul. 21, 2004 Chinese citizen Zhao Yan was handcuffed and severely beaten while she was in the United States on a normal business trip. She suffered injuries in many parts of her body and serious mental harm. The New York Times reported on Apr. 19, 2004 a comprehensive study of 328 criminal cases over the last 15 years in which the convicted person was exonerated suggests that there are thousands of innocent people in prison today. The study identified 199 murder exoneration, 73 of them in capital cases. In more than half of the cases, the defendants had been in prison for more than 10 years.
The United States characterizes itself as "a paradise for free people," but the ratio of its citizens deprived of freedom has remained among the highest in the world. Statistics released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation last November showed that the nation made an estimated 13.6 million arrests in 2003. The national arrest rate was 4,695.1 arrests per 100,000 people, 0.2 percent up than that of the previous year (USA Today, Nov. 8, 2004).
According to statistics from the Department of Justice, the number of inmates in the United States jumped from 320,000 in 1980 to 2 million in 2000, a hike by six times. From 1995 to 2003, the number of inmates grew at an annual rate of 3.5 percent in the country, where one out of every 142 people is behind bars. The number of convicted offenders may total more than 6 million if parolees and probationers are also counted. The Chicago Tribune reported on Nov. 8 last year that the federal and state prison population amounted to 1.47 million last year, 2.1 percent more than in 2003. The number of criminals rose by over 5 percent in 11 states, with the growth in North Dakota up by 11.4 percent and in Minnesota by 10.3 percent.
What should be done?