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Full text: The Report on Human Rights Violations in the United States in 2022

Xinhua | Updated: 2023-03-28 13:46

V. Historic Retrogression in Women's and Children's Rights

In 2022, a major setback occurred in the protection of the rights of women and children in the United States. Women's right to abortion lost constitutional protection. Sexual assaults in schools, the military, and prisons continued to be high. Children's lives and legal rights were facing serious threats.

Banning abortion violates women's rights. In 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey that guaranteed women's abortion rights. It ended nearly 50 years of constitutionally protected abortion rights and would lead to a ban on abortion in about half of the states. Reuters reported on Dec. 1, 2022 that Indiana's attorney general asked the state's medical board to discipline an Indiana doctor who performed an abortion on a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio as Ohio banned abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. BBC reported on June 29, 2022, that U.S. Health Secretary Xavier Becerra said: "It is hard to believe that America is taking a backseat, is backsliding, when the rest of the world is moving to give women the kinds of rights they should have had a long time ago." Michelle Bachelet, then UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, pointed out on June 24, 2022, that the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on abortion is "a huge blow to women's human rights and gender equality." The ruling "represents a major setback after five decades of protection for sexual and reproductive health and rights in the U.S. through Roe v Wade."

Sexual assaults of women are shocking. One in five female students in the United States said they had been sexually assaulted in college, and the trauma affected their entire educational experience. CNN reported on Sept. 1, 2022 that reports of sexual assaults in the U.S. military spiked 13 percent in 2021, with nearly a quarter of female soldiers saying they had been sexually assaulted in the military and more than half saying they had been sexually harassed. The United States Senate issued an investigation report on Dec. 13, 2022, saying that over the past decade, cases of sexual assault on female prisoners by prison administrators happened in more than two-thirds of federal prisons, with 5,415 cases filed by U.S. prison authorities. The Associated Press reported on Feb. 6, 2022 that in 2020 there were 422 complaints against prison administrators for sexually assaulting prisoners. A federal women's prison in Dublin, California, has been dubbed a "rape club," where inmates say they have been subjected to rampant sexual assaults by correctional officers and even the warden.

Rampant gun violence threatens the lives of children. The Kaiser Family Foundation issued a report on Oct. 14, 2022, saying that from 2011 to 2021, nearly 18,500 children aged 17 and under were killed by gun violence in the United States. In 2021, an average of seven children were killed by shootings per day. The Washington Post reported on Dec. 11, 2022 that in 2022, more than 5,800 children under the age of 18 were injured or killed by shootings in the United States. As of Dec. 1, 2022, fatal gun shootings involving children had more than doubled from 2021, and non-fatal gun shootings involving children had also increased by 80 percent. In June 2022, U.S. President Joe Biden publicly admitted that "guns are the number one killer of children in the United States of America. The number one killer. More than car accidents. More than cancer. "

School shootings continue to rise. The United States is the country with the most frequent school shootings in the world. According to the "K-12 School Shooting Database," the number of school shootings in the U.S. in 2022 was 302, the highest since 1970; The number of casualties reached 332, the highest in the past five years. On May 24, 2022, a serious mass shooting occurred at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. An 18-year-old high school student entered the campus with an AR-15-style rifle purchased at a sporting goods store and killed 19 students and two teachers. The shooting is regarded as the deadliest after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012. In his remarks on the incident, U.S. President Joe Biden admitted that since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting a decade ago, there had been over 900 shooting incidents reported on school grounds. "What struck me was these kinds of mass shootings rarely happen anywhere else in the world," he said. The Washington Post reported on May 28, 2022, that the "K-12 School Shooting Database" had recorded more than 2,500 instances of threats to carry out school shootings since 2018. According to a report by BBC on May 25, 2022, Cheryl Lero Jonson, an American expert on school shootings, pointed out that young Americans today have become the "mass shooting generation."

Child poverty rates are disproportionately high. According to the data released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Sept. 13, 2022, the national poverty rate in the United States in 2021 was 12.8 percent, and the child poverty rate was 16.9 percent. In the states of Mississippi and Louisiana, as well as Washington, D.C., child poverty rates stood as high as 27.7 percent, 26.9 percent and 23.9 percent, respectively. Research by the Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University pointed out that the child poverty rate in the United States rose from 12.1 percent in December 2021 to 16.6 percent in May 2022, representing 3.3 million additional children in poverty. The book "Invisible Americans: The tragic cost of child poverty" by U.S. columnist Jeff Madrick points out that the United States is a country with historically biased attitudes toward poverty, which can't even agree on how many poor Americans are there, let alone reducing the number of poor people and poor children; If measured by a fairer and newer standard, the real number of poor people in the United States is about 60 million, and that of poor children may exceed 20 million. "Child poverty in the U.S. is a disgrace."

Illegal use of child labor persists despite repeated prohibition. According to the figures estimated by the National Center for Farmworker Health, a U.S. non-profit organization, between 300,000 and 800,000 minors were employed on farms in the United States. The Slate Magazine pointed out that fast-food employers have committed a raft of child labor violations, making teenagers work excessive hours that violate limits protecting children's health and education. Constant banning of child labor ends in failure, with the root cause lying in the loopholes in the U.S. legal system. Affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the supply chain crisis, the United States has been suffering labor shortages. Many states passed new bills to extend the working hours for minors. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, millions of U.S. teens were employed in agriculture, food service, retail, entertainment and construction industries in 2022. According to the Reuters' report published on Feb. 28, 2023, the issue of illegal employment of minors has become increasingly serious, where it had seen a nearly 70 percent increase in child labor violations since 2018. According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor, in the last fiscal year, 835 companies were found to have violated child labor laws by employing 3,800 minors, and there has been a 26 percent increase in employment of minors in hazardous occupations. The USA Today reported on Nov. 13, 2022 that a Wisconsin industrial cleaning company is accused of illegally employing more than 30 children, ages 13-17, as cleaners in meatpacking plants and farms. Several underage employees were injured on the job, including a 13-year-old burned by caustic cleaning chemicals. Reuters reported on Dec. 16, 2022 that at least four major suppliers of automobile companies have employed child labor at Alabama factories, and staffing agencies supplied those immigrant minors to work in plants. Today, the United States is still the only country among the 193 member states of the United Nations that has not put its signature on the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The prospects for solving its problem of child labor remain dim.

Conditions of juvenile detention centers are harsh. The Houston Chronicle reported on Aug. 23, 2022 that conditions are poor in the juvenile detention center located in Gatesville, Texas. Teens serving sentences for serious crimes are being locked alone in poky cells for 23 hours a day. Instead of bathroom breaks, they're given empty water bottles in which to relieve themselves. Sports programs and other activities designed to rehabilitate and redirect the troubled young people have been eliminated. Instead of attending class, they get work packets to complete in their cells, which denied their access to counseling and therapy. The Los Angeles Times reported on Nov. 29, 2022 that the juvenile detention system in Los Angeles County was in chaos. The staffing crisis in juvenile detention centers has led to frequent incidents of young detainees' conflicts and violent corrections by prison guards. The increased isolation, lack of supportive structure and violence are having detrimental effects on incarcerated youths' mental health. One incarcerated minor said he didn't feel he was being "treated like a human being."

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