The amount of U.S. aid and compassion directed toward women in developing countries is both heartwarming and humbling. America has championed global women’s rights for decades, but lately we’ve fallen a bit behind.

Sometimes I get frustrated with the lack of resources aimed toward addressing women’s and girl’s issues here at home. American women face immense challenges but--for some reason—donors send the bulk of their money abroad. Not sure why this is, exactly, except to say that maybe it’s easier for people and nations to focus on developing the external because taking inventory of the internal hurts like hell.

However painful it may be to peer at and pick apart our society’s failing of its women, we’ve got to do the work. Women in the United States must begin to look at their own conditions and to find ways to begin aiding each other in overcoming the barriers that exist to our collective and individual success.

Sexual slavery is not a foreign phenomenon. As evidenced by the conviction of Demetrius Homer in Atlanta last week, it’s a reality that faces us here at home, too. Homer was sentenced to 20 years in prison for holding a 14 year-old—who was pregnant with his child—as a sex slave and for prostituting her out to various men in the Atlanta area over a 10-month period. Elizabeth Smart provides us with a similar example. Last week in Texas, Warren Jeffs was also convicted of sexual abuse of a minor and sentenced to life in prison; it was uncovered during the trial that many of the Fundamentalist Mormon leaders’ wives were, in fact, under the age of 17. These girls were not only not helped by the older female members of their cult, they were held down by senior co-wives and forced to submit to Jeffs’ demands instead. In court, tapes of the rapes—which Jeffs liked listening to while driving, were aired publicly before the world . Shock and awe, sure. In America? Wow.

Despite the media’s claims of outrage, news coverage seemed detached from the fact that any of those girls might have been the anchors’ sister or daughter. The Mormon factor was emphasized to make these events more digestible to news consumers; the implication was that only members of some bizarre cult could have allowed such things to happen amongst them

A street-level glimpse of life from an American woman who has lived it? All around you RIGHT NOW--in every American city big or small--are:

girls who have dropped out of high school to have a baby women who are being beaten by their husbands friends who have been raped those who have survived child sexual abuse girls who are being pimped out women who are selling themselves to buy food, pay bills and/or to secure a marriage for themselves and females who are healing from the unimaginable emotional scars left behind by abortion, their mothers, racism, sexism and workplace discrimination, just to name a few.

Everyday our daughters, sisters, mothers, aunts and cousins are being harassed, targeted, exploited, abused and even enslaved by the men who have successfully managed to commodify them. They’re swimming upstream in a society that supports the raping of them via television, the internet, hypersexualized advertising and through the music and film industries.

I’d like to see some American money go to help them.

Mentoring, vocational training, educational support and financial resources need to be made available to American women, too. We have a long legacy of impacting women’s lives for the better across the globe, but if we don’t start caring for each other in the same ways soon, we will find we have become physically, emotionally and spiritually bankrupt in the process of focusing on the external when we should have been fixing self first.

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