Washington, Jan 13 (IANS) Indian-American activist and sexual-abuse survivor Amita Swadhin urged the US Senate Judiciary Committee to reject President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination of Jeff Sessions for Attorney-General, saying the prospect of him in the role is “incredibly worrisome”.
Representing survivors of sexual abuse and violence, and the LGBTI community, Ms Swadhin was called to testify by Democrats before the committee on the second day of a confirmation hearing for Senator Sessions, according to a report in NBC News on Thursday.
“As a bisexual woman with a transgender romantic partner, and as an advocate working to support sexual assault survivors in the LGBT community, the prospect of Senator Sessions as Attorney General is personally and professionally alarming,” said Swadhin at the hearing on Wednesday.
“Despite [Senator Sessions’] claims to be a champion for victims of violent crime, he has not been a friend to vulnerable survivors,” she said.
During her testimony, Swadhin, who said she was regularly raped by her father between the age of 4 and 12, detailed the toll the abuse had.
“I endured psychological, physical, and verbal abuse from him for years,” she told the committee. “I also grew up watching my father abuse my mother in a textbook case of domestic violence and marital rape.”
Swadhin, according to reports, explained that she “lives with complex post-traumatic stress disorder and struggles everyday to be well” and was one of millions of sexual assault survivors who were triggered when Trump was recorded admitting to forcibly kissing and groping women.
Swadhin told NBC News that survivors had to know they would be believed and respected by law enforcement officials in order for them to feel comfortable enough to reach out for help.
“When issues of family violence come up in immigrant families, it can be difficult for victims to leave abusive situations because the community is so tight-knit,” she said.
She recalled her own family’s experience as Indian immigrants in New Jersey while discussing the cultural and social barriers many immigrants face when it comes to domestic violence and sexual abuse.
“The stigma in the Indian-American community against divorce was so high that at no point did my mother receive support or assistance from her family friends,” Swadhin said.
“The nature of this violence is often intergenerational and violence is a learned behaviour. There is no way we are going to be able to end sexual abuse if we treat it as a private matter and not a public health issue,” she added.
Rape and sexual assault survivors protested outside the office of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) on Monday, contending that President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for attorney general can’t be trusted to enforce the law when women’s rights are violated.
Women’s groups have roundly criticized Sessions for saying he didn’t think Trump’s comments about grabbing women by their genitals without consent described an act of sexual assault, and for voting against the Violence Against Women Act in 2013.
“We do not trust Sen. Jeff Sessions to tackle the epidemic of rape,” said Sophie, a sexual assault survivor who identified herself by her first name only. “If Jeff Sessions doesn’t know the definition of sexual assault, he should withdraw his name from nomination.”
The group delivered a poster with the Department of Justice’s definition of sexual assault printed on it.
UltraViolet, a national women’s advocacy group, organized the protest. More than 100,000 people have signed a petition from UltraViolet urging the Senate Judiciary Committee to reject Sessions’ appointment.
The National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence also opposes Sessions’ candidacy. The national coalition of organizations working to end domestic violence and sexual assault released an open letter last week, stating that the senator’s record suggests he won’t fairly enforce the law when it comes to historically marginalized groups.
“The role of Attorney General requires a demonstrated commitment to providing equal protection under the law—particularly to people who face discrimination because of their race, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability or other identities,” the group wrote. “Senator Sessions’ history leads us to question whether he will vigorously seek to ensure that all victims and survivors of gender-based violence, particularly vulnerable populations and those at the margins of society, have access to vitally needed services and legal protections.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee began confirmation hearings on Sessions’ appointment on Tuesday.
(This story has not been edited by BDC staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed from IANS.)