The world is rightly focused on these atrocities. But there's also an outrage closer to home.
The safety of women in the United States also has been put at risk - by ideologues in Congress who refused to renew the Violence Against Women Act in 2012. It's the first time in the nearly two decades since the law took effect that it was allowed to lapse.
The law, propelled by then-Sen. Joseph Biden, created a national response to the crisis of domestic and sexual violence against women. The law provided hundreds of millions of dollars for rape-crisis centers and hot lines; for college counseling centers, community prevention programs and legal aid to victims; and for training and educating judicial, law-enforcement and social-service workers. It provided for tougher criminal penalties for repeat offenders and created a rape-shield law to prevent a woman's sexual history to be used against her in a rape trial.
Besides raising the country's collective consciousness to the prevalence of violence, the law has curtailed domestic-violence deaths by providing options for women who were trapped in violent relationships, stalked by abusers or left homeless when they tried to save themselves. In the first nine years after its enactment, nonfatal assaults were halved.
But as results from a 2010 survey illustrate, violence is still a serious problem: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that nearly one in five women surveyed said they had been raped or had experienced an attempted rape at some point, and one in four reported having been beaten by an intimate partner. One in six women have been stalked, according to the report.
The Violence Against Women Act has been reauthorized twice since its passage in 1994. But not this time.
This time, the Senate expanded its protections to Native American women, undocumented immigrants, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered women. And this time, ideologues in the House refused to agree to those expansions and passed its own exclusionary version, which the president vowed to veto. Even Vice President Biden's personal appeal to House leadership to place women's safety above ideological concerns failed to persuade Republicans to do the right thing. And so the law expired.
The assault on women here can result in violence every bit as savage as the incidents we've seen in Pakistan and India. The nation's effort to spare women threatened by domestic and sexual violence should never be hostage to politics. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told CNN last week that attempting to get the law renewed by the new Congress is "an early priority for us."
As it damn well should be.