The following started life as a 250 word essay for a graduate school application, but I wanted to share it here as well. It’s been lightly edited to suit this new context. TW for mentions of human trafficking and sexual assault, within a legal context.
The Third Amendment is the women’s amendment. In the Bill of Rights it is the first one to explicitly protect rights traditionally held by women. At a time when few women wrote in newspapers, pressed their grievances in public fora, exercised faiths different from those of their fathers or bore arms, the right to be safe from squatting soldiers kicked at the heart of Colonial women’s roles.
Far from protecting women, the remaining amendments can make prosecutions of crimes against women more difficult, demanding kinds of evidence and testimony that can be prohibitively difficult to produce. In my time working to end human trafficking, I have seen prosecutions fall apart when terrified, mind-warped victims were unable to testify against their abusers or prove they said “no” beyond a reasonable doubt.
This is not because the Founding Fathers wanted rapists to go free or traffickers who throw boiling water on their maids to avoid prison. It is because the Founding Fathers likely had never been raped, never been beaten and then expected to go and sleep in the beds of their abusers. They did not have the experience necessary to know that there are some crimes that are real and terrible, but for which there is often little proof.
There must be a way to protect women and bring to justice those that systemically, constantly, and freely abuse them and at the same time maintain our other inalienable rights. For us to achieve our full rights as people, there must be.
“No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.”–Amendment 3, U.S. Constitution