Urge the United States House of Representatives, the United States Senate, and President Obama to pass the International Violence Against Women Act in the 112th session of congress.
What is International Violence Against Women Act?
The International Violence Against Women Act (H.R. 3571), sponsored by U.S. Representative Janice Schakowsky (D-IL 9), is a bill that creates a comprehensive, integrated approach to addressing violence and places women at the center of U.S. foreign policy. The bill supports measures to prevent violence, protect survivors and bring perpetrators to justice. It contains best practice provisions for preventing and responding to violence against women during times of peace and times of conflict.
An estimated 1 out of every 3 women throughout the world will be beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime.
Violence against women is an enormous problem that affects women and girls globally all around the world. It is a global health crisis, a human rights violation, a public health epidemic , and a moral outrage that knows no geographic or cultural barriers. It is also a barrier to solving global challenges such as extreme poverty, HIV/AIDS, armed conflict and terrorism.
Every year, globally millions of women and girls experience violence in their homes and in the community. Statistics show that one out of every three women globally has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime. According to Amnesty International, "Violence against women includes abuse by spouses or partners in the home, rape as a weapon during wartime, dowry related deaths and forced prostitution."
Rape and Sexual Assault
Rape and sexual assault against women and girls are used to torture, intimidate, and terrorize women and their communities.
In conflicts around the world, rape of women and girls has become one of the most horrific weapons of choice used systematically to attack civilians, devastate families and destabilize societies. Despite the recognition of rape as a war crime, a crime against humanity and a form of genocide, over the years the brutality and frequency of this crime has only increased. Rape is a highly destructive weapon that is cheaper than bullets or bombs and increasingly widespread.
- 20,000 to 50,000 women and girls raped during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the early 1990s
- 250,000 to 500,000 women and girls raped during the Rwandan genocide in 1994
- Hundreds of thousands (an average of 40 per day) of women or girls raped in South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo, since 2002.
-Sexual violence among adolescents and pre-adolescents is alarmingly high. In 2010, the first nationally representative survey of violenceagainst children in Tanzania found that nearly 3 in 10 females and 1 in 7 males experienced sexual violence prior to the age of 18.
-Prevalence of sexual violence is higher among persons with disabilities, particularly for adolescents and intimate partners with disabilities, and for men and women with intellectual impairments living in institutions.
-Displaced, refugee, and stateless women and girls in humanitarian emergencies, conflict settings, and natural disasters face extreme violence and threats, including-- (A) being forced to exchange sex for food and humanitarian supplies; and (B) being at increased risk of rape, sexual exploitation, and abuse.
-Domestic violence is the most prevalent form of violenceagainstwomen and prevents women from playing more active roles in the social, economic, and political development of their communities. In humanitarian crises, this global scourge becomes acute, preventing women from helping to rebuild their countries.
-Up to 70 percent of women in some countries report having been victims of domestic violence at some stage in their lives.
-The International Men and Gender Equality Survey dataset shows that adult male respondents in 6 countries who had experienced violence as children were significantly more likely to report perpetrating intimate partner violence themselves than their peers who did not experience violence as children.
Trafficking in Women and Girls
Millions of people every year are trafficked internationally into modern slavery including horrific conditions of sexual exploitation or shocking forced labor conditions. The Department of State’s Trafficking in Person’s Report for 2010 notes that traffickers “often use sexual violence as a weapon against women to keep them in compelled service, whether in a field, a factory, a brothel, a home, or a war zone.”
Women and girls are especially vulnerable to trafficking. Lack of access to education, persistent discrimination, economic hardship and poverty often contribute to create conditions where women and girls are disproportionately affected by trafficking. Under such conditions women and girls are lured through false promises of good working conditions at relatively high paying jobs or in some cases girls are sold by poor families, only to find themselves caught in a net of sexual exploitation or forced or bonded labor.
Violence against women devastates the lives of millions of women and girls and in peacetime and in conflict. It also causes them terrible suffering and leaves them with emotional and physical injuries, and sometimes even costing them their lives.
In addition, it also affects families, communities and wider societies, preventing women from taking full advantage of economic and educational opportunities and threatening security by increasing social tensions. Violence against women also prevents women from going to work, participating in community life, and accessing economic and educational opportunities to create better lives for themselves and their families.
Also, violence against women dramatically impedes progress in meeting all of our global health goals, including efforts to stem maternal mortality and the spread of HIV/AIDS. Approximately 1 in 4 women are abused during pregnancy, which, according to the World Health Organization, has been linked to miscarriage, pre-term labor, low birth weight, fetal distress, and death. Women who have experienced violence are also at higher risk for contracting HIV, and women living with HIV may be up to 3 times more likely to experience violence than other women. Fear of violence also prevents women from accessing HIV/AIDS information and receiving treatment and counseling.
The goal of the International Violence Against Women Act is to significantly reduce violence against women and girls globally by integrating anti-violence work across U.S. foreign assistance programs and make ending violence against women and girls a diplomatic priority. It is a major step in the effort to end violence against women and girls across the globe.
What will the International Violence Against Women Act do?
The International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) will integrate anti-violence work across U.S. foreign assistance programs and make ending violence against women and girls a diplomatic priority. I-VAWA would also "(1) Incorporate best practices on addressing violence against women into programs that provide health care, encourage legal reform and changes in public attitudes, promote access to economic opportunity projects and safe schools, and prevent violence in selected countries. (2) Build the effectiveness of overseas non-governmental organizations - particularly women's nongovernmental organizations - in addressing violence against women. (3) Create U.S. leadership to address violence against women and girls and make prevention of violence a greater U.S. diplomatic priority. (4) Require the U.S. government to respond to violence against women in conflict and crisis situations."
The International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) creates a comprehensive, integrated approach to addressing violence and places women at the center of U.S. foreign policy. The bill supports measures to prevent violence, protect survivors and bring perpetrators to justice. It contains best practice provisions for preventing and responding to violence against women during times of peace and times of conflict.
Under the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA), it would;
-Address violence against women and girls comprehensively, by supporting health, legal, economic, social, and humanitarian assistance sectors and incorporating violence prevention and response best practices into such programs.
-Alleviate poverty and increase the cost effectiveness of foreign assistance by investing in women.
-Strengthen security by reducing social tensions.
-Support survivors, hold perpetrators accountable, and prevent violence.
-Create a five-year strategy to fight violence against women in select countries which have a high incidence of violence against women.
-Define a clear mandate for Senior Officials in the Department of State and USAID for leadership, accountability and coordination in preventing and responding to violence against women and girls.
-Enable the U.S. government to develop a faster and more efficient response to violence against women in humanitarian emergencies and conflict-related situations.
-Build the effectiveness of overseas non-governmental organizations - particularly women's non-governmental organizations - in addressing violence against women.
It would also direct;
-the Secretary of State to establish an Office of Global Women's Issues which shall be headed by an Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues.
-the Ambassador-at-Large to coordinate U.S. government efforts regarding gender integration and advancing the status of women and girls in U.S. foreign policy.
-the Ambassador-at-Large to develop or update annually for six years a U.S. global strategy to prevent and respond to violenceagainstwomen and girls.
-in the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) a Senior Coordinator for Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment who shall direct USAID activities, policies, programs, and funding relating to gender equality and women's empowerment.
-the Secretary and the Administrator of USAID to provide assistance to prevent and respond to violenceagainstwomen and girls internationally.<!-- end id:content -->
What can you do to get the International Violence Against Women Act passed?
Please write to and/or call your U.S. Representatives and Senators and President Obama tell them to pass the International Violence Against Women Act . Also ask your U.S. Representatives and Senators to co-sponsor the International Violence Against Women Act.
Also please sign the online petition below.
Globally, it is estimated that one out of every three women will be beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused over the course of her lifetime, with rates of domestic violence reaching up to 71% in some countries. Somewhere a woman is raped, beaten, killed by her husband, trafficked or forced to trade sex for food every day.
I believe that efforts to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls should be a top priority in U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance programs. Not only is violence against women and girls a gross human rights violation, it is also a public health epidemic and a barrier to solving global challenges such as extreme poverty, HIV/AIDS, armed conflict and terrorism.
The International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) supports innovative programs, which have been shown to effectively decrease acts of violence and support survivors. Many of these programs help women and girls do things we so often take for granted: go to school, earn an income to take care of their families, collect food or water without fear of rape and bring perpetrators of abuse to justice. I-VAWA will increase the efficiency and effectiveness of existing U.S. foreign policy to end and respond to violence against women and girls around the world.
When implemented, I-VAWA would help put an end to the fear, pain and suffering experienced by countless women and girls globally. Please use your leadership role to help facilitate the progress of this important legislation through Congress.
Therefore, I ask that the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate please vote yes when this bill comes before committee and the floor, and to co-sponsor this legislation. Finally, I ask that President Obama sign it into law.
I thank you for your attention.