Urges Congress to respond to global epidemic of violence against women and girls
Washington, D.C. — Congress must act swiftly to stop the intensifying worldwide wave of violence against women and girls, including the targeting of women and girls by ISIS and Boko Haram and escalating sexual violence in India, the Democratic Republic of Congo and other countries. As we witness these and other horrific acts of violence against women and girls, American Jewish World Service (AJWS) urges Congress to pass the bipartisan International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA), which was reintroduced today in the U.S. Senate and last week in the House of Representatives.
AJWS, the leading Jewish international development and human rights organization, praises the bipartisan introduction of IVAWA by its lead co-sponsors Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Susan Collins (R-ME), and by Representatives Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-09) and Chris Gibson (R-NY-19).
“We cannot rest until every woman and girl around the world is protected against unconscionable acts of violence by groups like Boko Haram, and we praise bipartisan leaders of Congress for joining together to demand action,” said Ruth Messinger, president of AJWS. “We must do all we can to stop this deadly global epidemic of violence against women and girls, and passing the International Violence Against Women Act is an important step forward to making this a priority for the United States government. We applaud the senators and representatives introducing this critical piece of bipartisan legislation for understanding the gravity of this threat and standing up to protect women and girls.
“As Jews, we understand all too well how Jewish women were violently assaulted during some of the darkest hours of our people’s history, and we will not remain silent as women and girls anywhere are attacked by people and movements that aim to trample their dignity and eradicate their rights,” added Messinger.
“We are encouraged by the broad bipartisan support for IVAWA, including from Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Representatives Susan Brooks (R-IN-5), Chris, Collins (R-NY-27), Jeff Denham (R-CA-10), Ted Deutch (D-FL-19), Eliot Engel (D-NY-16), Richard Hanna (R-NY-22), Denny Heck (R-WA-10), Leonard Lance (R-NJ-7), Nita Lowey (D-NY-17), Pat Meehan (R-PA-7), Gwen Moore (D-WI-4), Aaron Schock (R-IL-18), and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL-23),” added Messinger.
AJWS is advocating for the passage of IVAWA as part of We Believe, a national campaign calling on the U.S. government to do all it can to help end violence against women and girls, stop hate crimes against LGBT people and empower girls to end child marriage. A cornerstone of the We Believe campaign is working for the passage of IVAWA, which would, for the first time, codify a comprehensive approach by the U.S. to fight violence against women and girls internationally.
If passed, IVAWA would:
- Improve the effectiveness of U.S. aid by codifying the U.S. Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence and the Office of Global Women’s Issues at the State Department so that recent progress in cross-governmental coordination and efficiency is preserved
- Ensure that the U.S. government supports efforts to promote security and stability and puts in place mechanisms for preventing and responding to violence against women and girls during conflicts
- Enhance accountability by enabling Congressional oversight of programs by this and future administrations
- Require the State Department and USAID to apply rigorous monitoring and evaluation methodologies to ensure their programs, projects and activities to combat violence against women and girls are effective, and to report on the impact of their activities in preventing and reducing violence against women and girls globally
AJWS supports hundreds of social justice organizations in 19 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean that work to empower women and girls, stop violence and address larger issues of discrimination, poverty and human rights violations that increase rates of violence in homes and communities. Through this work, we strive to enable women and girls to access the full spectrum of opportunities in society and live in health, safety and dignity.
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David L. Marcus