Congress Must Act to End the Global Wave of Violence Against Women and Girls

In wake of kidnapping of Nigerian girls, Jewish human rights organization lauds Senate introduction of International Violence Against Women Act

WASHINGTON, DC — Congress must act swiftly to strengthen policies aimed at ending violence against women and girls worldwide, a crisis underlined by the recent kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria. In the wake of the kidnappings, American Jewish World Service (AJWS) urged Congress to move quickly to pass the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA), which was introduced in the U.S. Senate today.

AJWS, the leading Jewish international human rights and development organization, praised today’s bipartisan introduction of IVAWA by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). The bill was reintroduced in the House last year.

Ruth Messinger, president of AJWS, lauded the introduction of IVAWA and called for the U.S. to do all it can to defend women and girls from a global wave of violence.

“The cruel and unconscionable kidnapping of more than two hundred girls in Nigeria by terrorists has captured the attention of the world and made it crystal clear that Congress must do all it can to strengthen policies aimed at ending the global wave of violence against women and girls by passing the International Violence Against Women Act.

“On Tuesday, May 13, I am proud to be joining 135 other Jewish American activists from communities across the country on Capitol Hill to urge members of Congress to pass the International Violence Against Women Act. We must push our government to do all it can to stop this deadly epidemic of violence against women and girls worldwide.  We applaud Senators Boxer, Menendez, Kirk, Collins and Shaheen for understanding the gravity of this threat and standing up for the rights of women and girls by introducing this critical piece of legislation in the Senate.

“As Jews, we understand all too well the injustice of violence motivated by hatred, and we will not remain silent as women and girls are attacked by people and movements that aim to eradicate their rights and diminish their dignity,” Messinger said.

Last year, AJWS launched a new national advocacy campaign, We Believe, 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. The first initiative of AJWS’s new campaign is to work 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, I-VAWA would:

  • Direct the U.S. government to implement its strategy to reduce violence against women and girls in at least five countries
  • Make ending violence against women and girls a top diplomatic priority, and make the Office of Global Women’s Issues in the State Department permanent
  • Promote legal protection for women and girls who survive violence
  • Increase the capacity of the health care sector worldwide to address violence against women and girls by integrating such care into existing health programs
  • Promote public awareness campaigns to change the attitudes that perpetuate violence against women and girls
  • Support programs to reduce women and girls’ vulnerability to violence by improving their economic status and educational opportunities

About AJWS and its Grantees Focused on Women and Girls
AJWS supports social justice organizations in 19 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean that promote equality and work to end discrimination and violence against women and girls so that they can access the full spectrum of opportunities in society and live in health, safety and dignity.

Here are three examples of the work of AJWS’s grantees:

Kenya: Fortress of Hope helps girls develop leadership skills and implement their own strategies to stop violence. It works to help them stay in school, avoid domestic abuse and prevent unwanted pregnancy or infection with HIV.

India: Awaaz-e-Niswaan provides a haven where girls can meet peers and learn to understand and defend their rights. It also provides girls with college scholarships, vocational training and assistance in finding jobs to help them gain financial independence. This enables them to have greater choice in whether or not to marry and to leave abusive situations.

Nicaragua: Association of Entrepreneurial Women of Waslala (AMEWAS) seeks to decrease violence against women, girls and youth by educating women about their rights, promoting gender equality and expanding women’s access to the judicial system. AMEWAS’s work supporting women and girls can be seen in this video.

For More Information

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