Congress Must Follow White House’s Lead and Take Action to Combat Violence Against Women and Girls Worldwide

American Jewish World Service applauds the White House’s guidelines on campus rape, urges Congress to pass International Violence Against Women Act to tackle gender-based violence globally

NEW YORK, NY – American Jewish World Service (AJWS), the leading Jewish international development and human rights organization, praised the Obama Administration today after the White House released new guidelines for colleges in the United States to address sexual assaults on campus and called on Congress to pass the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA) to address the rape epidemic worldwide.

“I applaud President Obama for taking a strong and principled stand against violence against women on our college campuses and for his administration’s indefatigable efforts on behalf of women and girls around the world,” said Ruth Messinger, president of AJWS. “Sexual assaults on our college campuses amount to an epidemic, and similar violent attacks are devastating millions of women and girls worldwide. Internationally, one in three women is abused, beaten or raped during her lifetime. We cannot stand idly by as this widespread violation of human rights rages on.

“Our government has made great strides in protecting women and girls in this country from violence, as evidenced by last year’s passage of the domestic Violence Against Women Act and the 2012 launch by the Department of State of the U.S. Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence Globally. Now, Congress must follow suit and pass the International Violence Against Women Act.

“I commend Representatives Schakowsky, Lowey, Wasserman Schultz, Engel, Gibson and Hanna for introducing this important bipartisan piece of legislation in the House of Representatives and thank the 57 cosponsors for supporting the bill. We implore Congress to make the passage of IVAWA a top priority to ensure that our efforts to address gender-based violence stretch beyond the boundaries of the United States. We have a responsibility to make sure that every girl and woman lives free of violence and fear,” continued Messinger.

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 was reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives last year. As the law of the land, IVAWA would, for the first time, codify a comprehensive approach by the U.S. to fight violence against women and girls internationally.

Specifically, 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 development sector worldwide to address violence against women and girls by integrating such care into existing health, education and economic 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 education opportunities

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