Key Senate Committee Passes I-VAWA

Key Senate Committee Passes <i>I-VAWA</i>

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA; HR 4594/S 2982) on December 14. This bipartisan legislation will establish a comprehensive, five-year strategy to stop violence against women and girls around the world. “This was a badly needed step to help stop this violence,” said Futures Without Violence, formerly Family Violence Prevention Fund, President Esta Soler.

“Every day brings chilling reminders of the brutality faced by women and girls around the world – from women being beaten by husbands, to schoolgirls being burned with acid, to refugees being forced to trade sex for food, to rape being used as a weapon of war, and more,” Soler added. “We applaud the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for today’s action. We need the full Senate and the House to bring this legislation to a very quick vote, so President Obama can sign this critical legislation into law this year.”

“Today, in passing the International Violence Against Women Act, the Committee spoke with a strong and decisive voice. This bill tells women and girls that that they are valued, respected members of society who do not have to suffer in silence. I-VAWA will use U.S. assistance wisely, bring greater transparency, and improve coordination inside the government and with key stakeholders in civil society. But more importantly, we are saying that now is the time for us to gather the resources and political will to turn I-VAWA’s promise into a reality for the millions of women and girls whose lives will be improved as a result of this critical legislation,” said Chairman John Kerry, who introduced the bill in February.

The White House also commended the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s action. In a blog post, White House Advisor on Violence Against Women Lynn Rosenthal called I-VAWA’s approval, “an important step towards improving women’s lives around the world.”

“It’s time – past time – to make stopping violence against women and girls worldwide a priority in America’s diplomacy and foreign aid,” Soler agreed. “We thank Senators John Kerry, Barbara Boxer, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins for their continuing work to pass this critical legislation. There is too much at stake, for our country and the world, to wait.”

The United Nations estimates that one out of every three women worldwide will be physically, sexually or otherwise abused in her lifetime.

I-VAWA would help end violence through prevention programs that help women and girls get an education or improve their economic opportunities; programs that support men and boys in being partners in ending violence; health and support programs for survivors; and legal and judicial training programs that work to hold abusers accountable. It would fund local community-based organizations that are working to end violence in their own countries. It would make the issue a diplomatic priority by requiring a U.S. response to outbreaks of gender-based violence – like mass rapes in the Congo – within six months.

I-VAWA has broad public support. Public opinion research conducted for Futures Without Violence and Women Thrive Worldwide last year found that the majority of voters (61 percent) say addressing global violence against women should be one of the top priorities for the U.S. government. Voters across demographic and party lines strongly support the legislation. Eight in ten (82 percent) support the bill, and six in ten (62 percent) express intense support.

Additional information on the International Violence Against Women Act is available here. An ad, which ran in Politico this summer and was sponsored by Women Thrive Worldwide and Futures Without Violence, is here.

More than 200 violence prevention, humanitarian, faith-based, human rights, refugee and women’s organizations are supporting the International Violence Against Women Act.

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