“Her Eyes Will See So Much”
Powerful New Ad Urges Congress to Pass International Violence Against Women Act; Leading Women’s, Violence Prevention, Human Rights, Development Groups Push Legislation This Year
WASHINGTON, D.C. – At a time when the United Nations estimates that one out of every three women worldwide will be physically, sexually or otherwise abused in her lifetime, the Family Violence Prevention Fund (FVPF) and Women Thrive Worldwide have begun running powerful print and banner ads in Politico to urge Congress to pass the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) this year. The bipartisan legislation (HR 4594/S 2982) was introduced on February 4. It would, for the first time, make stopping violence against women and girls a priority in United States diplomacy and foreign aid. Widespread reports of sexual abuse of women in resettlement camps in Haiti, and rape used as a weapon of war in the Congo, have brought attention to violence against women in recent months.
The ad, which depicts a somber young woman, says:
“Her Eyes Will See So Much.
An aunt brutally punished for being RAPED.
A friend forced into PROSTITUTION.
A cousin SOLD INTO MARRIAGE at age 12.
A sister BURNED WITH ACID for going to school.
Don’t turn your back on her.
Pass the International Violence Against Women Act, so she can see a world free of violence against girls and women.”
It thanks the bill’s sponsors, Senators John Kerry, Barbara Boxer, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe; and Representatives Bill Delahunt, Ted Poe and Jan Schakowsky.
I-VAWA has support from a broad-based coalition of leading international and domestic women’s, violence prevention, human rights and development organizations, all of whom are calling on Congress to mark-up and vote on the legislation in coming weeks. “Brutal acts of violence against women and girls occur every single day across the globe,” said FVPF President and Founder Esta Soler. “It is a worldwide epidemic that takes many forms, from women being beaten by husbands, to girls being raped or burned, to refugees being forced to trade sex for food. It worsens after natural disasters and conflicts, and complicates efforts to recover and rebuild. To date, the U.S. response has been inadequate. I-VAWA can change that. Lawmakers can make a difference right now.”
“We have a real opportunity to do something about this appalling problem which is a horrendous violation of women’s human rights,” said Ritu Sharma, Co-Founder and President of Women Thrive Worldwide. “Violence against women affects all aspects of women’s lives, from their personal health and safety to their ability to earn a living and care for their families. We urge Congress to pass I-VAWA this year to show that the U.S. is fully prepared to invest in a safer future for women, which is the best way to ensure safety and security for all.”
The legislation has broad public support. Public opinion research conducted for the FVPF and Women Thrive Worldwide by Lake Research Partners 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) express support for the bill, and six in ten (62 percent) intense support. I-VAWA maintains salience with voters when compared to other foreign policy priorities like promoting democracy and trade, fighting corruption abroad, and reconstructing Iraq and Afghanistan.
The legislation 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 working to end violence in their own countries. It would also 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.
The United Nations Development Fund for Women estimates that one of every three women globally will be beaten, raped, or otherwise abused during her lifetime.
More information on the International Violence Against Women Act is available at www.PassIVAWA.org. A copy of the ad is here.
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Women Thrive Worldwide (formerly the Women's Edge Coalition) is the leading non-profit organization shaping U.S. policy to help women in developing countries lift themselves out of poverty. For more information, visit www.womenthrive.org.
The Family Violence Prevention Fund works to end violence against women and children around the world, because every person has the right to live free of violence. For more information, visit www.endabuse.org.
The results of the public opinion research are available here.