Dec 14, 2010
CONTACT Lisa Lederer

Passage by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Is Crucial Step in Advancing Legislation to Stop Global Epidemic of Violence Against Women and Girls

Broad-Based Coalition Hails Progress on International Violence Against Women Act, Urges House to Act Quickly So Legislation Can Be Passed This Year

This news release was issued by: Amnesty International USA; CARE; Family Violence Prevention Fund; Food for the Hungry; Global AIDS Alliance; International Center for Research on Women; Jewish Women International; National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the U.S.; Refugees International; Tahirih Justice Center; and Women Thrive Worldwide.


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Leading domestic and international women’s, violence prevention, human rights and development organizations today lauded the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for marking up the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) – bipartisan legislation (HR 4594/S 2982) that would, for the first time, make stopping violence against women and girls a priority in United States diplomacy and foreign aid. Senators John Kerry (D-MA), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) are leading the effort to pass the legislation in the Senate, and Representatives Bill Delahunt (D-MA), Ted Poe (R-TX) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) are championing it in the House of Representatives.

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.

“Recent reports of sexual abuse of women in resettlement camps in Haiti, and rape used as a weapon of war in the Congo, are chilling reminders of what is at stake,” said Family Violence Prevention Fund President and Founder Esta Soler. “This violence includes women being beaten by husbands and boyfriends, schoolgirls being burned with acid, refugees being forced to trade sex for food, and more. It worsens after wars, conflicts and natural disasters, and complicates efforts to recover and rebuild. To date, the U.S. response has been grossly inadequate. I-VAWA can change that. This is our best chance in years to pass this bill. The House must act quickly so we can get it done this year.”

“Violence against women and girls is a global epidemic,” said Ritu Sharma, Co-Founder and President of Women Thrive Worldwide. “Right now, we have a real opportunity to do something about this appalling problem which is a horrendous violation of women’s human rights. Violence 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. By passing I-VAWA this year, Congress can 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 International Violence Against Women Act takes a comprehensive, coordinated approach to preventing human rights violations against women and girls worldwide,” added Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International USA. “It is something we have been lacking until now. This bill can finally change that. We are grateful to every Senator and every Representative who is sponsoring and supporting this historic legislation. We will continue working until I-VAWA is the law of the land, and we are very hopeful that today’s mark-up will give it enough momentum for that to happen this year.”

I-VAWA has broad public support. Public opinion research conducted for the Family Violence Prevention Fund 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) support the bill, and six in ten (62 percent) express 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.

More information on the International Violence Against Women Act is available at An ad, which ran in Politico this summer and was sponsored by Women Thrive Worldwide and the Family Violence Prevention Fund, is here.

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Women Thrive Worldwide 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

The Tahirih Justice Center (Tahirih) is one of the nation’s foremost pro bono legal advocacy organizations for immigrant women and girls fleeing violence. Since opening its doors in 1997, through direct services and referrals, Tahirih has assisted nearly 11,000 women and children fleeing abuses such as domestic violence, sexual assault, rape, torture, human trafficking, female genital mutilation, “honor” crimes, and forced marriage. Tahirih also advocates for systemic change that will ensure the long-term protection of women and girls from violence. For more information, please visit

Refugees International advocates for lifesaving assistance and protection for displaced people and promotes solutions to displacement crises. For more information, visit

The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the U.S. is the elected council representing members of the Baha’i Faith in the 48 contingent states. With more than 5 million adherents worldwide, Baha'is view equality between the sexes and the full participation of women in every field of human endeavor as essential prerequisites to peace and human progress. To learn more, visit

Jewish Women International (JWI) is the leading Jewish organization empowering women and girls through economic literacy, community training, healthy relationships education, and the proliferation of women’s leadership. Our innovative programs, advocacy and philanthropic initiatives protect the fundamental rights of all girls and women to live in safe homes, thrive in healthy relationships, and realize the full potential of their personal strength. For more information, please visit or call 800.343.2823.

ICRW’s mission is to empower women, advance gender equality and fight poverty in the developing world. To accomplish this, ICRW works with partners to conduct empirical research, build capacity and advocate for evidence-based, practical ways to change policies and programs. To learn more, please visit

The Global AIDS Alliance seeks to mobilize a comprehensive and compassionate response to the global AIDS crisis while addressing the epidemic’s links to social justice issues such as poverty and gender inequity. We demand faster, bolder action and concrete results for people living with HIV/AIDS and at risk of HIV infection. For information, visit

Founded in 1971, Food for the Hungry is a Christian, faith-based relief and development organization in 26 countries around the world. FH walks with local, poor communities to facilitate sustainable development and provide emergency relief to holistically overcome all forms of human poverty. For more information, please visit

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

Founded in 1945, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. CARE places special focus on working alongside poor women because, equipped with the proper resources, women have the power to help whole families and entire communities escape poverty. Women are at the heart of CARE's community-based efforts to improve education, health and economic opportunity. To learn more, visit

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.2 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied. For more information, visit

NOTE: The results of the public opinion research are available here.

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