It’s long past time for Congress to do something about violence against women

By Tarah Demant, Director, Gender, Sexuality, and Identity Program, Amnesty International USA

It’s a statistic repeated so often it may have lost its shock value, but it should be a repeated shock, and outrage, to hear that one in three women globally will be beaten, raped, or otherwise experience violence in her lifetime. One in three. In some places in the world, it’s more than 70%. Imagine a world in which we allow this to happen with such regularity. Now look around: we’re in that world. Now look at Congress: what are they doing about it?

Violence against women and girls is a global epidemic and a human rights crisis. While living free from violence is a basic human right, millions of women and girls suffer disproportionately from violence and are often targeted for violence simply because of their gender.

Time and time again, the world has been horrified by brutal violence against school girls kidnapped in Chibok, Nigeria; or against refugee women already fleeing violence in Myanmar; or against women and girls fleeing violence in Central America, and who face a journey north where rape is so common that many women take contraceptives to prevent getting pregnant from rape they know is likely.

Yet, despite these stories we hear from survivors, despite the fear far too many women and girls face daily, Congress has yet to pass comprehensive legislation to help end the violence taking place every day against women and girls in every corner of the globe.

Violence against women is a human rights violation and public health issue, and ending violence against women should be a top U.S. priority.

A bipartisan group of Senators has introduced the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA), a bill that takes a multifaceted approach to violence against women. It makes ending violence against women globally a U.S. foreign policy priority and ensures the U.S.’s work is smart and effective — what’s more, it will not require any extra funding.

IVAWA will:

• Establish a clear Global Strategy on how to combat violence against women and girls

• Make the Office of Global Women’s Issues a permanent fixture in the State Department, to direct U.S. foreign policy in relation to gender

• Develop Country Plans which will be comprehensive as to how violence will be addressed in each country

• Lead to regular reports and briefs for Congress on violence against women and U.S. efforts to prevent it

Amnesty International USA has joined with a diverse group of NGOs who are calling for the swift passage of IVAWA. It’s good foreign policy; it’s effective, better government; and it’s the right thing to do.

This week begins our 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. Join us and demand Congress do something to end violence against women — it’s long past time.

We've been fighting the bad guys since 1961 - you can join us! Official Amnesty International USA profile.

We've been fighting the bad guys since 1961 - you can join us! Official Amnesty International USA profile.