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Online effort mounted to ask Congress to support International Violence Against Women Act

By Miriam Raftery

November 26, 2013 (Washington D.C.) – Yesterday was officially the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women.  To mark the occasion, the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA)  has been introduced into Congress last week—for the third time. 

“Gender-based violence remains an epidemic of global proportions that cuts across every social and economic class, ethnicity, race, religion and education level,” Secretary of State John Kerry stated yesterday.  “In fact, nearly one-third of women worldwide have experienced some form of physical or sexual violence. This is an unacceptable statistic and must be a wake-up call.”

The IVAWA seeks to make ending violence against women a diplomatic priority for the U.S. and serve as a model for other countries to follow.  It would support survivors and programs that hold perpetrators accountable as well as programs to prevent violence.   The measure does not seek new funds, but merely affirms policies on how U.S. foreign aid dollars should and should not be spent. 

Twice before, IVAWA was introduced in Congress but failed to win passage, largely due to opposition by Republicans.  This time, a bipartisan group of House representatives have reintroduced the measure including Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Richard Hanna (R-NY) , Nita Lowey (D-NY), Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL)and Chris Gibson (R-NY). 

Globally, violence against women can take horrific forms, including the sexual trafficking of children, forced child marriage, burning of widows, and more.

In the U.S. the good news is that violence against women fell 6$ in the past decade, according to the U.S. Justice Department.  But violence against women remains a serious problem in our country. In 2010, 270,000 rapes or sexual assaults occurred against women and girls, according to the Justice Department.  Girls ages 16 to 19 are more than four times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape or sexual assault, according to the Justice Department.

A  National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey conducted in 2010 suggests even higher numbers; it found that 22 million women in the U.S. have been raped in their lifetime and  that nearly one in five U.S. women have survived a completed or attempted rape.  Of those, 12.3% were under age 12.  

An online drive has been started by Futures Without Violence to urge members of Congress to support the  International Violence Against Women Act.

 You can send an e-mail to your Congressional representatives here asking them to support IVAWA:

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