By Ramsey Cox
Senators on Thursday introduced a bipartisan bill aimed at expanding the protections in the Violence Against Women Act to people around the globe.
Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) are the lead sponsors of S. 2307, the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA).
“This act makes ending violence against women and girls a top diplomatic priority,” Collins said. “The practice of preventing women from attaining their full potential by targeting them for violence and early marriage is still unacceptably common. The International Violence Against Women Act ensures that the U.S. will take a leadership role in combating these problems.”
Lawmakers have grown increasingly upset over the incident in Nigeria, where the radical Islamist organization Boko Haram kidnapped nearly 300 girls from their school. The group opposes Western education of girls and has threatened to sell them into slavery.
“The recent kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian school girls underscores the horrific violence that too many women and girls across the globe face every day,” Boxer said. “The International Violence Against Women Act will make clear that ending discrimination and violence against women and girls is a top priority for the United States and central to our national security interests.”
The Senate passed a resolution condemning the actions of Boko Haram, and the administration pledged support to the Nigerian government to help locate and return the girls to their families.
The bill would require interagency coordination, regular congressional briefings and the development of a five-year U.S.-global strategy to respond to violence against women. It also would authorize U.S. assistance to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls internationally and require that least 10 percent of the assistance provided to nongovernmental organizations goes to groups led by women.
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) has introduced a companion bill in the House.