Congress should address violence against women


Every day, women and girls are beaten, raped and killed worldwide just because of their gender.  It’s estimated one of every three women will be physically, sexually or otherwise abused during her lifetime, with rates reaching 70 percent in some countries.

The good news is violence against women is preventable, and there are thousands of organizations around the world working to end violence in their own communities. Congress is now poised to help their efforts through the bipartisan International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) sponsored by Reps. Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.), Ted PoeTed PoeHouse bill threatens Russia with nuclear treaty suspension For the sake of police, don’t back the Back the Blue Act Will McConnell and Ryan put party over country in defense of Trump? MORE (R-Texas) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Sens. John KerryJohn KerrySpeaker Ryan, the fate of our policy toward Russia rests in your hands Frustrated Dems say Obama botched Russia response Budowsky: Dems madder than hell MORE (D-Mass.) Barbara BoxerBarbara BoxerTime is now to address infrastructure needs Tom Steyer testing waters for Calif. gubernatorial bid Another day, another dollar for retirement advice rip-offs MORE (D-Calif.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Susan CollinsSusan CollinsNew CBO analysis imperils GOP ObamaCare repeal Three GOP senators to vote against taking up healthcare bill without changes Is Senate ObamaCare repeal bill too mean? MORE (R-Maine). 

I-VAWA integrates helping survivors and preventing violence into U.S. assistance programs that provide healthcare, education and economic opportunity while promoting legal reform and social change in developing countries.

I-VAWA also makes ending violence against women a diplomatic priority for the first time in U.S. history, and urges the U.S. government to respond to critical outbreaks of gender-based violence in armed conflict  within six months.  

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I-VAWA, which is supported by a coalition of more than 200 U.S. and overseas nongovernmental organizations, is set to be marked up by the House Foreign Affairs Committee soon.
It has strong public support: A recent poll by Women Thrive and the Family Violence Prevention Fund found more than 60 percent of Americans across demographic and partisan lines think ending gender-based violence should be a top foreign policy priority, and more than 80 percent support I-VAWA. 

Passing I-VAWA would help remove a major barrier preventing women and girls from getting an education, working and pulling themselves and their families out of poverty. It would also ensure the money the U.S. spends on national security, development and peacebuilding in places like Afghanistan would be that much more effective. Twenty-nine Senators and nearly 100 Representatives have co-sponsored the bill. It’s time for Congress to step up and pass I-VAWA as soon as possible, because women have waited long enough.

Ritu Sharma, Co-Founder and President, Women Thrive Worldwide, Washington, D.C.