USA: USA to provide effective remedies to violence against women and girls with the introduction of I-VAWA

Press Release
February 5, 2010

USA: USA to provide effective remedies to violence against women and girls with the introduction of I-VAWA

USA to provide effective remedies to violence against women and girls with the introduction of I-VAWA

5 February 2010

(Washington, DC) -- Amnesty International USA today applauded the introduction of legislation to combat the global crisis of violence against women and girls. The International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) would for the first time make the epidemic of violence against women worldwide a priority of the United States government and integrate prevention strategies across foreign policy and assistance programs.

Amnesty International congratulates Senators John Kerry (D-MA), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Representatives Bill Delahunt (D-MA) and Ted Poe (R-TX) for their leadership in defending the human rights of women by introducing this important legislation. The Members of Congress will mark introduction at a public event in the Kennedy Caucus Room on Capitol Hill today.

“Violence devastates the lives of millions of women, girls and their families worldwide," said Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International USA. "We have seen the terrible consequences of mass rapes in the Congo and elsewhere, and we stand by the women’s human rights defenders who speak out against violence, often at great personal risk. Violence against women, whether in the home or in armed conflict, destabilizes communities, undermines economic development and perpetuates poverty and despair. I-VAWA is a comprehensive response to this endemic human rights abuse, and Amnesty International supports its passage in 2010."

Working through the international assistance that the United States already provides, this new bipartisan bill will support best practices against violence aimed at women and girls. It would expand the government’s ability to prevent violence against women caught in conflict, support non-governmental organizations that are combating violence on the ground, and put the United States unequivocally on the record with countries around the world in saying that ending violence against women and girls is a national priority.

I-VAWA will support innovative programs that have been shown to effectively reduce acts of violence. These include programs that create economic and educational opportunities for women, challenge public attitudes that permit violence, improve health services for survivors and bring perpetrators of violence to justice.

Women’s human rights defender and Amnesty International activist Irene Safi Turner from the Democratic Republic of Congo addressed the press conference. Turner has worked with victims of sexual violence and women affected by conflict. "The International Violence Against Women Act is an act of compassion and solidarity. The legislation will bring a sense of hope and purpose for thousands of Congolese women victims of violence who are traumatized and stigmatized by their community and discriminated against."

Longtime human rights activist Sir Patrick Stewart offered his support, noting a personal connection to the issue. "I support the International Violence Against Women Act, not only as an Amnesty International advocate opposing violence against women but also as an individual whose childhood was marred by domestic violence. This is a human rights issue, which blights millions of families and homes and takes its cruel toll behind closed doors. I commend the United States Congress for addressing this issue. This legislation will help women around the world to stop abuse, achieve justice and pursue their ambitions."

The legislation was designed by Amnesty International USA, Family Violence Prevention Fund and Women Thrive Worldwide with input from 40 international and 150 U.S.-based groups with relevant expertise.

Every year, violence devastates the lives of millions of women and girls globally. The United Nations Development Fund for Women estimates that at least one out of every three women worldwide has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime. Violence against women increases social tensions, stands in the way of economic progress, and prevents women from raising healthy children.

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.