WASHINGTON — A bipartisan group of representatives reintroduced the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA) in the House of Representatives today, with a similar bipartisan reintroduction scheduled for early next week in the Senate. Amnesty International USA urged lawmakers to support the bill and push for its quick passage, reaffirming the United States’ role as an important ally for millions of women worldwide whose right to live free from violence is under daily threat.
The bill’s reintroduction was scheduled in observance of International Women’s Day on March 8. While recognizing the United States has much work to do to address violence against women within its borders, IVAWA is international in scope and would ensure the U.S. government continues to have a coordinated strategy in place to make gender-based violence prevention and response across the world a top U.S. diplomatic and foreign assistance priority.
“Congress has the opportunity to say that when it comes to the global epidemic of violence against women, enough is enough,” said Steven W. Hawkins, executive director of Amnesty International USA. “Violence against women is unacceptable. This legislation is critical to helping stop violence from occurring in the first place and ensuring that women have access to justice and equality before the law when it does. The threats facing women and girls every day across the globe are very serious and very real. Congress needs to pass IVAWA quickly to help ensure that respect for women’s efforts to claim their rights is just as real.”
Despite the horrific attacks against women and girls in Nigeria, India and Iraq that have recently captured the world’s attention, and the fact that one in three women will experience physical or sexual violence in her lifetime, Congress has yet to pass comprehensive legislation to help put an end to the many forms of violence taking place every day against women and girls in every corner of the globe.
The U.S. government’s current strategy to address gender-based violence globally expires this summer, making it even more critical to pass IVAWA quickly and ensure a continuation of these critical efforts.
The bill was reintroduced in the House under the leadership of Representatives Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Chris Gibson (R-NY), and will be led in the Senate by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Mark Kirk (R-IL). IVAWA has the original co-sponsorship of 18 Members in the House, the highest bipartisan number in the bill’s history.