On 15 February 2018, the US House of Representatives re-introduced the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA), sponsored by Representative Schakowsky along with 72 other co-sponsors. This follows the November 2017 re-introduction of I-VAWA as a bi-partisan bill by the Senate. I-VAWA was first introduced in the US Congress in 2007, but efforts to pass the law have failed for over a decade despite the bill being repeatedly re-introduced. The current climate, with growing awareness of and strong opposition to violence against women, presents an ideal opportunity to pass I-VAWA and take a crucial step towards ending violence against women and girls globally.
Gender-based violence is a global problem and the numbers are staggering:
- One in three women will face physical, mental or sexual abuse in their lifetimes.
- Each year, around 3 million girls and women – or some 8,000 girls each day – face the risk of female genital mutilation. An estimated 200 million girls have already been subjected to the practice.
- Worldwide, almost 750 million women and girls alive today were married before their 18th birthday. Nearly 39,000 girls under the age of 18 are still married each day.
- In some countries, as many as 30 percent of women report that their first sexual experience was coerced or forced. The younger a woman was at the time of sexual initiation, the higher the chance that it was violent.
- One billion women and girls are affected by violence, including rape, domestic violence, acid burning, dowry-deaths, “honor” killings, human trafficking, female genital mutilation, "child marriage" and other harmful practices.
- Violent extremism is on the rise and it places the subordination of women at the center of the ideology and war tactics - mass rape is often used as a weapon of war.
How does I-VAWA help?
I-VAWA is legislation that will reinforce on-the-ground efforts around the world to reduce violence against women and girls. The legislation focuses on establishing and supporting laws and legal structures that help prevent and appropriately respond to all forms of violence; preventing violence by changing community norms and attitudes; and reducing women and girls’ vulnerability to violence by improving their economic and educational opportunities in environments that are free from sexual coercion and assault. This legislation will renew America's commitment to ensuring that the world is a safer place for women and girls.
Now more than ever, women and girls deserve a chance to live lives free from violence. Equality Now, along with its partners in the Coalition to End Violence Against Women and Girls Globally, call on Congress to swiftly consider and pass I-VAWA to empower women and girls, along with their communities and nations, to end the violence.
Dear Senator / Representative [name]:
I urge you to co-sponsor the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) in 2018.
Gender-based violence is widely prevalent around the globe, with an estimated 1 in 3 women facing physical, mental or sexual abuse in their lifetimes. Every day, women and girls around the world are beaten and abused, forced to trade sex for food or school fees and are subjected to female genital mutilation and child marriage. All too often these violent crimes are not prosecuted and, as a result, they are socially accepted and tolerated.
The American public is behind ending violence against women and girls -- a human rights violation and global health crisis and that contributes to instability and insecurity throughout our world. A 2009 poll found that 61 percent of voters across demographic and political lines think violence against women and girls should be one of the top international priorities for the US government, and 82 percent supported the I-VAWA.
I am asking you to stand up for women and girls and help pass the International Violence Against Women Act.
This bill supports innovative, cost-effective programs that have been shown to decrease acts of violence. Many of these programs help women and girls do things we so often take for granted: go to school, earn an income to sustain families, collect food or water without fear of rape or harassment, and bring perpetrators of abuse to justice. The I-VAWA will also streamline and improve existing U.S. programs to end violence against women – increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of our international assistance.
Protecting and promoting the rights of women and girls is key to global development and effective foreign policy. Please help change the lives of millions of women and girls by co-sponsoring the I-VAWA.