Bipartisan Legislation In House, Senate Targets Violence Against Women Worldwide

Members of the U.S. House and Senate on Thursday introduced the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA), a bill that “would make violence against women worldwide a priority of the United States government and an enhanced component of its foreign policy and foreign assistance programmes,” Inter Press Service reports (Fromm, 2/4). 

“The measure, which enjoys the backing of lawmakers from both major U.S. parties,” would allocate $175 million a year over five years “to go towards developing programs to combat violence against women in as many as 20 low-income countries where it is a serious problem,” Agence France-Presse reports.  The bill would “create a specialized office in the U.S. Agency for International Development and provide $40 million [each year for five years] to expand and modify emergency and humanitarian relief programs to address violence against women,” the news service writes.

Additionally, the legislation “would require that U.S. training of military and police forces overseas – an ongoing mission in places like Afghanistan and Iraq – include instruction on preventing violence against women and girls,” according to AFP (2/4).

“Societies where women are safe, where women are empowered to realize their aspirations and move their communities forward – are healthier and more stable societies,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.), a lead sponsor of the Senate bill, said in press release. Other lead sponsors of the legislation include Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine). In the House, Representatives Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.), Ted Poe (R-Texas), and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.). The release includes statements from these lead sponsors and a list of Senate co-sponsors (2/4).

“The legislation aims to improve legal and judicial protections and increase the capacity of the health-sector to respond to violence against women, sexual and gender-based violence,” according to IPS (2/4).

“If we are to effectively address the growing problem of sexual and gender-based violence, we need a comprehensive plan that involves interagency and multilateral partners and addresses all aspects of violence against women, from prevention to protection and prosecution of these cases,” State Department spokesman Phillip Crowley said in a statement supporting the goals of the IWAVA (2/4).

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