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Feminist News


October-23-09

House Committee on Foreign Affairs Holds Hearing on International Violence Against Women Act

The US House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights and Oversight held a hearing Wednesday to examine international violence against women and solutions. Women's rights activists are currently seeking the re-introduction of the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA).

Melanne Verveer, the United State's first Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues, testified at the hearing. Among her remarks (see PDF) Verveer said, "violence against women cannot be relegated to the margins of foreign policy. It cannot be treated solely as a "women's issue," as something that can wait until "more pressing" issues are solved. The scale and the scope of the problem make it simultaneously one of the largest and most entrenched humanitarian and development issues before us; they also make it a security issue. When women are attacked as part of a deliberate and coordinated strategy, as they are in Sudan, the DRC and, most recently, Guinea, and as they are and have been in elsewhere around the world, the glue that holds together communities dissolves. Large populations become not only displaced, but destabilized. Around the world, the places that are the most dangerous for women also pose the greatest threats to international peace and security. The correlation is clear: where women are oppressed, governance is weak and terrorists are more likely to take hold."

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee also held a hearing earlier this month that addressed the re-introduction of I-VAWA. IVAWA was originally drafted by then-senator Joe Biden (D-VP) and Richard Lugar (R-IN) in collaboration with over 40 women's groups and 100 non-governmental organizations across the planet. According to Amnesty International (see PDF), the bill would centralize women-related state departments into one office; create a five-year strategy to fight domestic violence in 10 to 20 countries and back it up with funds; and require training in emergency measures for organizations working with populations susceptible to violence.

Media Resources: United States House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs 10/21/09; Melanne Verveer Statement 10/21/09; Amnesty International IVAWA Summary