In honor of Human Rights Day, what follows below is part of a post by Human Rights Watch Researcher Amanda Klasing that appears on the HRW website and was also published on The Huffington Post. It concerns legislation now in Congress which would direct the State Department to make ending violence against women around the world a key part of its mission. The bill is known as the International Violence Against Women Act.

(See this link to The Milwaukee Courier for State Sen. Lena Taylor’s writing in support of the I-VAWA.)

From “Human Rights Day: US Should Support Victims of Violence Against Women” by Amanda Klasing:

“Today is Human Rights Day, but it also marks the end of the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence that began on November 25.

On November 21, appropriately in anticipation of these 16 days, US lawmakers re-introduced the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA). This piece of legislation plays an important role in raising the profile of violence against women globally, and it commits the US to do its part to help the world end this epidemic of abuse at home and abroad. It would institutionalize State Department posts dealing with ending violence against women and girls, making the issue a diplomatic priority. Women like Dolores who may never cross the mind of US or foreign officials would become an important focus.

Specifically, the bill directs the US government to put into effect the US Department of State and USAID strategy to prevent and respond to gender-based violence. In so doing, it recognizes that violence against women affects all parts of society, and seeks to address this violence through already allocated funding to various programs—including health, education and justice. For example, the I-VAWA emphasizes increasing access to justice for victims, and ensuring support for them throughout the legal process. It also gives priority to training police and the judiciary to help overcome societal biases and faithfully implement laws. By addressing the shortcomings in the way  laws that exist to protect women against violence are carried out, these critical steps  will help increase access to justice for women like Dolores who have found themselves mistreated, turned away, or otherwise unsupported by institutions that should be there to help.

Ending violence against women isn’t controversial, and the bill has the sponsorship of both Democrats and Republicans. On this Human Rights Day, stand in solidarity with victims of violence against women around the world. Encourage your member of Congress to support I-VAWA without reservation.”

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