The tenor and trajectory of the sexual violence movement in the United States is indebted to the fearless organizers of the 1960’s that politicized the realm of what society deemed to be strictly personal. By doing so, the field of sexual violence embraced a human rights framework to oppose violence against women, with the intent of requiring action from communities and thereby changing the perception of sexual violence from an individual matter to a community problem and violation of human dignity.
It is crucial for us to recognize the tremendous discrepancy between accountability, one of the pillars that sustain the social justice movement, and the government’s inadequate and delayed response to the devastating impact violence has on current and future generations. A powerful step the federal government can take is to revisit, dialog and to pass the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) (S.2982, HR. 4594). Re-introduced earlier in 2010 by a bipartisan team of senators, the legislation aims to:
- Address violence against women and girls comprehensively, by supporting health, legal, economic, social and humanitarian assistance sectors and incorporating violence prevention and response best practices into such programs;
- Alleviate poverty and increase the cost effectiveness of foreign assistance by investing in women;
- Strengthen security by reducing social tensions;
- Support survivors, hold perpetrators accountable, and prevent violence;
- Create a 5 year strategy to fight violence against women in select countries which have a high incidence of violence against women;
- Define a clear mandate for Senior Officials in the Department of State and USAID for leadership, accountability and coordination in preventing and responding to violence against women and girls;
- Enable the U.S. government to develop a faster and more efficient response to violence against women in humanitarian emergencies and conflict-related situations;
- Build the effectiveness of overseas non-governmental organizations -particularly women’s nongovernment organizations – in addressing violence against women.
The I-VAWA is one example of how the U.S. can model the democratic principle of equality by investing in the care of its own people by actively working to eliminate violence as well as demonstrate solidarity with developing countries striving to do the same.
To learn more about I-VAWA, click here.