Washington, D.C. – Today Democratic Reps. Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Nita Lowey (NY-17), Eliot Engel (NY-16) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23) and Republicans Reps. Richard Hanna (NY-22) and Chris Gibson (NY-19) introduced H.R. 3571 International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA).

“Violence against women is a humanitarian tragedy, a vicious crime, a global health catastrophe, a roadblock to social and economic development and a threat to national security,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky. “When I traveled to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, I learned how rape was used for over a decade as a low-cost, low-tech, and horrifically effective weapon of war. Sexual violence has been systematically used to destroy communities and to instill a sense of despair and hopelessness within a population. IVAWA would make ending violence against women a U.S. foreign policy priority, promote health programs and survivor services, civil and criminal legal protections, educational opportunities and promotion of economic opportunities for women and girls. Passage of IVAWA would give us critical tools in the fight against gender-based violence around the world.”

“Every day and in every nation, women are victims of violence. Today we say no more,” said Rep. Nita Lowey, Ranking Member on the House Appropriations Committee. “Violence not only makes it harder for women to lead a healthy, safe, and productive life, this shameful scourge reverberates through every level of society and erodes stability, prosperity, and democracy. That is why addressing violence against women and girls must be a priority of the United States. We must pass IVAWA to take real and meaningful steps toward protecting women, reducing poverty, and promoting economic development and stability around the world.”

"Gender-based violence hurts women every day around the world,” said Rep. Richard Hanna. “Today, we send a message to people everywhere that it is unacceptable. One in three women currently suffer gender-based violence, and we cannot be silent in the fight to end such abuse and repression. I commend the work and accomplishments that have been achieved to date by the Department of State and USAID and I look forward to such work continuing as a permanent fixture of our nation’s diplomacy. There is still much work to be done, and as a beacon of freedom and opportunity for all people, the United States must continue to play a leading role in this effort."

“Preventing violence against women and girls around the world should be an important U.S. foreign policy priority,” said Rep. Eliot Engel, Ranking Member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “We are talking about an epidemic of violence – with one in three women around the world likely to be subject to some form of abuse during her life. It’s clear to me that we need a coherent strategy for ensuring that our diplomatic and development efforts are more focused on preventing gender-based violence. I hope that this legislation will provide such a roadmap -- and other tools – to help empower women and girls and prevent a new generation from becoming victims of abuse.”

“After several combat, peacekeeping, and humanitarian tours overseas while serving in the United States Army, including to Iraq, Kosovo, and Haiti, one of the most significant international human rights issues that I saw is the prevalence of violence and discrimination against women and girls,” said Rep. Chris Gibson. “I am confident that this good government bill will go a long way to streamlining and effectively coordinating all U.S. efforts to reduce violence, electoral suppression, abuse, and other discriminatory actions that disproportionately affect women and girls.”

“We know that one in three women will experience abuse in her lifetime, meaning -shockingly- that one billion women alive today have experienced abuse,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. “We must fight to liberate these women and girls from the shackles of bondage—both physical and figurative—that keep them from freedom. We must acknowledge that violence perpetrated against any woman, anywhere, impacts all women, everywhere. For women to be free, we must pass the International Violence Against Women Act and work tirelessly wherever we can to support global health, education, political participation, and women’s empowerment.”