Friday, September 17, 2010

Gender Issues: Celebrities, faith leaders and survivors urge U.S. action to end global epidemic of violence against women

Actor and human rights advocate Samantha Mathis today joined a strong coalition of faith leaders, survivors and advocates on Capitol Hill to call for immediate U.S. action to help end violence against women and girls globally. Pointing to recent headline-making incidents in Iran where a woman may face stoning for alleged adultery, and in Afghanistan where a woman was recently mutilated for trying to flee abuse in her home, speakers at the Capitol Hill event urged passage of the pending International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA - H.R. 4594/S.2982) before the November elections.

"I experienced the tragic consequences of violence and came face to face with the horror of brutal murders of women when I traveled to Guatemala with Amnesty International and met with the family members of victims," Mathis said in her remarks. "We cannot stand by and tolerate horrific acts of violence any longer. The United States Congress has the opportunity to take action and stop the violence by passing the International Violence Against Women Act."

"My province of origin, the South Kivu province of the Congo, has the highest rate of rape in the world. All these rapes are known and not consistently prevented," said Rose Mapendo, survivor and advocate from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and a featured speaker at the event. "This is why I am speaking out for women and encouraging them to raise their voices for all of us."

"Violence against women is unfair, unjust and a gross violation of women's human rights. Every day we hear of a new episode of women and girls being raped, abused or killed because of their gender," said speaker Ritu Sharma, Co-founder and President of Women Thrive Worldwide. "Passing I-VAWA would show strong U.S. resolve on this issue, but time is running out."

I-VAWA has strong bipartisan support in both Houses of the 111th Congress, with 118 sponsors in the House and 31 in the Senate. This groundbreaking bill would apply the force of U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance toward preventing gender-based violence, which is estimated to affect one in three women and girls worldwide.

For more information on the bill, visit

Source: Amnesty International