WASHINGTON (JTA) — The American Jewish World Service is backing the International Violence Against Women Act, a bill initiated by two Jewish lawmakers.
In a conference call Thursday, the emergency relief group said its backing of the bill, initiated last month by Reps. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), marked the launch of its new campaign to end violence against women, hate crimes against the LGBT community and forced marriages of underage girls.
AJWS said the bill would “for the first time, codify a comprehensive approach by the U.S. to fight violence against women and girls internationally.”
Ruth Messinger, the AJWS president, said one in three women in the world will be a victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime and 10 million girls under 18 will enter into early and forced marriages. She also said that in 76 countries homosexuality is illegal and punishable by imprisonment and, in some cases, by death.
Schakowsky said on the call that there was a need to protect women throughout the world and specifically in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where “rape is used an effective weapon of war.”
Added Lowey, “Every day in every nation, women are victims of violence.”
“We cannot remain silent,” Messinger said.
Also participating in the call was Wangechi Wachira, executive director of the Centre for Rights Education and Awareness in Kenya, who said, “We need to tell the world this is a priority.”