October was Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and in recognition of that designation, the Family Violence Prevention Fund (FVPF) emphasized the special opportunity to educate local, state and federal officials about the need for better funding for domestic violence prevention programs and victim services. The organization also issued a call to action to urge Congress to pass two key pieces of legislation.
First, the FVPF advocates the reauthorize the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act, which funds domestic violence shelters and services, the National Domestic Violence Hotline, prevention programs and other critically needed services. In support of this call to action the FVPF points to some staggering facts on domestic violence:
• The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 1,200 deaths and two million injuries to women from intimate partner violence each year.
• According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, on average four or five women a day are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends in the United States. Women are 84 percent of spouse abuse victims, 86 percent of victims of abuse at the hands of a boyfriend or girlfriend, and three in four victims of family violence.
• Some 450 women are raped or sexually assaulted each day, on average, in the United States. [U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics]
• Young women age 16 to 24 experience the highest rates of rape and sexual assault, and people age 18 and 19 experience the highest rates of stalking. Females age 20 to 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence. [U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics]
• Approximately one in three adolescent girls in the United States is a victim of physical, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner—a figure that far exceeds victimization rates for other types of violence affecting youth. [National Council on Crime and Delinquency Focus]
• The United States Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that 3.4 million persons said they were victims of stalking during a 12-month period in 2005 and 2006. Women experience stalking victimizations at nearly three times the rate of men.
• A 2006 study in the Journal of Family Psychology finds that more than 15 million U.S. children live in families in which partner violence occurred at least once in the past year.
Second, the FVPF and more than 150 other groups advocate the swift passage of the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA), the first comprehensive piece of legislation aimed at ending violence against women and girls around the world.
According to the FVPF, I-VAWA ( / ) is groundbreaking legislation introduced by a bi-partisan team of Senators and Representatives. I-VAWA is particularly significant in that for the first time ever, efforts to end violence against women and girls would be incorporated into U.S. foreign policy and foreign aid. Additionally, it would direct Administration officials to create a comprehensive five-year plan to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls around the world. I-VAWA would support the community-based women’s groups that are working at the local level to promote prevention, conduct education programs and help victims of violence.
This legislation would also:
• Address international sex trafficking and rape during war;
• Strengthen laws to stop violence against women and enhance efforts to bring perpetrators to justice;
• Help survivors escape and recover from violence;
• Prevent deaths from HIV/AIDS;
• Expand economic opportunities for abused women; and
• Educate boys and men to be leaders and allies in ending violence against women and girls.
Statistics and historical data demonstrate that violence against women is a human rights violation and a worldwide pandemic. Approximately one out of every three women worldwide has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime. In some countries it’s up to 70 percent.
Both Illinois U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Roland Burris are co-sponsors of the Senate I-VAWA legislation. Among the Illinois U.S. Representatives who are co-sponsors are: Mark Kirk, Danny Davis, Judy Biggert, Phil Hare, Jesse Jackson Jr., Bobby Rush and Jan Schakowsky.
Visit the FVPF Web site for more information on these and other initiatives at <. ■