International violence against women is a global problem of enormous proportions. This violence cannot be explained as simply cultural; it is criminal. It is every nation's problem, and it is the cause of widespread destruction and lost potential across the globe. We need a response that is commensurate with the seriousness of the crimes.
We support the goals of the proposed International Violence Against Women Act. Increasing legal and judicial protection and health sector capacity to respond to violence against women are necessary steps needed to address sexual and gender-based violence. Similarly, we must pursue policies that increase women’s economic opportunity, advance educational opportunities, and build public awareness, among both men and women.
Fifteen years ago, the UN Fourth World Conference on Women placed this global challenge before the world. Despite the gains we have made, we have much more to do. If we are to effectively address the growing problem of sexual and gender-based violence, we need a comprehensive plan that involves interagency and multilateral partners and addresses all aspects of violence against women, from prevention to protection and prosecution of these cases.
We look forward to continuing our work with Congress and the international community to chart a new era of international cooperation to address violence against women, to create partnerships among governments, multilateral institutions, the private sector, civil society, and individuals.