Recently, two girls, aged 14 and 15, were gang-raped in the poverty-stricken Uttar Pradesh state of India. They were later found dead, hanging from the branches of a mango tree. In Pakistan late last month, family members of a pregnant woman beat her to death with bricks and clubs outside a Lahore courthouse for marrying a man of her choice instead of the cousin her family preferred. Last February, in conflict-ravaged South Sudan, 20 women in the Mayendit region were raped by soldiers. Then the soldiers urinated into victims' mouths, according to an eyewitness.
The litany of abuses perpetrated against women and girls around the world goes on and on. The U.N. Development Fund for Women estimates that 1 out of every 3 women will be beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused by an intimate partner during her lifetime. The fund also reports that between 100 million and 140 million girls and women have gone through female genital mutilation. More than 60 million girls worldwide are child brides, married before the age of 18. And women in war-ravaged countries are especially vulnerable; in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, for instance, there have been at least 200,000 cases of sexual violence since 1996, mostly involving women and girls, according to the fund.
Many of the most horrible of these atrocities take place in countries that receive tens of millions of dollars in annual economic and development aid from the United States. It makes sense for the U.S. to leverage its economic influence to persuade countries in which abuse based on gender is part of the culture to take steps toward preventing it. The International
The legislation, introduced by Sen.
There's no denying that the United States has its own continuing domestic problems with sexual violence, human trafficking and gender violence. This proposed law is not meant to suggest otherwise. But that does not mean that this country should not also have a role in fighting the violence against women that has become routine in other parts of the world, even as it seeks to address such issues here at home.
It's difficult to understand why anyone would oppose a plan to combat gender-based violence, yet the International Violence Against Women Act has languished in both houses of