The esteemed panel of witnesses was made up of Ambassador-at-Large for the Office of War Crimes Issues Stephen Rapp, Lydia Mungherera, founder of Mama’s Club in Uganda and Board Member of Global Aids Alliance, Humaira Shahid, a former journalist and parliamentarian from Pakistan, Gary Barker from the International Center for Research on Women who spoke about the value of engaging men and boys in the struggle to against violence and Retired Major-General Patrick Cammaert, a former UN Force Commander.
Earlier this month, I attended the Congressional Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission hearing on Violence Against Women. This hearing and the witnesses’ testimonies demonstrated the immediate need for passage of the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA), a bill that was introduced in February in both the House and the Senate. In a great showing of solidarity, the room was filled past “standing room only;” people were even sitting on the floor!
Demonstrating their bipartisan support, I-VAWA champions Congressmen Delahunt (D-MA) and Poe (R-TX) testified and spoke of their support for the bill’s passage. Congressman Delahunt referred to domestic violence against women legislation, and noted its great impact. “I daresay making violence against women a priority and a component in our foreign policy…over time… we will see the kind of results we’ve seen here elsewhere.” Congressman Poe addressed the issue of the United States taking on this large leadership role in ending violence against women globally. “The U.S. should be the leader on human rights around the world; it’s what we do in this country.” Quoting his granny – and the philosophy of grandmothers worldwide – Poe continued, “You never hurt somebody you claim to love.” The women being abused, raped, and murdered across the globe could easily be our mothers, grandmothers, daughters, and sisters here in the U.S.