The National Organization for Women is proud to support H. Res. 32, denouncing the practices of female genital mutilation, domestic violence, ‘honor’ killings, acid burning, dowry deaths, sexual slavery and other gender-based persecutions. We commend Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) for her work on this resolution, and we say it is time for Congress to take a stand for the health and lives of girls and women everywhere.
The United States must call strongly for the protection of the millions of women who will become victims of stoning, stabbing, maiming, forced suicide, beheadings, acid throwing and many other cruel punishments with the false justification of “family honor.” Further, we must condemn the worldwide epidemic of domestic violence, and the rape of civilian and military women as a common weapon in war.
H. Res. 32 is an important initiative for many reasons. The language of the resolution correctly identifies that these acts of mutilation, battering and murder are gross violations of women’s human rights. Often sanctioned by religious and ethnic traditions and ignored by law enforcement authorities, these violent acts serve to terrify and oppress millions of women across the globe. They are the simplest and starkest expression of the misogyny that can be found in almost every culture — including our own. Hatred of women is costly — not only for the women, but for their families and society as a whole.
H. Res. 32 begins an essential process to engage other nations in a dialogue about the treatment of women within their borders. It is an opening for this country and others who want to protect the health and lives of girls and women. Beyond today’s resolution, we need legislation requiring that our government act to promote with other nations better enforcement of laws against so-called honor killings, dowry deaths, sexual slavery and other violent acts against girls and women.
The reality for women in many parts of the world is scary and sickening. Rep. Jackson Lee noted in her statement that the leading cause of death worldwide among women ages 14 to 44 is violence in their own homes. Violence against women limits their freedom and opportunities, and often results in a life of poverty — 70 percent of those living in abject poverty are women — even though women perform two-thirds of the world’s work.
With these kinds of odds, the world’s leaders must stand up for women who have no voice. NOW has made a commitment to help in the global effort to rid of this oppression against women. We need the strength of Congress to pass H. Res. 32 so our daughters — my daughters, too — can live in a world where women are a respected, given equal rights, and live under a free and just society.
For more than four decades, the National Organization for Women has advocated for an end to violence against women. With the help of hundreds of thousands of activists who urged adoption and funding of anti-violence programs, we have made impressive progress in the U.S., but there is so much more to be done.