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Ask policy makers to end discrimination, violence against all women

May 9, 2012

African_womanThe 1994 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was a giant step forward for the United States. Its passage meant that our federal government finally acknowledged that domestic and sexual violence cause tremendous harm, and put resources into helping victims. Millions of families are better off as a result. This year the Violence Against Women Act is up for a 4-year reauthorization. The Senate recently voted 68-31 in support of VAWA; now we need the House of Representatives to act.

On May 17, as part of our special celebration of 100 years of the Maryknoll Fathers & Brothers and the Maryknoll Sisters, Maryknoll missioners and Affiliates will be on Capitol Hill to ask representatives to approve HR 4271, Rep. Gwen Moore’s version of the VAWA, to thank the Senate for its vote, and to ask the Senate to go one step further by working swiftly to ratify the Convention to End Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

Please join us by taking the following actions:

1) Look here to see if your senator voted for VAWA reauthorization – if so write an email to thank him or her for doing so.

2) Write to your senator and ask him or her to follow up the reauthorization of VAWA by ratifying CEDAW this year. (Talking points below).

Use to send a message to your senators.

Sample letter to senators:

Dear Senator:

I am writing to express my gratitude that the Senate has reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Thank you for reauthorizing this landmark legislation.

VAWA programs can now continue to support systemic changes to meet the needs of victims and save innumerable lives.

Now I ask that you take the next step in securing the rights of women globally; please act swiftly to ratify the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

CEDAW talking points

  • CEDAW is a landmark international agreement that affirms principles of fundamental human rights and equality for women around the world.
  • It serves as a practical blueprint to achieve progress for women and girls by calling on each ratifying country to overcome barriers of discrimination.
  • In ratifying CEDAW the United States will continue its tradition of promoting and protecting human rights; and will reassert itself as a global leader in standing up for the rights of women and girls in countries around the world.

3) Write your representative and ask him or her to promote the reauthorization of the Senate’s version of VAWA in the House. 

VAWA programs have greatly enhanced systemic changes to meet the needs of victims and have saved countless lives. VAWA’s reauthorization will build upon its successes and continue progress towards breaking the cycle and culture of violence. It will:

  • Streamline programs and increase accountability;
  • Support coordinated, community-based responses and direct services for victims;
  • Enhance criminal justice responses to the crime of sexual assault;
  • Strengthen housing protections for victims;
  • Provide services and prevention programs for young people including those on college campuses;
  • Give law enforcement tools to hold offenders accountable in cases where the victim is from another country; and
  • Improve the response to violence against Native American women and other underserved communities.

Use to send a message to your Congressional representative.

Sample letter to representatives:

Dear Representative:

As a constituent who understands that women around the world, especially those who live in poverty, are exposed daily to violent abuse, I ask you to protect and assure the dignity of all women living in the U.S. by acting now to pass the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in the House.

Specifically, please vote FOR HR 4271 and AGAINST HR 4970.

I support a bill like the bipartisan Senate legislation that protects victims who are from Native American, immigrant and other marginalized communities. I oppose HR 4970, introduced by Rep. Sandy Adams (R-FL), because in contrast to the Senate bill (S. 1925), HR 4970 weakens protections for immigrant women and children who are victims of abuse.

HR 4271, introduced by Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), allows every woman in this country full access to the safety granted under a true Violence Against Women Act. 

The United States set an important precedent in the 1990s when it passed the VAWA. It is a significant piece of legislation that protects all women living in the U.S. from violence.

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