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Recognizing the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

November 25, 2011
 The following post appears courtesy of Susan B. Carbon, Director, Office on Violence Against Women On November 25th, the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) proudly joins with our global partners who work tirelessly to end violence against women in observing the International Elimination of Violence Against Women Day. On this day we are reminded of all the women who are victims of domestic and dating violence, sexual assault and stalking in this country and around the world, and the urgent need to eradicate all forms of violence against them, their children and their families. The statistics are staggering, and the impact on the lives of women and their children more so.  When seeking food, water or shelter for one’s children comes at the expense of physical assault or rape; when trying to leave an abusive husband comes at the expense of being stoned to death; when being in the accompaniment of a man not one’s spouse comes at the expense of disfiguration or death from acid or being burned alive; or when little girls must walk miles to go to school and risk terror on the way, we are reminded, painfully so, that the struggles of women around the world are grave, and rooted in the deepest of prejudice and oppression. We must stand together, united in our repudiation of this unspeakable violence, whether we live and work here or abroad.  These conditions of inhumanity cannot be tolerated, anywhere or any time. Here in this country, the Office on Violence Against Women has awarded over $4 billion in grants and cooperative agreements to implement a multifaceted approach to ending violence against women.  In recognition of the severity of the crimes associated with domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking, Congress passed the first Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in 1994.  The act has been reauthorized twice with broad bi-partisan support, and is being considered for reauthorization again. This law takes a comprehensive approach to violence against women by combining tough new penalties to prosecute offenders with programs to aid the victims of this violence. In the years since the law’s enactment, we have witnessed a sea-change in the ways that communities respond to violence against women.   The coordinated community approach established under VAWA allows OVW to have significant impact on the lives of women and children across the world. For example, our office recently joined with the University of Minnesota to provide training and technical assistance to judges, attorneys and legal advocates on the problem of battered women losing custody of their children to a batterer.  The University of Minnesota houses the Hague Domestic Violence Project, which is made up of a group of researchers, volunteer lawyers, law students and advisors who work to provide a comprehensive resource for parties involved in a custody case brought under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The Seeking Safety in America Project will help enhance the knowledge and skills of a variety of professionals so that when Hague Convention cases involving violence against women are heard in court, battered mothers and their children will have informed legal representation and advocacy.  The project will also help enable judges hearing these cases to understand violence against women and the grave risk that returning children to an abusive parent presents for both the children and their mothers. In addition, the Project will coordinate with the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, the National Family Justice Center Alliance, the Americans Overseas Domestic Violence Crisis Center, and the Battered Women's Justice Project in order to offer new training modules at these organizations’ existing or planned events. We look forward to joining the U.S. Department of State in January for the second part of the Special Commission on the Practical Operation of the 1980 and 1996 Hague Convention to discuss the possibility of drafting a “Guide to Good Practices” for judges. The guide may be used by judges when implementing the requirement to consider grave harm to a child in an international custody proceeding. These issues are challenging for judges world-wide.  Ensuring safety for children is a universal goal.  The Office on Violence Against Women remains committed to supporting the work of our partners to create a safe and violence-free life for women, their children and families. We look forward to expanding the dialogue to involve all our partners, individually and collectively.  We are grateful for the work of individuals and organizations around the world that work every day to end violence against women in all its forms.  For more information about the Office on Violence Against Women, visit ovw.usdoj.gov. We remind all those in need of assistance, or other concerned friends and individuals, to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE or the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE   

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