Just a quick addendum to last week's post about how to help women swept up by Congo's rape epidemic. We told you where you might put your money; here's where you might put your mouth: Ask your congressional reps to support the International Violence Against Women Act (S.2279), introduced by Sens. Joseph Biden, D-Del., and Richard Lugar, R-Ind., in an effort to increase U.S. commitment to ending gender-based violence in Congo and worldwide. The IVAWA would implement -- among other things (PDF) -- training, reporting mechanisms and other emergency measures for those working with refugees and other vulnerable populations. Its other main components: creation of a central U.S. Office for Women's Global Initiatives
, with the stipulation that the president may not tap a crackpot to run it, and a five-year comprehensive antiviolence strategy in selected countries, backed by $175 million a year supporting programs addressing justice systems, healthcare, education and school safety, economic empowerment and public awareness. The bill was crafted with the input of over 100 nongovernmental organizations in the U.S. and abroad.
CARE, one of several humanitarian organizations that worked on the bill and that has been striving in particular to end violence, sexual and otherwise, in Congo, is also one of several organizations offering a petition to sign and send. The Women's Edge Coalition is another; its petition page eloquently frames violence against women as an economic issue: Working to end it can help not only families but entire communities -- and even nations -- thrive.