Safety and Freedom from Violence
Women and girls deserve to feel safe and secure in all aspects of life.
Sexual violence robs women of their ability to provide for their families and advance in the workplace, schools, and the military. In the United States, sexual victimization is highest for adolescent and young adult women. One in three women experience sexual violence in their lifetime, one study reports one in five undergraduate women are sexually assaulted on college campuses, and another found that middle and high school girls report higher rates of sexual harassment in a school year. A national study found that 8 in 10 women experience workplace sexual harassment in their lifetime that often contributes to negative life consequences such as physical and mental health, interruptions to their career and earnings. The epidemic of sexual violence disproportionately impacts women of color, immigrant women, LGBTQIA+ women and disabled women. Furthermore, barriers to reporting and addressing sexual violence is highest for Black women. For instance, only 1 out of 15 Black women reports her rape assault. Similarly, Latina and Native women are also less likely to report and seek help in part due to negative experiences with law enforcement and the legal system. Additionally, the U.S national human trafficking line reports over 11,500 trafficking cases in 2019 with women and girls representing 75 percent of those trafficked. While these alarming challenges remain, movements like #MeToo, have empowered women and men to come forward to share their stories of sexual harassment and assault and demand change to our laws and institutions. Women and families are also facing the threat of gun violence. In the US, on average 57 women are murdered by their intimate partner with guns every month and over 4.5 million report being threatened with a gun by an intimate partner. Gun violence and mass shooting rates are higher in the US when compared with other higher income countries. Beyond the intersection of guns and intimate partner violence, women, particularly women of color, are also disproportionately impacted by the climate crisis, which threatens the safety and economic security of all people. As a nation of diverse people, we emphasize that women and families seeking refuge deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Our nation’s immigration policies must be humane. Cruel policies, such as family separation, must not be tolerated.
- Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (H.R. 1620)
The Violence Against Women's Act (VAWA) is landmark legislation responding to our nation’s crisis of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. VAWA saves lives, providing law enforcement with tools to combat violence and survivors with resources and protections to rebuild their lives. VAWA is up for reauthorization, providing an opportunity to bolster and modernize the legislation. VAWA reauthorization passed the House of Representatives March 17, 2021.
- BE HEARD in the Workplace Act (H.R. 2148) (116th)
In the wave of #MeToo, workers have bravely come forward to share their own harrowing experiences of harassment and discrimination and demand systemic change. The BE HEARD Act answers that call by providing a comprehensive set of reforms, including by strengthening existing civil rights laws and expanding workplace protections, extending anti-discrimination protections to all workers, and promoting prevention efforts.
- EMPOWER Act (H.R. 1521) (116th)
Workplace harassment is an abuse of power, robbing women and men of a safe and dignified work environment and harming their ability to care for their families. The EMPOWER Act is a bipartisan package to protect against harassment and discrimination and ensure equitable workplaces.
- Hold Accountable and Lend Transparency (HALT) Campus Sexual Violence Act (H.R. 3381) (116th)
One in five women and one in 16 men are victims of sexual assault on college campuses. The HALT Act would strengthen prevention and enforcement efforts so that students can learn in safe environments and institutions are held accountable.
- Humane Enforcement and Legal Protections (HELP) for Separated Children Act of 2019 (H.R. 3451) (116th)
The Pew Research Center reports that there are more than 5 million children in the United States living with at least one unauthorized immigrant parent. The vast majority of those children are U.S. citizens. Through no fault of their own, these children are vulnerable when their parents are the subject of immigration enforcement, detention, and removal actions. The HELP for Separated Children Act of 2019 would protect children whose parents are involved in immigration enforcement actions.
- Zero Tolerance for Domestic Abusers Act (H.R. 1494)
One in six women has experienced stalking victimization, and nearly half of intimate partner homicides were committed by a dating partner. Yet, current loopholes do not prohibit individuals who have abused dating partners or convicted stalkers from accessing guns. The Zero Tolerance for Domestic Abusers Act would clarify that convicted stalkers and those who have abused dating partners are prohibited from buying or owning a firearm.
- End the Climate Crisis
Women are often more vulnerable to the effects of climate change because they are more likely to be poor, have more limited mobility, and are more dependent on natural resources for their livelihood. Climate change endangers the safety of women and families, exacerbating instability and conflict, and placing a strain on financial resources.
- I Am Vanessa Guillen Act (H.R. 3224)
SPC Guillén’s brutal murder became the catalyst for long overdue change when her family refused to let her case be neglected by Army leadership at Fort Hood. In May, 2021, the Army’s internal investigation found that SPC Guillén was sexually harassed by her platoon sergeant and that her command was aware of the allegation but did nothing. Last year’s Independent Review Committee report found that the Army’s sexual assault and sexual harassment prevention and response programs had failed at Fort Hood, and the I am Vanessa Guillén Act incorporates recommendations from the independent review.