Politics

Nancy Pelosi Sasses Fox News

Mike Magner
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Mike Magner
Feb. 6, 2014, 1:18 p.m.

A chilling stat­ist­ic drives Ritu Sharma in her life’s work: One out of every three wo­men, both in the United States and throughout the world, is a vic­tim of as­sault, rape, murder or some oth­er vi­ol­ent act or, all too of­ten, mul­tiple acts.

“So if you have three daugh­ters, one of them will be a vic­tim of vi­ol­ence,” said Sharma, co-founder and pres­id­ent of Wo­men Thrive World­wide, a Wash­ing­ton-based group try­ing to tackle the prob­lem on a glob­al scale.

Sharma en­dured bru­tal­ity at a young age, and de­cided early on that she would fo­cus on ad­dress­ing an is­sue that dates to the be­gin­ning of man. After be­ing raised in Ari­zona by her In­di­an par­ents, Sharma gradu­ated from Geor­getown Uni­versity in 1990 and spent time in Wash­ing­ton’s non­profit world be­fore help­ing to set up Wo­men Thrive World­wide in 1998.

The launch came four years after Con­gress passed the Vi­ol­ence Against Wo­men Act, which es­tab­lished an ar­ray of pro­grams for vic­tims of do­mest­ic vi­ol­ence and sexu­al as­sault. Since the law’s en­act­ment in 1994, the rate of vi­ol­ence against wo­men has been go­ing down in the United States, Sharma said.

Sharma’s group, with a staff of 17 and pro­grams reach­ing out to wo­men around the world, is push­ing Con­gress to pass a law sim­il­ar to VAWA but with a glob­al reach.

The In­ter­na­tion­al Vi­ol­ence Against Wo­men Act is await­ing markup in the Sen­ate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee, pos­sibly this week, Sharma said. With time run­ning out for ac­tion in this Con­gress, spon­sors of the bill in­vited vic­tims of vi­ol­ence to share their stor­ies on Cap­it­ol Hill last week in hopes of push­ing the bill onto the cal­en­dar.

One of the speak­ers at Thursday’s event was Rose Mapendo, who sur­vived a gen­o­cid­al war that con­tin­ues in the Demo­crat­ic Re­pub­lic of the Congo and comes from a province that has the highest rate of rape in the world. “All these rapes are known and not con­sist­ently pre­ven­ted,” she said.

Back­ers of the bill say it would shine a much-needed spot­light on the prob­lem of vi­ol­ence against wo­men and put the full weight of the U.S. gov­ern­ment be­hind ef­forts to ad­dress it. There are now a num­ber of small pro­grams fo­cused on the is­sue scattered around the State De­part­ment and oth­er agen­cies, but there is no co­ordin­ated ap­proach, Sharma said.

The bill would re­or­gan­ize gov­ern­ment ef­forts, plus al­low it to dir­ect funds to na­tions with ma­jor prob­lems, such as Congo and Haiti, and au­thor­ize grants to loc­ally based groups around the world, she said.

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