05-20-2018  6:39 pm      •     
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NEWS BRIEFS

Raina Croff to Speak at Architectural Heritage Center

'When the Landmarks are Gone: Older African Americans, Place, and Change in N/NE Portland’ describes SHARP Walking Program ...

Portland Playhouse Presents August Wilson’s ‘Fences’ Through June 10

May 20 performance will include discussion on mental health; June 10 performance will be followed by discussion of fatherhood ...

Peggy Houston-Shivers Presents Benefit Concert for Allen Temple CME

Concert to take place May 20 at Maranatha Church ...

Family Friendly Talent Show, May 18

Family Fun Night series continues at Matt Dishman Community Center ...

The Latest: Cougar that attacked cyclists was underweight

SEATTLE (AP) — The Latest on a cougar attack that killed one mountain biker and wounded another outside Seattle (all times local):4:10 p.m.Authorities say the cougar that attacked two cyclists east of Seattle, killing one of them, appears to have been emaciated.Washington Department of Fish...

Portland jury issues million verdict against landlord

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A jury has ordered a rental-property company to pay more than million after a man fell through a rotting walkway at his Portland apartment complex.The Oregonian/OregonLive reports that Robert Trebelhorn argued that Los Angeles-based Prime Group, which owns the...

Cyclists tried to scare cougar but it attacked, killing 1

SEATTLE (AP) — The two mountain bikers did what they were supposed to do when they noticed a mountain lion tailing them on a trail east of Seattle.They got off their bikes. They faced the beast, shouted and tried to spook it. After it charged, one even smacked the cougar with his bike, and...

The Latest: Cougar that attacked cyclists was underweight

SEATTLE (AP) — The Latest on a cougar attack that killed one mountain biker and wounded another outside Seattle (all times local):4:10 p.m.Authorities say the cougar that attacked two cyclists east of Seattle, killing one of them, appears to have been emaciated.Washington Department of Fish...

OPINION

Golfing While Black Is Not a Crime

Grandview Golf Club asks five Black women to leave for golfing too slow ...

Discovering the Best of Black America in 2018

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis discusses the DTU Journalism Fellowship & Scholarship Program ...

Will Israel’s Likud Party Ever Respect the Rights of Palestinians?

Bill Fletcher weighs in on the precarious future of the two-state solution between the Israeli government and the Palestinian people ...

The Future of Medicinal Marijuana in Pets

Dr. Jasmine Streeter says CBD-derived products show beneficial therapeutic benefits for pets ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Principal apologizes for 'insensitive' prom tickets language

CHERRY HILL, N.J. (AP) — The principal of a New Jersey high school has apologized for what he called "insensitive" language on tickets for the upcoming senior prom.The Courier Post reported the Cherry Hill High School East senior prom tickets urged students to "party like it's 1776" during...

2018 midterms: An early heat for 2020 Democrats?

ATLANTA (AP) — Look closely enough at the 2018 midterm campaign and you'll see the stirrings of a Democratic scramble to reclaim the White House from President Donald Trump.The leading players — from established national figures such as former Vice President Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders...

Northern states taking down vestiges of racism, intolerance

DETROIT (AP) — A nearly 80-year-old statue depicting a European settler with a weapon in his hand towering over a Native American that some say celebrates white supremacy has been dismantled by crews in southwestern Michigan's Kalamazoo.And at the University of Michigan, regents have voted...

ENTERTAINMENT

'Jurassic Park' dinosaur expert's next big thing: holograms

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Forget the gray, green and brown dinosaurs in the "Jurassic Park" movies. Paleontologist Jack Horner wants to transport people back in time to see a feathered Tyrannosaurus rex colored bright red and a blue triceratops with red fringe similar to a rooster's comb.Horner,...

Kelly Clarkson honors school victims at Billboard Awards

An emotional Kelly Clarkson opened the 2018 Billboard Music Awards in tribute to the recent school children and teachers who died in Texas, barely able to speak as she urged the audience and the world to do more to prevent deadly shootings from happening.Clarkson, who is hosting the show, said she...

Chrissy Teigen and John Legend reveal name of newborn son

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Chrissy Teigen and John Legend now have a baby boy to go with their toddler girl.The 32-year-old model and 39-year-old singer, whose real name is John Roger Stephens, introduced Miles Theodore Stephens to the world on Sunday.Teigen had been hinting to her millions of...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

In North Korea nuke site closing, spectacle trumps substance

TOKYO (AP) — Foreign journalists will be allowed to journey deep into the mountains of North Korea this...

Venezuela keeps voting stations open amid light turnout

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Voting centers across Venezuela's capital appeared largely empty during Sunday's...

Police response to Texas school shooting remains unclear

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Santa Fe High School had conducted active shooter drills, armed police officers...

Record Everest climber returns, already planning next trip

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — A Sherpa climbing guide who scaled Mount Everest for a record 22nd time last week...

Pope Francis to invest 14 new cardinals in June

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis on Sunday revealed his latest picks to be cardinals in the Catholic...

Britain basks in royal wedding afterglow; grave gets bouquet

LONDON (AP) — Unwilling to kiss Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding goodbye just yet, Britain basked...

Women at the ASAZA center in Mazabuka, Zambia
Jazelle Hunt NNPA Washington Correspondent

PHOTO: Women at the ASAZA center in Mazabuka, Zambia, which supports survivors of gender-based violence (Photo by Emily Travis/DFID).

WASHINGTON (NNPA) –Last year, the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 was amended and reauthorized. This past month, a group of senators began setting their sights on broadening protection to women around the world.

With S.2307, also known as the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA), preventing and responding to violence against women abroad would become a top priority of American foreign policy. When he was in the Senate, Secretary of State John Kerry first proposed the bill in 2010. It has failed a few times with several other sponsors since then.

This time, sponsors are hoping for a different outcome.

“Violence against women and girls impedes progress in meeting many United States global development goals,” the bill reads. “It is the policy of the United States to take effective action to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls around the world, as a matter of basic human rights as well as to promote gender equality, economic growth, and improved public health.”

While many applaud the measure – including 300 humanitarian groups such as Amnesty International – there are important questions to consider. With the United States’ track record on the subject within its own borders, and its litany of controversial international interventions, is it reasonable to attempt such a global endeavor?

“Once [the bill] develops more teeth, we’ll see how it interacts with [communities abroad],” says Caroline Kouassiaman, program officer for sub-Saharan Africa for the Global Fund for Women. The advocacy and grantmaking organization collects private funding and redistributes it as grants to independent, community-based women’s organizations abroad.

“The United States is a large player in international assistance, and that plays a role in sub-Saharan Africa in the way funding is allocated for resources,” says Kouassiaman, citing Uganda as an example. There, 40 percent of the national budget is funded through aid from the U.S. and other nations. As a result, the American policies attached to aid guide how Uganda allocates those funds to the community organizations and government agencies that need it.

The bill offers an extensive, but slightly vague outline for implementation. First, it makes the (existing) State Department Office of Global Women’s Issues a legally required entity, and charges the (also existing) ambassador with orchestrating all women-related efforts. The ambassador would also continue to be responsible for creating the United States Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence Globally (devised in 2012 via executive order). As part of this strategy, five to 20 developing nations with “significant levels” of gender-based violence would have individualized response plans.

“I think the grantees we work with would welcome the strong statement. It mirrors the language that exists in a lot of other policies [around the world], and we’re actually in alignment with the rest of the world, which is exciting to see,” says Kouassiaman.

Other directives in the bill include fostering economic, educational, health, and legal activities to combat gendered violence; preventing early and forced marriage; and using “U.S. personnel” to train foreign police and military forces to respond to and prevent violence against women and girls.

For Lauren Chief Elk, activist and cofounder of the Save Wiyabi Project, an advocacy group that addresses violence against indigenous women, that last point is a red flag in an already dubious policy.

“Do I think gender violence is a problem in these countries, yes. But I also think the United States is a root of those causes,” she explains. “What I find problematic is that –  and it’s not that thinly veiled – this is very much like what we used to fuel the Iraq-Iran invasion…we’re ‘liberating women.’ It’s not ultimately about helping with gender violence, it’s more about occupation.”

Elk also points out that law enforcement and military are often perpetrators of violence against women, within their own ranks and among those they are supposed to protect. In 2006, a Philippine court convicted an American soldier of raping a woman who lived near the base. In 2011, soldiers based in South Korea were all put under curfew after two soldiers were accused of raping South Korean women on separate instances. Last year, the then-chief of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office for the Air Force was arrested in Virginia for sexually assaulting a civilian.

“The United States is global violence against women,” Elk says. “We can barely go a day without hearing about sexual assault against women in our own military forces, and these are the people who are going to be solving the problem?”

Kouassiaman is a bit more optimistic, but also remains critical until more details are given.

“[I-VAWA] is very comprehensive legislation…. But there are still a lot of questions in accountability. Who is responsible for enforcing this? One aspect is training military and police to respond, but how, and who’s doing this?” she asks, adding that women themselves should be part of the process. “We also need to address the issue of violence here in our own country.”

One aspect of the bill she and others find promising, is that it shows deference to the women, community systems, and organizations that are already engaged in this work, for and with their own people.

According to the bill, “building local capacity” is a mandatory part of the strategy. Further, “Not less than 10 percent of the amount of assistance provided…should be provided to community-based nongovernmental organizations, with priority given to [those] led by women.”

The bill also mandates “engaging men and boys as partners,” though it doesn’t say how.

Currently, I-VAWA is being reviewed in the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. If it passes muster there, it will be put to vote on the Senate floor. From there it must pass a vote in the House, survive any amendments, and then be signed by the president. If the past is any indication, the legislation will likely face an uphill battle.

On the other hand, as Elk points out, the wake of the Nigerian girls’ kidnapping, gang rapes in India, and the Isla Vista, California killings may provide ripe conditions.

“It gets tricky when you frame invasions with aid and help and humanitarianism. It gets people’s emotions going,” Elk says. She offers an alternative to I-VAWA:

“A great first step to addressing gender violence worldwide would be to get military forces out of these countries, including private forces employed by U.S. companies,” Elk recommends, “and then work on getting those companies out.”

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