Violence against women was the subject of a special order conducted on March 20 by the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues in honor of Women’s History Month. Caucus Co-Chair Judy Biggert (R-IL) and Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) delivered remarks on the House floor regarding violence against women.
“There are two types of violence against women that need to be addressed: domestic violence and sexual assault,” stated Rep. Biggert, adding that the passage and reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act has increased awareness of the issue. However, she urged Congress to focus its attention on sexual assault. “The statistics on this issue are staggering. A rape occurs every 90 seconds, and estimates show that one out of every three women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime,” she said.
Rep. Jackson Lee also urged Congress to make violence against women a top priority. “The injuries, mental and emotional conditions of women and their children who are the witnesses or victims of domestic violence could be prevented, but there is a lack of resolve on the part of Congress to make this a top priority,” she stated.
Rep. Roybal-Allard focused her comments on a bill she will reintroduce, the Battered Women’s Employment Protection Act. Stating that one step to ending the cycle of domestic violence is ensuring that the woman is financially independent, Rep. Roybal-Allard added: “This act achieves these goals by allowing employed victims of domestic violence, without penalty, access to reasonable time off from work in order to seek legal and medical assistance, make necessary court appearances, and attend to personal security.”
“While there is even one woman out there who endures violence, our work will not be complete,” stated Rep. Schakowsky. “We need more money for services such as transitional housing and job placement and training to support women while they seek to escape abusive situations….We must change our attitudes to come up with remedies to cure this epidemic, not just treat its symptoms,” she said.