WASHINGTON (February 1, 2021) – CARE applauds today’s introduction of the Safe from the Start Act, H.R. 571, by Representatives Grace Meng (D-NY), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), Lois Frankel (D-FL), and Chris Stewart (R-UT). This bipartisan bill will ensure that the U.S. prioritizes the needs of women and girls in responding to humanitarian emergencies. This legislation works specifically to prevent gender-based violence (GBV), including child marriage, domestic violence and human trafficking, at the onset of a humanitarian emergency and to fully address its impacts.
The following statement can be attributed to CARE USA President & CEO Michelle Nunn:
Women and girls displaced by conflict and disaster carry so much on their shoulders, yet their unique needs and rights are often overlooked. Domestic violence increases during emergencies. Child marriage too often becomes a way that families cope with dwindling resources. Rape may be used as a weapon of war or a crime of opportunity in poorly secured displacement camps, and so on.
As humanitarians, we play a role in changing the system so that women and girls can live free from violence and get the support they need. CARE strongly endorses the Safe from the Start Act for bringing attention to these issues and for standing alongside women and girls as they demand safety, rights, and dignity.
One in five women report experiencing sexual violence in humanitarian emergencies. The COVID-19 crisis alone may cause 15 million more cases of gender-based violence globally for every three months the virus causes shutdowns. Yet, we know this staggering reality is preventable. Our humanitarian responses must support survivors and ensure that we address these horrific abuses before they happen. The world is currently witnessing the largest forced displacement crises in recorded history – in the midst of a pandemic – where the majority of displaced people are women and girls.
It is critical that the United States make a robust commitment to address gender-based violence in its humanitarian response efforts. The Safe from the Start Act does just that, and we thank Representatives Meng, Houlahan, Diaz-Balart, Frankel, and Stewart for their bipartisan leadership on this critical and timely legislation.
The Safe from the Start Act will codify and enhance the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Safe from the Start initiative, which provides training and support to address GBV in humanitarian settings and will open greater opportunities for local organizations to play a role in protecting and empowering survivors. This bill will also give critical momentum to the U.S. Government’s work to advance prevention and response to GBV globally by making it a priority to address this issue in crisis contexts.
For More Information Contact:
CARE Senior Press Officer
Rachel.Kent@care.org or 1.516.270.8911