Sessions’ immigration decision on domestic violence threatens women’s lives

Published in MinnPost online newspaper on June 21st, 2018

By Cheryl Thomas, Melissa Scaia, and Helen Rubenstein

The high bar set by Attorney General Jeff Sessions for victims of crime to qualify for asylum protection means that many women will be shut out and, as a result, many women will die.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions dealt a deadly blow to women across the world on June 11. By denying victims of domestic violence the possibility of asylum in the United States, he eliminated a last hope of escaping brutality and even death at the hands of their intimate partners. In a continuation of this administration’s harsh policies toward women, refugees and migrants, domestic violence victims now join young children torn from their families, victims of gang violence, and others who are being denied basic humanitarian assistance in escaping persecution in their home countries.

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Protests Over Istanbul Convention Occur Despite Treaty’s Stance Against Gender Based Violence

Parliament building, Slovakia

This week, Croatia joined a growing list of European countries who have recently backed away from ratifying the Istanbul Convention.  The Istanbul Convention is a Council of Europe convention which sets comprehensive minimum standards for state responses to violence against women and girls.  Pushback against the treaty is a concerning trend and a pronounced example of the backlash currently facing women’s rights movements.

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Lasting Impact of GRW’s 2017 Regional Conference

We are continuing to see lasting impact from the conference on Making Laws Work to End Violence Against Women and Girls that Global Rights for Women hosted last June! Leaders at the conference are taking concrete steps towards stronger laws to protect women from violence.

Global Rights for Women (GRW) partnered with the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Vital Voices, and the Parliament of Romania to hold the conference in Bucharest, Romania. Approximately 160 participants attended from more than 20 countries. A unique feature of the conference was that participants attended in delegations from their home countries made up of NGOs, parliamentarians and government officials. The purpose of the delegations was for participants to work together to apply their new knowledge gained at the conference when they returned home.

This is exactly the result we are seeing! The President of  the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Romanian Parliament recently stated: “the themes tackled at the [conference] has a major importance for the entire Romanian society.” She described a multi-sectoral working group made up of members of parliament, local authorities and NGOs to craft legislative solutions to address violence against women. One critical initiative of the working group is the creation of an emergency protection order barring perpetrators of domestic violence from access to their victims in Romania, a country of almost 20 million people This remedy has proven vitally important for victims of violence around the world and is urgently needed in Romania.

Our partner from the Inter-Parliamentary Union captured our feelings precisely in its reaction to the initiatives of the Romanian multi-sectoral working group:

The work of this particular Group, which we view as the perfect embodiment of the goal of the Regional conference, has already contributed to substantial legislative improvements of the law on domestic violence. This is a great outcome of the conference indeed!

Global Rights for Women Awarded Grant to Develop Risk Assessment Tool to Address Domestic Violence

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Kevin Vollmers
kvollmers@grwomen.org

Global Rights for Women (GRW) has been selected to partner with UN Women and the Ministry of Internal Affairs in the country of Georgia to develop a risk assessment tool be used by law enforcement agencies in Georgia. This tool will be used by law enforcement agencies in Georgia to gauge the danger that perpetrators of domestic violence pose for on-going abuse against the women and children in their lives. This collaboration is an initiative under the “United to Fight Violence Against Women” project funded by the European Union.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with UN Women and our colleagues who work as leaders in the forefront to end violence against women in Georgia. It is an exciting opportunity to assist in implementing a domestic violence law that Global Rights for Women staff helped draft over 10 years ago,” said Cheryl Thomas, Executive Director of GRW.

The primary goal of this project is to create a standardized practice among police throughout the country that makes the severity and frequency of the domestic violence visible to all criminal justice practitioners. GRW staff, along with a consulting police officer, probation officer, and judge who have years of practical experience working with risk assessment tools in Minnesota, will travel to Georgia twice in the next three months to develop a tool that addresses the specific needs of that country, and train local practitioners to use and train others to use the tool.

Whenever an abuser commits domestic violence it is critical for responders to accurately anticipate the likelihood of repeat violence to be able to effectively protect the victim from future harm and possible death at the hands of the perpetrator. A relevant and valid domestic violence risk assessment tool will make the violence visible to all practitioners who work to intervene in cases of domestic violence. An effective response and risk assessment leads to an end to the violence.

About Global Rights for Women

GRW collaborates with partners around the world to promote women’s human rights to equality and freedom from violence through legal reform and systems change. GRW assists in creating new laws and improving legal systems primarily in response to requests from dedicated nonprofit groups eager to deepen their expertise in ending violence against women and girls (VAWG). GRW recognizes that, due to the diverse array of communities around the world dealing with VAWG, each face different and unique challenges. By collaborating with groups, including grassroots organizations, that are intimately familiar with what is needed to improve the lives of women and children in their communities, GRW can be confident that it is responding to real needs and establishing ongoing relationships that allow the organization to adaptively respond as those needs evolve.

Learn more at: globalrightsforwomen.org.

 

 

Made Here + Global Rights for Women | Energy: Made Here Collaboration

Hennepin Theatre Trust is working with Global Rights for Women (GRW) to transform a downtown building window into a global message about violence against women and girls. Continue reading

Making Laws Work to End Violence Against Women and Girls, Bucharest, Romania, June 12 – 14, 2017: Post-Conference Report

Introduction

Making Laws Work to End Violence Against Women and Girls, held in Bucharest Romania June 12 – 14, 2017, provided a platform for approximately 160 parliamentarians, NGO representatives, and government officials from 22 countries in Eastern and Central Europe to share best practices in implementing violence against women laws. The organizers of the conference were Global Rights for Women, Vital Voices, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the Romanian Parliament. The Romanian NGO, Anais, was our local partner in carrying out the conference. The conference produced an Outcome Document that summarized the main strategies for achieving progress, emphasizing the need for collaboration and a victim-centered response.

Read the full report.

Post-ConferenceReport

GRW Signs Joint Gender Community Statement on U.S. Foreign Assistance

 

Global Rights for Women (GRW), along with more than 100 organizations in the gender community, calls on Congress to support a robust U.S. foreign assistance budget. Each year when Congress budgets and appropriates federal spending to provide for our common prosperity and security, it makes important decisions about American values and reflects those values to the nation and the world. Typically, this includes investing in the long-held and cherished American tradition of supporting vulnerable people at home and abroad, including the most marginalized, with the critical assistance they need to build healthy, self-sufficient lives. Increasingly, the U.S. has shown bold leadership supporting women and girls to achieve their full potential, including those that make up 70 percent of the 1.3 billion people worldwide living in extreme poverty. Continue reading

U made the right call and sent an important message

Written by Helen Rubenstein and originally published in the Star Tribune on Thursday, January 5th, 2017:

Handling of the episode signals a strong stand against sexual assault on campus.

The University of Minnesota did the right thing by firing head football coach Tracy Claeys. Though university leaders have focused on benefits to the football program in recent media interviews, the most important message the firing sends is that the university is taking a strong stand against sexual assault on campus.

Even before Tuesday’s announcement, the university had responded forcefully to the horrific actions by multiple Gopher football players on Sept. 2 of last year. Building on the thorough and fair-minded investigation by the university’s Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA) office and the termination of Coach Claeys, the university can continue to show leadership in creating a campus environment that respects women’s human right to be free from sexual violence.

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In Whose Best Interest? Custody and Parenting Time Decisions in the Context of Family Violence

One in nine children are exposed to physical or psychological violence between their parents each year.  Exposure to intimate partner violence may include witnessing the violence firsthand, seeing a parent’s injuries afterward or overhearing a parent verbally abuse the other parent.

child-custody-court

Justice for Children

When children are exposed to intimate partner violence, the effects are profound.  Studies have found that children who witness domestic violence often experience negative health issues, such as depression and anxiety, and have difficulty in school.  Further, when intimate partner violence is normalized within a household, children face an increased likelihood of engaging in violent behavior in their adult lives.  Children may even become victims themselves, as there is a well-established connection between intimate partner violence and child abuse.

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The Women, Peace and Security Act: A Significant Step Forward For Sustainable Global Peace

peace-and-equalityIn a significant step forward for effective global peace building, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Act on Tuesday, November 15th. The act promotes the meaningful participation of women in peace negotiations with the goal of preventing, mitigating and resolving violent conflict.

Four years in the making, the bipartisan legislation acknowledges the critical role that women play in national security and foreign policy. Historically, women have been excluded from or underrepresented at the negotiation table in the U.S. and around the world, and extensive research exists to show that this has likely prevented progress in fostering sustainable peace. For example, a 2015 publication by the International Peace Institute entitled “Reimagining Peacemaking: Women’s Roles in Peace Processes” reported that when negotiations include women, peace agreements are 35 percent more likely to be successful for a period of 15 years or longer.

This type of evidence helped fuel the creation of the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security, which has existed since 2011 and is aligned with the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000). However, the WPS Act, if passed by the Senate, would establish legislation to ensure that the plan is fully implemented. Essentially, it would turn our action plan into law. Continue reading

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