International Violence Against Women: U.S. Response and Policy Issues

Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress

In recent years, the international community has increasingly recognized international violence
against women (VAW) as a significant human rights and global health issue. VAW, which can
include both random acts of violence as well as sustained abuse over time, can be physical,
psychological, or sexual in nature. Studies have found that VAW occurs in all geographic regions,
countries, cultures, and economic classes, with some surveys showing that women in developing
countries experience higher rates of violence than those in developed countries. Many experts
view VAW as a symptom of the historically unequal power relationship between men and women,
and argue that over time this imbalance has led to pervasive cultural stereotypes and attitudes that
perpetuate a cycle of violence.
U.S. policymakers have generally focused on specific types or circumstances of VAW rather than
view it as a stand-alone issue. Congress has authorized and appropriated funds for international
programs that address VAW, including human trafficking and female genital cutting. In addition,
past and current Administrations have supported efforts to reduce international levels of VAW—
though many of these activities are implemented as components of broader foreign aid initiatives.
There is no U.S. government-wide coordination of anti-VAW efforts. Most agencies and
departments do not track the cost or number of programs with VAW components. Therefore, it is
unclear how much money the U.S. government, or individual agencies, spend annually on VAW-
related programs. Some experts have suggested that the U.S. government should re-examine, and
perhaps enhance, current U.S. anti-VAW activities. They argue that VAW should not only be
treated as a stand-alone human rights issue, but also be integrated into U.S. assistance and foreign
policy mechanisms. Other observers are concerned with a perceived lack of coordination among
U.S. government agencies and departments that address international violence against women.
This report addresses causes, prevalence, and consequences of violence against women. It
provides examples of U.S. activities that address VAW directly or include anti-VAW components. th
It outlines possible policy considerations for the 111 Congress, including the scope and
effectiveness of U.S. programs; further integrating anti-VAW programs into U.S. assistance and
foreign policy mechanisms; and strengthening U.S. government coordination of anti-VAW
activities. Material relating to United Nations anti-VAW activities that previously appeared in this
report is now published in CRS Report RL34518, United Nations System Efforts to Address
Violence Against Women, by Luisa Blanchfield.

Introduc tion ..................................................................................................................................... 1
Defining Violence Against Women.................................................................................................2
Scope and Context...........................................................................................................................2
Social and Health Consequences...............................................................................................3
Prevalence and Circumstances..................................................................................................3
Types of Violence............................................................................................................................5
Harmful Traditional Practices...................................................................................................6
George W. Bush Administration Efforts..........................................................................................7
Interagency Activities................................................................................................................8
Key Issues and Related U.S. Activities...........................................................................................8
Global Health............................................................................................................................9
Related U.S. Activities......................................................................................................10
Humanitarian Assistance and Refugees...................................................................................11
Related U.S. Activities......................................................................................................12
Foreign Military Training........................................................................................................13
Related U.S. Activities......................................................................................................14
Trafficking in Women and Girls..............................................................................................15
Related U.S. Activities......................................................................................................16
Legal and Political Rights.......................................................................................................17
Related U.S. Activities......................................................................................................17
Selected International Activities....................................................................................................18
U.N. System Efforts................................................................................................................18
Other International Efforts......................................................................................................19
Policy Issues for Congress.............................................................................................................20
Scope, Effectiveness, and Funding of Current U.S. Programs................................................21
Integration into Foreign Assistance Programs and Additional Funding.................................21
Coordination Among U.S. Agencies and Departments...........................................................22
Collaboration with International Organizations......................................................................22
Possible Program Implementation Challenges........................................................................22
Infrastructure and Priorities..............................................................................................23
Most Effective Approaches?.............................................................................................23
Program Evaluation..........................................................................................................23
Lack of Comparable Data.................................................................................................24
Current and Emerging Issues.........................................................................................................24
The Role of Men and Boys...............................................................................................24
Links to HIV/AIDS...........................................................................................................24
Discrimination and Violence.............................................................................................25
Possible Economic Impacts..............................................................................................25
Table 1. Examples of Violence Against Women..............................................................................5

Appendix A. Additional Resources...............................................................................................26
Appendix B. Selected U.S. Agencies and Offices/Bureaus that Address Global Violence
Against Women..........................................................................................................................28
Author Contact Information..........................................................................................................29

In the past three decades, the U.S. government and international community have increasingly
recognized violence against women (hereinafter VAW) as a human rights problem with far 1
reaching consequences. Prior to the 1970s, many in the international community viewed VAW as
a private matter to be dealt with among individuals and not a public matter that merited a national 2
or international response. In the late 1970s and 1980s, however, the international community
began to focus on VAW as a global health problem and violation of human rights. This shift was
driven, in part, by an increasingly effective and well-organized grassroots movement of local,
national, and international women’s non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that brought
international attention to the plight of VAW victims and created a more public forum for 3
discussion of the issue.
U.S. policymakers have generally addressed VAW as a component of other international
development efforts rather than as a stand-alone issue. Congress has authorized and appropriated
funds for international programs that address types of VAW, including trafficking in persons and
female genital cutting (FGC). Members of Congress have also addressed VAW in the context of
issues such as HIV/AIDS prevention and democracy promotion. Similarly, in the last decade past
and current Administrations have supported initiatives to reduce specific types and circumstances
of international VAW through programs addressing humanitarian assistance and healthcare. The
lack of U.S. government-wide coordination or overarching framework for addressing
international VAW, however, has led some to suggest that U.S. efforts to address VAW, while
important, take a piecemeal approach to addressing the problem. Further, some argue that the
United States should re-examine and possibly enhance current efforts to combat violence against
This report identifies types of VAW and the direct and indirect consequences of these acts of
violence. It provides examples of U.S. government programs that—in whole or in part—work to
reduce or eliminate international violence against women. It does not assess the scope of
individual programs or a program’s success in achieving its goal. The report also outlines possible th
policy considerations for the 111 Congress, including the scope and effectiveness of current U.S.
programs, further integrating VAW prevention and treatment into U.S. foreign assistance 4
programs, and coordinating among U.S. executive branch agencies and departments.

1 This report discusses U.S. efforts to address international VAW on a global level. It does not address VAW in
particular regions or countries. For an overview of domestic efforts and programs to combat VAW, see CRS Report
RL30871, Violence Against Women Act: History and Federal Funding, by Garrine P. Laney.
2 International efforts to address women’s issues during this time focused primarily on achieving equal legal and
political protection through legal reforms.
3 For more information on the international movement to address VAW, see Overcoming Violence against Women and
Girls: The International Campaign to Eradicate a Worldwide Problem, by Michael L. Penn and Rahel Nardos, Rowan
& Littlefield Publishers, Inc., Lanham, MD, 2003.
4 For information on U.N. system anti-VAW efforts, see CRS Report RL34518, United Nations System Efforts to
Address Violence Against Women, by Luisa Blanchfield.

In 1993, the U.N. General Assembly adopted the non-binding Declaration on the Elimination of
Violence Against Women (DEVAW). The Declaration, which was supported by the U.S.
government, describes VAW as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to
result in, physical, sexual, or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such 5
acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life.” The
DEVAW definition of VAW is broad, encompassing both physical and psychological harm. It is
used in this report because it is one of the most inclusive and widely agreed to international
definitions. In some contexts, VAW may be used synonymously with “gender-based violence”
(GBV), which describes violence perpetrated against an individual, regardless of sex, because of 6
his or her gender.
Despite the international adoption of DEVAW, governments, organizations, and cultures continue
to define VAW in number of ways, taking into account unique factors and circumstances. How
VAW is defined has implications for policymakers because the definition affects the types of
violence that are measured and addressed. Some law enforcement organizations and national
criminal codes, for instance, do not consider psychological abuse to be a form a VAW because,
while harmful, in many cases it is legal. Others, however, advocate for a broader definition of
VAW, contending that physical and psychological harm cannot be separated, and that 7
psychological abuse can be as devastating as physical abuse.

VAW occurs in all geographic regions, countries, cultures, and economic classes. Many experts
view VAW as a symptom of the historically unequal power relationship between men and women,
and argue that over time this imbalance has led to pervasive cultural stereotypes and attitudes that 8
perpetuate a cycle of violence. Though the specific causes of VAW vary on a case-by-case basis,
some researchers have identified community and individual risk factors that may increase rates of
violence against women. Community factors can include cultural norms that support male
superiority, high crime levels, poor economic conditions, and a lack of political and legal
protection from governments. Individual factors that may lead to a high risk of becoming a victim 9
of VAW include living in poverty and a previous history of abuse.

5 U.N. document, A/RES/48/104, December 20, 1993. DEVAW was adopted without a vote at the 48th Session of the
U.N. General Assembly.
6 The term “gender-based violence” is broader than VAW because it can include violence perpetrated against men and
boys in addition to women and girls.
7 For further discussions on VAW definitions, see Ending Violence Against Women: A Challenge for Development and
Humanitarian Work, by Francine Pickup, Oxfam GB, Information Press, Eynsham, 2001, pp. 11-14, and “Defining and
Measuring Violence Against Women: Background, Issues, and Recommendations,” by Patricia Tjaden, Expert Group
Meeting of the U.N. Division for the Advancement of Women, April 11-14, 2005.
8 For further discussion, see U.N. document, A/61/122/Add.1, In-depth Study on all Forms of Violence Against Women:
Report of the Secretary-General, July 6, 2007, pp. 28-30, available at
9 For more information on VAW risk factors, see World Report on Violence and Health, edited by E.G. Krug et al.,
World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland, October 3, 2002, pp. 96-100 and 157-161, at

A wide range of research highlights the serious social and civil consequences of violence against
women. In many societies, women provide emotional and financial support for families and
communities. Studies have shown that violence and the social stigma of violence negatively
affect the ability of women and girls to participate fully in and contribute to their communities.
Research has also found that women who experience violence are less likely to hold jobs and are 10
more likely to live in poverty than those who do not experience violence. Violence and the fear
of violence may cause some women to avoid public places such as schools and the workplace.
Some research has also found that women may also be less likely to participate in political 11
activities or development projects because of the threat of physical violence. Moreover, some
studies have found that harassment and sexual abuse contributes to low female enrollment rates 12
and high dropout rates from secondary schools.
The health consequences of VAW are significant, with many victims suffering from severe
physical and mental health consequences—both immediate and long-term. Numerous studies
have found that women and girls who experience violence have an increased risk of poor physical 13
and reproductive health. The physical health impacts of VAW can be divided into two
categories—immediate and functional. Immediate consequences directly result from acts of
violence, and may include fractures, gunshot wounds, bruises and lacerations, and death. 14
Functional consequences, also referred to as “functional disorders,” include long-term health
consequences. Researchers have linked these functional impacts to long-term physical or sexual
abuse. They include gastrointestinal disorders, chronic pain (including pelvic pain), chronic
urinary tract infections, and irritable bowel syndrome. (For more information on the health
consequences of VAW, see the “Global Health” section.)
World Health Organization (WHO) multi-country surveys estimate that between 10% and 69% of 15
women have been physically hit or harmed by a male partner at some point in their lives. The
WHO surveys found that levels of violence tend to vary by country, and that women in 16
developing countries may experience higher rates of violence than those in developed countries.

10 Eleanor Lyon, “Welfare and Domestic Violence Against Women: Lessons from Research, National Online Resource
Center on Violence Against Women, August 2002, pp. 49, 50.
11 U.N. document, A/61/122/Add.1, July 6, 2007.
12 These findings resulted from a qualitative study in Ethiopia. For more information, see Unsafe Schools: A Literature
Review of School-Related Gender-Based Violence in Developing Countries, Wellesley Centers for Research on Women
(with the support of USAID), September 2003.
13 See, for example, U.N. document, A/61/122/Add.1, In-depth Study on all Forms of Violence Against Women: Report
of the Secretary-General, July 6, 2007, and Summary Report: WHO Multi-Country Study on Women’s Health and
Domestic Violence Against Women, Initial Results on Prevalence, Health Outcomes and Women’s Responses, World
Health Organization, 2005.
14 For further information on the functional health consequences of VAW, seeResearching Violence Against Women:
A Practical Guide for Researchers and Activists, by Mary Ellsberg and Lori Heise, World Health Organization, 2005,
pp. 18-24.
15 These data are based on 48 international population-based surveys conducted between 1982 and 1999. For more
information, see World Report on Violence and Health, WHO, 2002, pp. 89-90.
16 Ibid. In Japan, for example, data indicated that women were less likely to have experienced physical or sexual abuse.
Surveyed women with the greatest risk of violence were from rural areas in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Peru, and Tanzania.

Some research indicates that approximately one in five women experiences rape or attempted 17
rape during her lifetime. Surveys in some Asian and sub-Saharan African countries have found 18
high female mortality rates due to female infanticide and nutritional neglect of young girls.
Many incidences of violence are not reported because of the shame and fear associated with being
a victim. Experts generally agree that current levels of violence reported through studies and
national and local law enforcement records represent a minimum of actual VAW cases. Rates of
sex trafficking, sexual violence in armed conflict situations, female infanticide, and violence in
schools and the workplace, for example, are thought to be significantly under-documented, 19
particularly in developing countries. Underreporting may occur because victims view violence
as normal or expected behavior. Additionally, in certain circumstances it is difficult for
researchers to collect data on VAW prevalence. In conflict situations, for example, potentially
dangerous and fluid conditions may affect the ability of researchers to gain access or create
conditions conducive to victims coming forward. In addition, some communities, particularly
those in developing countries, lack adequate law enforcement infrastructure and reporting 20
services, which may discourage women from reporting abuse.
VAW can occur in the home as well as in public and private institutions, including the workplace,
schools, universities, and state institutions. Custodial VAW, which includes violence in prisons,
immigration detention centers, social welfare institutions, and jails, is reported in many areas of 21
the world—though there is not enough to data to quantify its prevalence globally. Moreover,
VAW in schools, which can be perpetrated by teachers, administrators, and students, is prevalent
in developing countries, particularly those in Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and Latin 22
America. In Ecuador, for example, a World Bank study found that approximately 22% of 23
women reported being sexually abused in school. A qualitative study in Ethiopia found that
harassment and sexual abuse contributed to low female enrollment rates and high dropout rates 24
from secondary school.

See Summary Report: WHO Multi-Country Study on Womens Health and Domestic Violence Against Women, Initial
Results on Prevalence, Health Outcomes and Women’s Responses, World Health Organization, 2005, pp. 5-7.
17 State of the Wold Population—2005, U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), p. 67, available at
2005/english/ch7/index.htm, and U.N. Violence Against Women Fact Sheet, February 2008, available at
18 See, for example, Amartyna Sen, “Many Faces of Gender Inequality,Frontline (Indias National Magazine from the
Publishers of The Hindu), vol. 18, issue 22, October 27-November 9, 2007, available at
19 U.N. document, A/61/122/Add.1, July 6, 2007, pp. 66-67.
20Violence Against Women: A Statistical Overview, Challenges and Gaps in Data Collection and Methodology and
Approaches for Overcoming Them,” by Sharmeen A. Farouk, Expert Group Meeting of the U.N. Division for the
Advancement of Women, April 11-14, 2005.
21 See U.N. document, A/61/122/Add.1, July 6, 2007, p. 44.
22 See Unsafe Schools: A Literature Review of School-Related Gender-Based Violence in Developing Countries,
Wellesley Centers for Research on Women (with the support of U.S. Agency for International Development),
September 2003.
23 Ibid.
24 Ibid.

Violence against women can include both random acts as well as sustained abuse over time, 25
which can be physical, psychological, or sexual in nature (see Table 1). Some studies have
found that women are most likely to experience violence at the hands of someone they know,
including authority figures, parents, sons, husbands, and male partners. Studies conclude that one
of the most common forms of VAW is intimate partner violence, which can include forced sex, 26
physical violence, and psychological abuse, such as isolation from family and friends.
Table 1. Examples of Violence Against Women
Life Stage Examples
Infancy Infanticide; psychological and physical abuse; differential access to food and medical care
Childhood Female genital cutting; incest and sexual abuse; psychological abuse; differential access to food,
medical care, and education; prostitution; trafficking; school-related gender-based violence
Adolescence Dating and courtship violence; economically coerced sex; sexual abuse in the workplace; rape; sexual
harassment; forced prostitution; trafficking; psychological abuse; forced marriage; dowry abuse;
retribution for the crimes of others
Reproductive Intimate partner abuse; marital rape; dowry abuse; honor killings; partner homicide; psychological
abuse; sexual abuse in the workplace; abuse of women with disabilities; forced prostitution; trafficking
Old age Widow abuse; elderly abuse; rape; neglect
Source: Violence Against Women: The Hidden Health Burden, by L. Heise, World Bank Discussion Paper,
Washington, DC, 1994, modified by the Congressional Research Service.
There are many different types of violence against women. Honor killings, for example, occur
when women are stoned, burned, or beaten to death, often by their own family members, in order 27
to preserve the family honor. The practice is most common in Middle Eastern and South Asian
countries, though it has been reported in other parts of the world, such as Latin America and 28
Africa. Dowry-related violence, where victims might be attacked or killed by in-laws for not
bringing a large enough dowry to the marriage, is also prevalent in South Asian countries such as 29
Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh. Female genital cutting (FGC), which has also been referred to
as female genital mutilation (FGM) or female circumcision, is common in some African and
Middle Eastern countries. The World Health Organization estimates that between 100 and 140
million women and girls have undergone a form of the procedure, and that about 3 million girls

25 Examples of random acts of VAW include isolated incidents such as a stranger attacking a woman because of her
gender, or isolated acts of abuse within the family. An example of VAW as sustained abuse over time includes repeated
physical and psychological abuse of a woman during the course of an intimate partner relationship, or a family
relationship (i.e., father-daughter, mother-son, sister-brother).
26 Charlotte Watts, Cathy Zimmerman, “Violence Against Women: Global Scope and Magnitude,” The Lancet, vol.
359, issue 9313, April 6, 2002, p. 1232.
27 Suspicions that a woman has been raped, is pregnant by a man other than her partner, or has had an extramarital or
pre-marital affair may lead to such killings.
28Culture of Discrimination: A Fact Sheet on Honor Killings,”Amnesty International, July 25, 2005, available at
29 As is the case with honor killings, it is difficult to estimate the incidences of dowry-related violence because many of
the deaths are labeled as accidental. Though India has passed (and twice amended) a Dowry Prohibition Law, many say
that the problem continues. For more information, see page 91 of Ending Violence Against Women: A Challenge for
Development and Humanitarian Work, by Francine Pickup, Oxfam GB, 2001.

are at risk each year.30 Some consider child and adolescent marriage, which is particularly
prevalent in parts of the Middle East and Africa, to be a form of violence against women. In such
cases, girls as young as 10 and 12 years old may be married to older men, often with the approval 31
of their parents. Some research indicates that these child brides may face a greater risk of 32
Traditional practices are part of local cultures and are generally considered socially acceptable; in
some cases, they are encouraged by family members and the community. Many experts maintain
that some of these practices are damaging to women. They argue that these “harmful traditional
practices,” including FGC, intimate partner violence, and child marriage, perpetuate unbalanced
sex stereotypes and a cycle of violence. What constitutes a harmful traditional practice, however,
is a matter of perspective. In some cultures, for instance, both men and women may view
violence as a legitimate punishment for female disobedience and as a traditional part of male-33
female relationships. Moreover, some women may not view forced marital sex as rape, or may
endure frequent beatings from their husbands, fathers, sons or boyfriends because of cultural or
familial legacies. In addition, some do not view child marriage as a harmful traditional practice—
instead they see it as a cultural tradition that should be respected.
In recent years, some international advocates have increasingly argued that harmful traditional 34
practices should be addressed through anti-VAW programs. They maintain that anti-VAW efforts
should focus not only on treatment and services for victims of violence, but also on eliminating
harmful traditional practices. Because some of these practices are often a part of a community’s
culture, however, programs that introduce treatment and services may meet resistance. Some
experts argue that harmful traditional practices cannot be significantly altered without sustained,
long-term efforts on the local level with national and international support. Finding the most
appropriate balance and means of intervention is a challenge that highlights a broader debate—
with human rights and individual freedom on the one hand, and the right to preserve culture,
group identity, and tradition on the other.

30Eliminating Female Genital Mutilation: An Interagency Statement,” World Health Organization, 2008, p. 4,
available at For more information,
see CRS Report RS21923, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM): Background Information and Issues for Congress, by
Tiaji Salaam-Blyther, Erin D. Williams, and Ruth Ellen Wasem, and CRS Report RS22810, Asylum Law and Female
Genital Mutilation: Recent Developments, by Yule Kim.
31 Some have estimated that 163 million girls in developing countries between the ages of 10 and 19 will be married by
their 20th birthday (excluding China). For more information, seeInternational Women’s Health Coalition Fact Sheet,”
October 31, 2005, available at
32 For more information, see “A World Apart: The Disadvantage and Social Isolation of Married Adolescent Girls,” by
Nicole Haberland, Erica Chong, Hillary Bracken, The Population Council, July 2004, p. 5.
33 Violence Against Women: A Priority Health Issue, July 1997, available at
34 See “Taking A Stand Against Practices that Harm Women,” U.N. Population Fund, available at; U.N. document EGM/DVGC/2006/EP.4, The Impact of Harmful
Traditional Practices on the Girl Child, prepared by Berhane Ras-Work, U.N. Division for the Advancement of
Women, September 2006; and “Harmful Traditional and Cultural Practices Related to Violence Against Women and
Successful Strategies to Eliminate Such Practices—Working with Men,” by Dr. Michael Flood, U.N. Economic and
Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific Expert Group Meeting, April 26-27, 2006.

The George W. Bush Administration expressed its support for programs addressing international
VAW. In 2007, then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stated that combating VAW was a 35
foreign policy priority. The Administration did not pursue an overall policy focused on VAW
alone, although it initiated several government-wide programs with VAW prevention, treatment, 36
and protection components. These components existed primarily in the context of a program’s
broader mission and often represented a small fraction of the budgets for these programs. This
was particularly true for the President’s Plan for HIV/AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and the Middle
East Partnership Initiative (MEPI). Other Bush Administration initiatives with VAW components
included the Women’s Justice and Empowerment Initiative (WJEI), and an initiative to respond to 37
ongoing and widespread violence against women and girls in Darfur, Sudan.
Most agencies do not track the cost or number of current anti-VAW programs; therefore, it is
unclear how much money the U.S. government, or individual agencies, spends annually on anti-
VAW programs. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Department of 38
State (DOS) are the primary U.S. entities that implement U.S. international anti-VAW programs.
Other agencies and departments that support some programs with anti-VAW components include
the Departments of Defense (DOD), Health and Human Services (HHS), Justice (DOJ), and
Labor (DOL). The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Peace Corps also address 39
aspects of violence against women. (See 0 for a list of selected U.S. offices and bureaus that
have anti-VAW programs.)
In March 2007, U.S. agencies and departments provided information to CRS on programs that
address international VAW either in whole or in part. Approximately 350 U.S. government 40
programs with VAW components across eight agencies have been identified. Capturing the
overall U.S. government response to VAW is complicated by the number of programs, the degree

35 Department of State cable from the Secretary of State to all diplomatic and consular posts (unclassified 142614),
“Message from the Secretary—Taking Action on Violence Against Women,” October 7, 2007.
36 In some instances, the Bush Administration sought to address specific aspects of VAW through international
organizations such as the United Nations. The Administration did not, however, request funding for U.N. mechanisms
that address VAW, including the U.N. Trust Fund in Support of Actions to Eliminate Violence Against Women. From
FY2005 to FY2008, Congress appropriated funding to the Trust Fund without an Administration request.
37 For more information on PEPFAR activities related to VAW, see theGlobal Health” section. For information on
WJEI and MEPI, see theLegal and Political Rights” section. For further information on the Sudan initiative, see the
“Humanitarian Assistance and Refugees” section. The Bush Administration also expressed support for international
efforts to combat VAW, including an International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (November
25), and 16 Days of Activities on Gender-Based Violence (November 25-December 10).
38 Both of these entities support offices that work to coordinate women’s issues. The USAID Bureau for Economic
Growth, Agriculture, and Trade includes the Office of Women in Development; see
cross-cutting_programs/wid/. The State Department Office of the Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs
includes the Office of International Women’s Issues; see
39 DHS, for example, trains its asylum officers on gender issues. Trainees receive a 42-page lesson plan entitled
“Female Asylum Applicants and Gender-Related Claims. The lesson addresses guidelines and policies for several
VAW issues, including rape, FGC, domestic violence, and forced marriage. In addition, Peace Corps volunteers may be
involved in violence prevention efforts related to domestic violence, trafficking, rape, and familial relations. The Peace
Corps supports these activities in over 35 countries.
40 This number includes international anti-trafficking projects obligated in FY2006. The results are based on the first set
of agency/departments submissions. Agencies and departments surveyed by CRS include DOS, USAID, DOL, DOJ,
HHS, DOD, DHS, and Peace Corps.

to which they focus on VAW or are part of a larger initiative, and overlaps in program budget
allocations. Thus, it is possible to generate only a snapshot of activities rather than an all-
inclusive list. The information provided to CRS indicated that funding levels for individuals
programs in FY2006 and FY2007 ranged from $10,000 to $15 million; in many cases, the anti-
VAW component included only a small portion of total program funding. Of these reported
programs, approximately 10% operated globally, 22% in Africa, 21% in Europe/Eurasia, 17% in
the Western Hemisphere, 14% in South/Central Asia, 14% in East Asia/the Pacific, and 2% in the 41
Near East.
U.S. agencies and departments participate in formal and informal intra- and interagency working
groups that address aspects of international violence against women. The State
Department/USAID informal Women’s Justice Issues Working Group, for example, has focused 42
on GBV as part of its activities. The USAID Bureau of Global Health collaborates with a
network of NGOs through the Interagency Gender Working Group (IGWG), which identifies 43
GBV as a priority. The PEPFAR interagency Gender Technical Working Group addresses the 44
links between HIV/AIDS and gender. Moreover, U.S. anti-trafficking efforts are coordinated at
the cabinet level by the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking
(PITF), which is chaired by the Secretary of State. The PITF meets annually to coordinate broad
U.S. anti-trafficking in persons (TIP) policy. The interagency Senior Policy Operating Group
(SPOG) meets quarterly to carry out PITF initiatives and to discuss TIP policy and programming 45

This section describes key VAW issues and discusses examples of related U.S. activities across 46
agencies and departments. Because the U.S. government does not track anti-VAW programs and
funding, it is difficult to determine the extent to which a U.S. initiative, program, or project
addresses violence against women. Therefore, the descriptions of U.S. anti-VAW activities in this
section are largely anecdotal and, in many cases, implemented only in the context of broader
development efforts. This section does not assess the scope of individual programs, or a

41These programs represent only a portion of U.S. programs addressing VAW overseas. CRS relied on U.S. agencies
and departments to provide information on programs, and continues to receive input from agency representatives. This
regional breakdown is based on the State Department regional guides, available at
42 This group is led by the State Department Office of International Women’s Issues and functions mainly as an internal
State/USAID information sharing mechanism. The group was created in April 2007 and has met twice. It has no regular
meeting schedule.
43 More information the IGWG’s gender-based violence activities is available at
44 For more information on the Working Group, see The Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, Report on
Gender-Based Violence and HIV/AIDS, November 2006, available at
45 Both SPOG and PITF are required by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-386; Division A).
For more information, see theTrafficking in Women and Girls section.
46 These U.S. activities are based on information shared with CRS by U.S. government entities.

program’s success in achieving its goal. (For more information, see the “Policy Considerations
for Congress” section.)
The physical and psychological health impacts of VAW are wide-ranging. VAW may lead to
miscarriage or the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS. Women
who become pregnant as a result of rape may be more likely to undergo unsafe abortions, attempt 47
suicide, or be beaten or killed by their partner. In some cultures, an unmarried woman’s
unintended pregnancy may trigger social isolation from family and friends. Women may also be
killed by their spouses or other family members—though there is limited data on the frequency of 48
this phenomenon. Moreover, when young girls are forced to marry and become sexually active
and pregnant, often through coercion, they may experience complications during pregnancy that 49
can result in death or long-term health problems such as obstetric fistula.
VAW can cause psychological issues that may manifest physically. Women who are abused are
more likely to use drugs and alcohol, attempt suicide, and suffer from nervous system disorders 50
and post-traumatic stress syndrome. A 2007 study found that 59% of women who were abused
in the previous year suffered from psychological problems, compared with 20% of women who 51
did not experience any abuse. Moreover, victims of rape, intimate partner violence, and child
sex abuse were found to experience a higher level of post-traumatic stress than victims of other 52
types of violence. According to the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), rape victims were nine 53
times more likely to attempt suicide than non-victims.

47 It has been suggested that a womans fear of experiencing violence at the hand of her sexual partner may make her
less likely to discuss or request contraceptives. A study in Colombia found that women who suffered from intimate
partner violence were more likely to have unintended pregnancies. SeeRelationship Between Intimate Partner
Violence and Unintended Pregnancy: Analysis of a National Sample from Colombia,” International Family Planning
Perspectives, vol. 30, no. 4, December 2004, pp. 165-173.
48 The prevalence of women who are killed by their families is unknown because in many cases their deaths are
considered accidental or not reported. In addition, data on female deaths due to violence might be misreported because
of indirect factors. A victim of rape might contract HIV/AIDS, for example, but in the event of her death, the cause
would likely be attributed to AIDS rather than violence.
49 Obstetric fistula, a hole between the vagina and bladder or rectum through which urine or feces continually leaks, is
often caused by prolonged labor. Fistula survivors are constantly soiled and can be paralyzed from nerve damage. The
condition occurs mostly in Africa and Asia because of limited availability of birth attendants. For more information,
see CRS Report RS21773, Reproductive Health Problems in the World: Obstetric Fistula: Background Information
and Responses, by Tiaji Salaam-Blyther.
50 “Researching Violence Against Women: A Practical Guide for Researchers and Activists, by Mary Ellsberg and
Lori Heise, World Health Organization, 2005, pp. 18-24. Also seeIntimate Partner Violence Prevention Scientific
Information: Consequences from the Department of Health and Human Services website, available at
51 U.N. document, A/61/122/Add.1, July 6, 2007, p. 48. This study was undertaken in Michigan, United States.
52 Ibid.
53 Lynne Stevens, “A Practical Approach to Gender-Based Violence: A Programme Guide for Health Care Providers
and Managers,” U.N. Population Fund, 2001, New York, p. 4.

USAID and HHS support the majority of U.S. health-related VAW prevention and treatment
programs abroad, though other agencies or departments, particularly the State Department, 54
support and provide health services. The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief
(PEPFAR), a five-year, $15 billion government-wide initiative to address HIV/AIDS globally,
allocates some resources to mitigating the health consequences of violence against women.
According to The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief Report on Gender-Based Violence
and HIV/AIDS, $104 million in PEPFAR funds supported 243 activities with a GBV component 55
in FY2006. The report did not explain what constituted a GBV component. The U.S. President’s
Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief 2009 Annual Report to Congress does not address how much
funding is specifically allocated to combating GBV. It states, however, that in FY2008 PEPFAR
spent $1 billion on activities that included a gender focus. According to the report, 407 of these 56
activities addressed violence and coercion.
Many of USAID’s health programs that address aspects of VAW prevention and response are
supported by the Bureau of Global Health (GH) and implemented by regional and country 57
missions. GH includes the Office of Population and Reproductive Health (PRH) and the Office
of HIV/AIDS (OHA). PRH offers strategies to raise awareness about intimate partner violence
and its impact on maternal and reproductive health. Several OHA activities educate audiences on
how sexual violence and coercion can spread HIV/AIDS. According to USAID, OHA programs
also advocate against sexual abuse, provide access to services for rape survivors, and teach
women how to negotiate safe sex. Moreover, USAID addresses FGC prevention, awareness, and
treatment at a variety of levels. USAID missions in Ethiopia, Egypt, Kenya, and Guinea, for
example, support female genital cutting (FGC) prevention activities. In 2004, GH adopted a 58
strategy to deter FGC that targets countries for continued and future support. USAID also 59
focuses on strengthening prevention and treatment services for obstetric fistula.
HHS supports some international programs that facilitate the collection and analysis of data and
demographic surveys that measure the impact of violence on health—particularly reproductive
health. The Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC’s) Monitoring and Evaluation to Assess and Use
Results (MEASURE) program, for example, works with USAID country and regional missions to
develop, implement, and analyze national reproductive health surveys that provide population-
based data on reproductive health indicators, including the prevalence of violence against

54 The State Department Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), for example, offers physical and
psychological health services to some refugees and internally displaced persons.
55 See The Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, Report on Gender-Based Violence and HIV/AIDS, November
2006, available at
56 U.S. Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief 2009 Annual Report to Congress, available at
57 For a list of USAID missions, see
58 Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Guinea, Kenya, Mali, and Sudan have been identified for future support. The USAID FGC
Strategy adopted by GH is available at
fgc_strategy.pdf. For more information on USAID efforts to combat FGC, see
59 The USAID Fistula Care program is a five-year, $70 million initiative to strengthen the capacity of hospital centers
to provide fistula repair, raise community awareness, and enhance research efforts to improve fistula services. For more
information, see

women.60 CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC) works with
partners, including the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF), to provide technical assistance on data
collection, assess patterns of VAW and children, and examine possible prevention strategies and 61
policies to address violence. HHS has also worked with WHO to build regional frameworks in 62
three countries for VAW prevention. Furthermore, as a PEPFAR implementing partner, CDC’s
Global AIDS Program supports prevention and response programs to address the relationship
between VAW and HIV. The programs include HIV post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) in clinical 63
settings for survivors of sexual violence; strengthening linkages among health, community, and
legal services that provide protection and care for victims; and HIV prevention programs that 64
focus on VAW prevention.
During humanitarian crises and armed conflict (or occupation), populations become vulnerable to
an array of threats—including VAW—and often lack protection from their governments,
communities, and families. This underscores reports that levels of VAW increase during conflict
and remain a large risk in the aftermath of upheaval in post-conflict areas or during the 65
emergency phase following a natural disaster. Rape and other forms of sexual abuse reported 66
during periods of armed conflict are common and in some cases may be systematic. Those who
are displaced—IDPs and those attempting to return home (returnees)—often lack protection and 67
remain vulnerable, sometimes for years. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
estimates that in the majority of refugee situations worldwide, close to 50% of the displaced are
women and girls and that sexual violence is one of the most common crimes committed against 68

60 Some countries use MEASURE data to evaluate current health programs and interventions, assess reproductive
health status, inform policy, and build national research capacity. CDC’s Division of Reproductive Health is currently
implementing MEASURE in Paraguay, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Georgia, and Jamaica. For more information, see 61
The data are used to assess sexual violence patterns and identify areas for further research.
62 The CDC/NCIPC Division of Violence Prevention, for example, entered into a cooperative agreement with the WHO
to launch a framework through pilot programs in three low and middle-income countries. For more information, see
63 PEP, as defined by the WHO, is a short-term antiretroviral treatment to reduce the likelihood of HIV infection after
potential exposure, either occupationally or through sexual intercourse. For more information, see
64 Some programs also include couples counseling and HIV testing, as well as support for community and faith-based
organizations to change social norms that perpetuate male violence against women.
65 Guidelines for Gender-Based Violence Intervention in Humanitarian Settings: Focus on Prevention of and Response
to Sexual Violence in Emergencies, U.N. Interagency Standing Committee (IASC), September 2005.
66 Available data on the prevalence of such cases are unreliable because of constantly shifting populations, unstable
circumstances in conflict zones, and social stigmas associated with rape. For a discussion of sexual violence and armed
conflict, see briefing paper by Jeanne Ward and Mendy Marsh, “Sexual Violence Against Women and Girls in War and
its Aftermath: Realities, Responses, and Required Resources,” June 2006.
67 Care for refugees and internally displaced persons is needed in all phases of the refugee and displacement cycle—
during conflict, during flight from conflict, in the country of asylum or location of displacement, and during
repatriation and reintegration. Durable solutions usually involve one of three options: voluntary return, local
integration, or resettlement.
68 Sexual Violence Against Refugees: Guidelines on Prevention and Response, UNHCR, 1995, available at

Other forms of VAW, such as sexual exploitation and “survival sex” (when a person engages in
sex in exchange for money or material assistance as a means of survival), domestic violence, and
traditional practices that prove harmful, occur with frequency. In addition, long periods of
displacement and frustration can lead to VAW within families and communities. In such insecure
environments, the high degree of fear, lawlessness, and lack of judicial procedure and
enforcement means that many perpetrators are not prosecuted or punished. Often, survivors are
left with little recourse and suffer related problems such as emotional and physical health risks,
unwanted pregnancies, HIV infection, and rejection by family. In some cases, humanitarian and
peacekeeping workers themselves are perpetrators, not the deterrent force, of violence against 69
women. VAW is also a documented problem in conflict settings such as Darfur, Sudan, Chad, 70
and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Members of the international community—including governments, international organizations,
NGOs, and others—work on collaborative and separate initiatives to develop prevention and 71
response strategies to protect vulnerable populations, particularly women and girls. These
projects are undertaken with an eye toward strengthening the protection of displaced women and 72
promoting gender equality. Many experts view increasing the capacity of states and host
communities as a priority for implementing sustained, effective measures.
U.S. activities addressing VAW in humanitarian and refugee settings are often incorporated into
other refugee programs and activities, including basic humanitarian services, treatment, and
education. Because of this, it is a challenge to determine the total number and scope of U.S.
activities that address VAW in refugee settings. As the issue has gained attention, however, VAW 73
has in some instances become the main focus of specific programs. In the humanitarian sector,
the U.S. government’s response to VAW comes from the State Department’s Bureau for
Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM), and USAID’s Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and
Humanitarian Assistance through its Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) and Office of 74
Transition Initiatives (OTI). USAID missions may also be involved at the regional and country 75
level.Implementing partners include several actors, including U.N. agencies, such as UNHCR,

69 See U.N. documents: A/59/782, October 11, 2002, Investigation into Sexual Exploitation of Refugees by Aid Workers
in West Africa, and A/60/861, May 24, 2006, Special Measures for Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual
70 In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the International Committee for the Red Cross provide support to victims
of sexual violence perpetrated by armed groups.
71 FY2006 PRM funding for Prevention and Response to Gender-Based Violence, and CRS discussions with PRM,
October 2007. Also see Department of State, Migration and Refugee Assistance, Emergency Refugee and Migration
Assistance, FY2009, Congressional Presentation Document.
72 Ibid.
73 In FY2006, for example, PRM supported a program in Thailand that worked to improve community-based services
addressing gender-based violence among refugees in the Mae Hong Song province (FY2006 funding: $283,501). PRM
also supported a sexual abuse and exploitation prevention program in Liberia (FY2006 funding: $167,156) and a
program in Tanzania that provides legal, medical, counseling, and other services to gender-based violence survivors
(FY2006 funding: $103,668). Both of these programs were funded under the Migration and Refugee Assistance (MR)
74 For more information, see CRS Report RL33769, International Crises and Disasters: U.S. Humanitarian Assistance,
Budget Trends, and Issues for Congress, by Rhoda Margesson.
75 See also USAID’s “Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and Protection Programs, Fact Sheet #1, FY2007,
November 2006.

and international organizations, such as the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and
many NGOs, including the American Refugee Committee and the International Rescue
PRM began addressing VAW through its refugee assistance programs in FY2000. Since then, it
has provided nearly $28 million toward programming for refugee and IDP populations. In
FY2006, it provided approximately $4.4 million to support VAW-related activities. (This
represents roughly .5% of total Migration and Refugee Assistance account actual funding in 76
FY2006, which was $858.79 million.)According to PRM, the 2006 projects built local capacity
among Afghan refugee populations in Pakistan, reduced incidences of sexual violence among
returnees in Burundi, prevented sexual exploitation and abuse in the Kenya and Liberia refugee 77
programs, and supported programs for VAW survivors in Tanzania. PRM has more recently
been discussing VAW preventive measures in the context of the massive Iraqi population 78
In FY2007 and FY2008, USAID supported a number of programs, including projects in Liberia
to address and raise awareness about sexual exploitation and violence; technical evaluations of
energy efficient stoves in Uganda and Darfur to help reduce women’s exposure to sexual abuse
while traveling long distances to find firewood; and support for health and livelihood recovery
programs in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sri Lanka, and Kenya. In addition, a $15
million initiative in Darfur, Sudan, focused on improving the physical safety of vulnerable 79
populations, some of which benefited women. Other reported activities include establishing
emergency protection-sensitive shelter in IDP camps and schools, educational activities,
counseling, and case management. Most projects were funded through small grants to local
community-based organizations and larger humanitarian assistance programs implemented by
international NGOs.
The issue of VAW awareness training and education for foreign military and peacekeeping troops
was brought to the fore by events in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2004. Cases of
sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) by U.N. peacekeepers had been documented in the 1990s 80
and early 2000s in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Cambodia, East Timor, and West Africa.
After a special review of the situation, then-U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan recommended

76 CRS requested FY2008 funding information on PRM VAW-related activities. The information has not yet been
received, and will be added to this report as it becomes available.
77 For more information on Afghan Refugees, see CRS Report RL33851, Afghan Refugees: Current Status and Future
Prospects, by Rhoda Margesson.
78 For more information, see CRS Report RL33936, Iraqi Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons: A Deepening
Humanitarian Crisis? by Rhoda Margesson, Jeremy M. Sharp, and Andorra Bruno.
79 USAID OTI leads this initiative to enhance the safety and basic rights of vulnerable civilians, particularly women,
affected by conflict in Darfur. According to USAID, this initiative works to minimize women’s exposure to violence,
monitor and document violence, and increase access to victim services. For more information, see
80 “Fighting Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by U.N. Peacekeepers,by Jonas Hagen, U.N. Chronicle, December 13,
2006, available at

that the U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations organize intensive training for 81
The Department of Defense provides VAW training and education through a small number of
programs. Most of the VAW content in DOD programs for international students is incorporated
into programs for peacekeepers and military forces participating in disaster and humanitarian
relief operations. Funding for the VAW-related components of these programs is generally
incorporated into the overall program budgets and not separably identifiable. The U.S. Global
Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI), for example, trains foreign peacekeepers and incorporates 82
VAW and SEA content in its training exercises. Three of GPOI’s four regional components,
Africa, Western Hemisphere, and Asia, reported VAW content in their training, and the African 83
program is considering expanding its VAW training.
VAW topics are incorporated into curricula at some DOD educational and training institutions.
The DOD-funded Center of Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance
(CoE-DMHA), for example, reports a broad and apparently growing number of training and 84
education modules on VAW and SEA. These programs—sometimes funded through DOD
accounts, sometimes by the Department of State—are offered throughout the world to foreign
government personnel, including civilians, military, and police, as well as NGOs. Similarly,
DOD’s Defense Institute of International Legal Studies (DIILS), which trains and educates
military personnel and civilian government officials on international legal issues, offers a one-
hour module related to gender-based violence in a resident course on conducting military and 85
peacekeeping operations. DIILS also incorporates gender-based violence issues in mobile
courses, and has addressed VAW in occasional special courses prepared, on request, for foreign
militaries. For instance, in 2008, DIILS conducted 12 separate week-long seminars on
Investigation and Prosecution of Sex Crimes for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) armed 86

81 Letter dated March 24, 2005, from the Secretary-General to the President of the General Assembly. U.N. document
A/59/710, March 24, 2005. For more information on U.N. peacekeeping, see CRS Report RL33700, United Nations
Peacekeeping: Issues for Congress, by Marjorie Ann Browne.
82 According to the State Department, GPOI aims to train some 75,000 foreign troops in peacekeeping skills by the end
of 2010. The program is funded through the State Department’s Peacekeeping account (PKO) and is administered by
the State Department Bureau of African Affairs (the Sub-Saharan Africa component). Some 96% of the more than
28,000 troops trained through March 2007 were from African nations, and the program is attempting to diversify by
incorporating troops from other areas. For more information, see
83 The Center for Excellence for Police Stability Units (CoESPU) in Italywhich receives GPOI funding and currently
has a U.S. military officer as its Deputy Director—also reports an hour of SEA content in its five and six week
programs for civilian police trainers.
84 CoE-DMHA offers several education and training programs designed to promote effective civil-military
management in international humanitarian assistance, disaster response, and peacekeeping. More information is
available at
85 DIILS also incorporates gender-based violence issues in mobile courses, and has addressed VAW in occasional
special courses prepared on request for foreign militaries. The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation,
a DOD school which provides professional education and training for civilian, military, and law enforcement students
from nations in the Western Hemisphere, also addresses issues related to VAW in its human rights course.
86 These seminars, held in Kinshasa and eight interior locations, were attended by investigators and magistrates of the
DRC armed forcesmilitary justice system. For 2009 and 2010, DIILS plans to include one to two hours of instruction
related to sexual violence in seminars for operational commanders and staff officers of the DRC armed forces. CRS

In recent years, Congress has worked to incorporate VAW awareness into foreign military
training. The Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act,

2006, required that training on gender-based violence be included, where appropriate, as a 87

component of programs funded through bilateral assistance and military assistance accounts.
These accounts include funding for the education and training of foreign military and civilian
defense personnel. The Foreign Operations appropriations section of the Consolidated 88
Appropriations Act, 2008, also includes the provision.
Trafficking in women and girls is a high-profile form of violence against women. It gained
attention in the United States and worldwide in the late 1990s, and is considered by many experts st
to be one of the leading criminal enterprises of the early 21 Century. Female victims of
trafficking are often subjected to physical and mental abuse in order to keep them in servitude,
including beating, rape, starvation, forced drug use, confinement, and seclusion. Victims may be
forced to have sex, often unprotected, with large numbers of partners, and to work unsustainably
long hours. Studies have found that trafficking occurs in every country and disproportionately
affects women and girls. The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates women and girls
account for 56% of victims in forced economic exploitation, such as domestic service,
agricultural work, and manufacturing—and 98% of victims in forced commercial sexual 89
exploitation. The vulnerability of women and girls is due to a number of factors in source, 90
transit, and destination countries.
Many experts conclude that a country is more likely to become a source of human trafficking if it
has recently experienced political upheaval, armed conflict, economic crisis, or natural disaster—
phenomena that tend to have a disproportionate impact on women and children. Even in the
absence of a major crisis, chauvinistic attitudes and limited educational and job opportunities for

email correspondence with DIILS, January 27, 2009.
87 Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2006, Section 573, “Programs
funded under titles II and III of this Act that provide training for foreign police, judicial, and military officials, shall
include, where appropriate, programs and activities that address gender-based violence, (P.L. 109-102; 119 Stat. 229;
November 14, 2005). This provision scaled down the provision in the House-passed version of that act (H.R. 3057),
which would have required that all police, judicial, and military training funded by the act to include GBV training.
88 See Division J, Section 660:Programs funded under titles III and IV of this Act that provide training for foreign
policy, judicial, and military officials, shall include, where appropriate, programs and activities that address gender-
based violence,” (P.L. 110-161; 121 Stat. 1844; December 26, 2007). A similar provision was included in the House-
passed version of the FY2007 Foreign Operations Appropriations bill (H.R. 5522), but not in the Senate-passed version
of the bill.
89 The State Department estimates that between 600,000 and 800,000 people are trafficked across borders each year. If
trafficking within countries is included in the total world figures, the State Department estimates that between 2 to 4
million people are trafficked annually; see The International Labor
Organization (ILO) estimates that there are some 12.3 million victims of forced labor at any given time. For more
information, see A Global Alliance Against Forced Labor, ILO, 2005.
90 While there is no single victim stereotype, many trafficked women are under the age of 25, with many in their mid-
to late teens. In Latin America, for example, research indicates that children tend to be trafficked within their own
countries, while women between the ages of 18 and 30 are often trafficked internationally, sometimes with the consent
of their husbands or other family members. See Laura Langberg, “A Review of Recent OAS Research on Human
Trafficking in the Latin American and Caribbean Region,” in Data and Research on Human Trafficking: A Global
Survey, International Organization for Migration (IOM), 2005.

women and girls in many source countries place them at-risk for trafficking.91 Such circumstances
often intersect with other racial, ethnic, and class disparities to make poor and minority women
and girls especially vulnerable to trafficking. Families in some of the most impoverished
countries have reportedly sold their daughters to brothels or traffickers for the immediate payoff
and to avoid having to pay their dowries in the future. In transit and destination countries, female
migrant workers are reported to be at particular risk of trafficking and other forms of exploitation 92
because of their subordinate economic status. Women and children are also frequently trafficked
to work in sweatshops and as domestic servants.
The U.S. government supports several types of anti-trafficking in persons (anti-TIP) initiatives
overseas, many of which focus on women and girls. However, there is no official record of how
many U.S. anti-TIP programs specifically address the trafficking of women and girls. U.S. anti-
trafficking policy has long emphasized prevention, protection, and prosecution. As discussed
below, prevention programs combine public awareness campaigns with education and
employment opportunities for those at-risk of trafficking, particularly women and girls.
Protection programs directly support shelters, as well as train local service providers, public
officials, and religious groups to identify and protect trafficking victims. Some programs also
improve the prosecution rates of traffickers and help countries draft or amend existing anti-TIP
laws and train law enforcement and judiciaries to enforce those laws.
Many U.S. anti-TIP programs operate under the authority of the Victims of Trafficking and 93
Violence Protection Act of 2000 or TVPA, as amended. In FY2007, the U.S. government
obligated an estimated $79 million in anti-trafficking assistance to foreign governments. U.S.
agencies and departments supported roughly 180 global and regional anti-trafficking programs in 94
90 countries. This is up from $74 million in FY2006. For FY2009, the Administration requested
some $31.2 million for trafficking and migrant smuggling programs to be carried out by the State
Department and USAID in FY2009. The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of

2005 (TVPRA), P.L. 109-164, authorizes appropriations for anti-TIP programs in FY2006 and 95

FY2007. The TVPRA increases support to foreign trafficking victims in the United States,
addresses some of the needs of child victims, and directs U.S. agencies to develop anti-trafficking
programs for post-conflict situations and humanitarian emergencies abroad.
Many U.S. anti-trafficking programs abroad are administered by the State Department, USAID,
and the Department of Labor. Since 2001, the State Department has evaluated foreign
governments’ anti-TIP efforts in its annual Trafficking in Persons report, which is issued each
June. In addition, the State Department PRM office funds programs focused on victim’s
assistance, return, and reintegration. The Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons

91 U.N. Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), “Trafficking in Persons, A Gender & Rights Perspective Briefing
Kit,” 2002.
92 U.N. document, E/CN.4/2000/76, Report of the Secretary General on Violence Against Women Migrant Workers,
December 9, 1999.
93 For more information, see CRS Report RL34317, Trafficking in Persons: U.S. Policy and Issues for Congress, by
Clare Ribando Seelke and Alison Siskin.
94 The U.S. Trafficking in Persons Report 2007 is available at A list of U.S.
anti-TIP project obligated in FY2007 is available at
95 P.L. 109-164 (January 10, 2002; 22 U.S.C. 7101 et seq.).

(G-TIP) and the Bureau of Europe and Eurasian Affairs support prevention and public awareness
campaigns, victim’s assistance programs, and anti-TIP law enforcement programs. G-TIP and the
Bureau of Education and Cultural Exchanges also sponsor TIP-related research and exchange
USAID has supported prevention programs that include education and income generation for
potential victims, protection programs, including training and support for local victim services 96
providers, and anti-TIP training for police, prosecutors, and judges. In addition, the Department
of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs works to provide assistance to child victims of
trafficking, support public awareness campaigns, and build capacity for governments and service
providers that combat TIP. Moreover, the Department of Justice’s International Criminal Training
Assistance Program (ICITAP) and Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance,
and Training (OPDAT) provide some anti-TIP training for law enforcement and judicial officials 97
Some experts maintain that to successfully address VAW on a global level, national governments
and communities must strengthen the capacity of their political, legal, and law enforcement
institutions. In some countries, for example, legal and political institutions may hinder rather than
help women seeking information, assistance, and protection from violence. Many experts
maintain that addressing possible weaknesses in these institutions is especially crucial in some
developing countries where national government infrastructures may be weakened by poverty,
corruption, or other factors. Some have increasingly advocated the value of providing women
with education and training to prevent and address violence and gender discrimination in both
public and private life.
The U.S. government supports programs that aim to strengthen the legal and political capacity of
women in developing countries. Because of the cross-cutting nature of U.S. programs that address
VAW, however, the number and cost of programs addressing its political, legal, and legislative
aspects are difficult to quantify. In 2005, President Bush announced the creation of the Women’s
Justice and Empowerment Initiative (WJEI), a three-year, $55 million program to improve legal 98
rights for women in Benin, Kenya, South Africa, and Zambia. Some observers, however, were
concerned that the Administration delayed or did not meet its funding obligations for WJEI. The
Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), which is implemented by the Department of State,
also focused some of its resources on VAW and women’s empowerment. It supported programs

96 Between FY2001 and FY2007, USAID provided over $100 million for anti-TIP programs; see
97 ICITAP and OPDAT are part of the DOJ Criminal Division. ICITAP aims to build the capacity of foreign
government law enforcement service. For more information, see OPDAT
provides technical and developmental assistance for foreign justice sector institutions and their law enforcement
personnel. More information available at In past years, both ICITAP and
OPDAT have also addressed other aspects of VAW, including domestic violence and sexual violence against women.
98 More information on WJEI is available at

that provided training for judges and legal professionals on types of VAW, including honor 99
killings and intimate partner violence.
The State Department, USAID, and DOJ support other programs and activities that aim to
strengthen the legal and political capacity of national governments. The State Department’s
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL), for example, funds initiatives in sub-
Saharan Africa to support work on the rule of law, empowerment of women and youth, and 100
democracy initiatives. The USAID Office of Women in Development (WID) recently
supported the Women’s Legal Rights Initiative (WLRI), which aimed to strengthen the capacity
of women to work for greater economic and legal rights in Albania, Guatemala, Benin, South 101
Africa, and Rwanda. A USAID WID program in Ethiopia also works with community leaders
to advocate the enforcement of laws that address harmful traditional practices such as bride 102
abduction. Other reported U.S. activities include training specialists and advocates on how to
effectively influence foreign governments to address VAW, and working with governments and
NGOs in developing countries to draft legislation on women’s rights. Moreover, the USAID Safe
Schools program works with partners at national, institutional, community, and individual levels 103
to combat school-related gender-based violence.

International organizations, particularly the United Nations and its specialized agencies, support
myriad mechanisms and programs that address VAW in all parts of the world.

A July 2006 study by the U.N. Secretariat found that 32 U.N. entities work to combat VAW on a 105
global, national, or local level. Their activities range from large-scale interagency efforts to

99 MEPI works to promote democracy in the Middle East by funding NGOs, businesses, and universities working
toward democratic reform. It was introduced as a presidential initiative in 2002. In five years, it has provided
approximately $430 million for over 350 projects in 17 countries and territories. In FY2006, funding for the Women’s
Pillar” was $15 million. More information on MEPI is available at
100 The grants are administered through the State Department Human Rights Democracy Fund (HRDF) National
Endowment for Democracy (NED). HRDF supports programming to build democratic principles and institutions and
promote human rights worldwide. In past years, DRL and HRDF funded FGC awareness and prevention projects in
Africa. More information is available at
101 The WRLI project has closed, and the final report is available at
102 The USAID WID office is collaborating with CARE on a three-year project to raise awareness of bride abduction.
The program intends work with local leaders to advocate the enforcement of laws that reduce early marriage and bride
103 The Safe Schools program is a five-year project piloted in Ghana and Malawi. It is funded by the USAID Office of
Women in Development. It began in September 2003 and will close in September 2008. For more information, see and
104 The U.N. efforts listed in this section represent only a selection of U.N. system agencies, activities, and agreements
that address violence against women. Also see U.N. document A/61/122/Add.1, July 6, 2006, and Preventing and
Eliminating Violence Against Women: An Inventory of United Nations System Activities On Violence Against
Women, July 2007.
105 U.N. document, A/61/122/Add.1, July 6, 2006, p. 20.

smaller grants and programs implemented by NGOs, national governments, or individual U.N.
agencies. Agencies that work to combat VAW include the U.N. Development Program (UNDP),
the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF), UNIFEM, WHO, ILO, the Joint U.N. Program on
HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the U.N. Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the U.N. Population
Fund (UNFPA), and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The U.N.
Secretariat’s Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) has also made efforts to address
the problem of violence against women by U.N. peacekeepers.
Many U.N. member states are parties to international conventions and agreements that address
VAW and women’s rights, including the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child
(CRC), and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially 106
Women and Children (Trafficking Protocol). U.N. member states have also demonstrated
concern for VAW through World Conferences on Women and resolutions adopted by the U.N.
Security Council. Between 1974 and 1995, for example, U.N. member states—including the
United States—participated in four World Conferences on Women. The Fourth Conference,
which was held in 1995 in Beijing, China, identified VAW as a human rights concern and an
obstacle to the achievement of women’s equality. In addition, U.N. Security Council Resolution

1325 on Women, Peace and Security, adopted on October 31, 2000, highlights the need to protect 107

women and girls from human rights abuses.
U.N. system anti-VAW activities are part of a much larger international effort composed of many
international actors. NGOs, international financial institutions, and intergovernmental and
regional organizations such as the International Organization for Migration (IOM), World Bank,
and European Union (EU) develop, fund, and implement anti-VAW initiatives and programs at all 108
levels of society. The World Bank, for example, supports pilot projects in Bolivia, Honduras, 109
and Nicaragua to improve awareness of VAW in their health systems. The EU’s Daphne II and
Daphne III Programs, which complement existing EU member state efforts to combat VAW,
support organizations that work to prevent or combat violence against children, young people,

106 The U.S. government ratified the Trafficking Protocol in December 2005, but has not ratified CEDAW or CRC
because of concerns over U.S. sovereignty. For CEDAW, see Letter from Secretary of State Colin Powell to Senator
Joseph Biden, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, July 8, 2002. For CRC, see United States
Participation in the United Nations: Report by the Secretary of State to the Congress for Year 2002, Department of
State Publication 11086, October 2003, p. 70.
107 On June 19, 2008, members of the U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1820 as a follow-up to
Resolution 1325. Resolution 1820demands the immediate and complete cessation by all parties to armed conflict in
all acts of sexual violence against civilians with immediate effect.” See U.N. document, S/RES/1820 (2008). For more
information on U.N. efforts to address violence against women, see CRS Report RL34518, United Nations System
Efforts to Address Violence Against Women, by Luisa Blanchfield.
108 IOM has worked with international partners on a variety of VAW-related issues. It has, for example, conducted a
study on GBV faced by female migrant workers. For more information on this study, see
joomla/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=83&Itemid=143. It has also supported activities that address
HIV/AIDS and GBV in countries such as Zimbabwe. For more information, see
109 The World Bank also provided Uruguay with a $300,000 grant to combat domestic violence through legal and
legislative reform. For more information on World Bank efforts to combat VAW, see U.N. document A/61/122/Add.1,
July 6, 2006, and Preventing and Eliminating Violence Against Women: An Inventory of United Nations System
Activities On Violence Against Women, July 2007, p. 78.

and women.110 In addition, regional organizations such as the Organization of American States
(OAS) have adopted agreements that address violence against women. The OAS Inter-American
Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women, for
example, entered into force on March 5, 1994, and declares that “every woman has the right to be 111
free from violence in both the public and private spheres.” Parties to the Convention agree to
condemn all forms of VAW and to pursue policies to prevent, punish and eradicate violence. The
United States has not signed or ratified the Convention.

For more than a decade, Congress has demonstrated an ongoing interest in addressing
international violence against women. It has passed legislation addressing specific types of VAW, 112
such as human trafficking and FGC, and has adopted legislation addressing VAW in different 113
regions and countries, particularly in Africa and Asia. In some cases, Congress has
incorporated VAW components into legislation and programs addressing international HIV/AIDS 114
prevention and foreign military and law enforcement training. Congress has also committed
resources to the UNIFEM Trust Fund in Support of Actions to Eliminate Violence Against
Women, an international mechanism that addresses violence against women. In addition, 115
Congress has adopted resolutions expressing concern about VAW events in specific countries.
The 110th Congress considered legislation addressing VAW on both a global and regional level.
Enacted legislation ranged from resolutions denouncing types of VAW such as FGC, honor
killings, and other forms of violence, to calling on the President and the international community

110 The EU’s Daphne II and Daphne III programs run from 2002 to 2008, and 2007 to 2013, respectively. The Daphne
II program receives approximately 50 million euros in overall funding (about $74 million U.S. dollars). For more
information on these activities, see
111 Thirty-two OAS member states have adopted or ratified the Convention. The United States, which is an OAS
member, has not signed or ratified the treaty. For more information, see
112 In 2000, for example, Congress passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, or TVPA, as amended,
which addressed human trafficking (P.L. 106-386). In addition, Congress criminalized the practice of FGM in §645 of
the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-208; 18 U.S.C. §116; September
30, 1996). The conference report accompanying the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs
Appropriations Act, 2001 (P.L. 106-429; November 11, 2000), contained language requiring the Department of State to th
compile statistics on FGM. See 106 Congress, Report 106-997, 2d session, October 24, 2000.
113 For example, the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2006, requires
that fundsshould be made available for programs in sub-Saharan Africa to address sexual and gender-based violence”
(P.L. 109-102; 119 Stat. 2177; September 30, 2006). Section 576(b) of the same Act requires thatnot less than
$1,500,000 should be made available for ... crimes of violence specifically targeting women ... in Guatemala (119 Stat.
114 See United States Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act of 2003, (P.L. 108-25; 22 U.S.C.
7601 et seq.; May 27, 2003). Also see Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations
Act, 2006,which states that the U.S. military, where appropriate, shall incorporate GBV training into its programs and
activities (P.L. 109-102; Section 573, 119 Stat. 2229; November 14, 2005).
115 H.Res. 100 (110th), for example, expresses sympathy to the families of women and girls murdered in Guatemala and
encourages the government of Guatemala to bring an end to crimes against women. The House passed the resolution on
October 9, 2007. S.Res. 178 also expresses the sympathy of the Senate to the families of women and girls murdered in
Guatemala. The resolution was agreed to by unanimous consent on March 10, 2008.

to take immediate action on acts of sexual VAW and girls as a result of conflict in Sudan.116 Other
proposed legislation included the reauthorization of anti-trafficking laws and bills addressing 117
international violence against women. When considering United States and international efforts th
to address violence against women, Members of the 111 Congress may wish to take a number of
issues into account.
Some experts argue that U.S. government programs and initiatives do not sufficiently address
international violence against women. They maintain that current anti-VAW funding levels do not
reflect the scope of the problem, and, further, that many of the programs in place are not
adequately funded. Some cite the fact that in FY2006, for example, the State Department Office
of Population, Refugees, and Migration reported $4.4 million in VAW-related activities—
representing .5% of actual FY2006 Migration and Refugee Assistance Account funding of
$858.79 million. Others argue that many U.S. anti-VAW programs are short in duration and often
not renewed—making it a challenge for programs to have a substantive long-term impact.
Some experts also suggest that when highlighting U.S. efforts to combat VAW, the U.S.
government places too much emphasis on programs with VAW components, as opposed to
programs solely addressing the issue. This may create the appearance that the U.S. government
commits significant resources to addressing international VAW—when, according to some, the
United States does not do enough. A 2006 USAID report on gender-based violence and
HIV/AIDS, for example, identified 243 PEPFAR programs that incorporate gender-based 118
violence components in FY2006. Some are concerned that these components do not constitute
a substantial anti-VAW effort. Some also contend that U.S. anti-VAW initiatives that have been
promised, such as the Bush Administration’s proposed Women’s Justice Empowerment Initiative 119
(WJEI), were not adequately funded or implemented.
Some experts and policymakers question whether U.S. programs addressing VAW should be
further integrated into U.S. foreign assistance programs. Supporters of increased integration
maintain that, in addition to receiving attention as a stand-alone global health and human rights
issue, VAW should be a component of broader U.S. foreign assistance efforts—including health

116 H.Res. 32 (110th) expresses the sense of the House of Representatives that the President and fellow donor countries
promote the rights, health, and empowerment of women. It was passed on May 1, 2007. H.Res. 726, (110th) calls on the
President and the International Community to “respond to and Prevent Acts of Rape and Sexual Violence against
women and girls in Darfur, Sudan, eastern Chad, and the Central African Republic.” The House passed the resolution
on October 10, 2007.
117 See H.R. 3887, the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2007, passed by the
House on December 4, 2007, by a vote of 405-2; S. 2279, the International Violence Against Women Act of 2007; and
H.R. 5927, the International Violence Against Women Act of 2008.
118 The Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief Report on Gender-Based Violence and HIV/AIDS, November
119 For more information, see statements by Human Rights Watch and the Global Aids Alliance, at
reports/2007/zambia1207/9.htm and, respectively.

services, development, human rights, foreign military training and law enforcement training,
humanitarian assistance, and legal and political reform. They argue that additional funding is
needed to adequately coordinate government-wide efforts and fund current and future U.S.
programs and activities.
Some have expressed concern that the U.S. government does not adequately coordinate its anti-
VAW efforts. Many argue that in order to effectively combat VAW, the U.S. government should
actively track its anti-VAW programs and establish mechanisms that will identify potential gaps
and weaknesses in U.S. approaches. Some observers have reportedly found it difficult to assess
the adequacy of U.S. efforts in this area because of the lack of anti-VAW program data collection,
coordination, and analysis. Some have proposed that the government establish a discrete office or
coordinating body to address U.S. efforts to address violence against women. Such actions, they
argue, may be a valuable tool for policymakers who wish to prevent the possible duplication of
U.S. anti-VAW activities and more effectively disseminate best practices among and within U.S.
government agencies.
Some experts contend that providing financial and technical support to international organizations
that address VAW is a particularly effective use of U.S. resources. They maintain that such
cooperation benefits the United States because it allows the U.S. government to share anti-VAW-
related costs and resources with other governments and organizations. Opponents argue that the
U.S. government should focus on its own anti-VAW initiatives, and emphasize that U.N. activities
addressing VAW, for example, may not always align with U.S. priorities.
Were Congress to opt to use U.N. mechanisms to combat VAW, there are a number of programs
and options that might be considered. The United Nations and its specialized agencies support a
range of programs to eliminate violence against women. UNIFEM, for example, administers the
U.N. Trust Fund in Support of Actions to Eliminate Discrimination Against Women, an
interagency mechanism to fund and promote U.N. actions on violence against women. In recent
years, some policymakers have recognized the Trust Fund as a possible tool for combating 120
international violence against women. For a discussion of U.N. system programs and
mechanisms that address VAW, see CRS Report RL34518, United Nations System Efforts to
Address Violence Against Women, by Luisa Blanchfield.
Finding ways to address VAW is a significant and ongoing challenge for the U.S. government and th
the international community. There may be a number of oversight issues of interest to the 111

120 In FY2006, Congress appropriated $1.485 million to the Trust Fund. In FY2007, Congress appropriated $1.485
million, and in FY2008 it appropriated $1.785 million.

Some governments, particularly those of developing countries, lack the political, legislative, and
financial infrastructures to establish and maintain policies and programs to eliminate violence 121
against women. A U.N. study on VAW, for example, found that 102 of the 192 U.N. member
states lack domestic legal provisions addressing intimate partner violence. Such countries, which
may face other challenges such as poverty, health epidemics, and political unrest, may not view
combating VAW as a policy priority—either because they do not view it as a significant problem
or lack the resources to address it. Moreover, in some cases, national governments may pass laws
that support anti-VAW policies, but ineffective legal, political, or law enforcement infrastructures
may hinder their ability to implement and enforce laws and provide the necessary support
services to be effective.
Some experts disagree on the most effective methods to address violence against women. This
lack of consensus may pose a challenge for policymakers who determine funding levels for and
implementation of anti-VAW programs. There is debate, for example, over where to draw the line 122
between the need to protect women’s rights and to preserve their freedom of choice. Moreover,
in the past, some experts have disagreed on how to most effectively allocate scarce resources for
anti-VAW programs. Some maintained that anti-VAW programs should focus on providing
treatment services for VAW victims, while others contended that programs should focus on
prevention and the root causes of violence. Many experts have concluded, however, that the most
effective anti-VAW approaches address both prevention and treatment.
Local, national, and international governments and NGOs implement thousands of anti-VAW
programs annually, but few of these programs are evaluated for their effectiveness. Many anti-
VAW programs tend to be short in duration (one to two years) and have small budgets, which 123
some fear may leave little time and financial resources for evaluations. Consequently, some
argue, experts and policymakers may have difficulty gauging a program’s effectiveness. Some
believe that this may lead to scarce resources being allocated to programs with limited impact. In
recent years, some analysts have increasingly recognized the importance of program evaluation,
and are taking steps to improve data collection instruments, share existing best practices, and
improve coordination among funding and implementing organizations. Some experts have
advocated for program donors and members of the policy community to provide additional
funding for program evaluations when funding anti-VAW projects and programs or providing 124
technical assistance.

121 U.N. document, A/61/122/Add.1, July 6, 2007, p. 23.
122 Drawn from U.N. document, A/61/122/Add.1, July 6, 2007, p. 24, paragraph 59.
123 Small program budgets may also not allow for collection of baseline data that is needed for comparative purposes.
Furthermore, there is no generic evaluation method for VAW programs. Some experts maintain that programs
addressing specific types of violence should have their own context, and therefore be evaluated using different criteria.
124 Presentation by Mary Ellsberg, PATH, “Overview of Evaluation and GBV,” Promising Practices in Monitoring and
Evaluation of Gender-Based Violence Event, National Press Club, Washington DC, November 8, 2007.

Existing VAW research offers little in the way of comparative data.125 Many researchers use
different sampling techniques, methodologies, and criteria for defining VAW and conducting
surveys—which may lead to inconsistent and varied findings. The lack of comparable data may
present a challenge to policymakers attempting to identify the scope of the problem and
implement programs to address the issue. Some researchers and policymakers have recognized
this and are actively working to streamline survey processes and reporting procedures. Some have
also called for the creation of comprehensive international indicators for violence against 126

In the past three decades, the level and quality of research addressing VAW have increased as
awareness of the problem has grown. This section highlights some current and emerging areas in
VAW research, prevention, and treatment.
Research on VAW has evolved to include not only treatment and prevalence but also root causes.
As a result, many experts and policymakers have increasingly focused on the role of men and
boys in preventing violence against women. Some NGOs and governments have developed
school curricula, services, and public awareness campaigns to educate boys and men on the
negative consequences of violence against women. These efforts range from rehabilitating
perpetrators through counseling to establishing curricula for young boys that challenge traditional 127
notions of masculinity.
During the last decade, researchers and policymakers have increasingly explored the relationship 128
between HIV/AIDS and violence against women. Studies have found that women in
developing countries are disproportionately affected by HIV, with the United Nations estimating 129
that two-thirds of new infections among people from 15 to 24 years old are among women.

125 Andrew Morrison, Mary Ellsberg, Sarah Bott, “Addressing Gender-Based Violence: A Critical Review of
Interventions,” The World Bank Research Observer, Oxford University Press, May 7, 2007 p. 25.
126 See “Violence against Women: A Statistical Overview, Challenges and Gaps in Data Collection and Methodology
and Approaches for Overcoming Them,” a publication of the Economic Commission for Europe, WHO, and the U.N.
Division for the Advancement of Women, April 2005, available at
127 For more information on the role of men and boys in preventing and eliminating VAW, see “Men’s Role in Gender-
Based Violence Fact Sheet, distributed by the Pan American Health Organization. Also see (1) an article by Michael
Flood, “Involving Men in Gender Policy and Practice, Critical Half, Winter 2007, vol. 5, no. 1, and (2) “The Role of
Men and Boys in Achieving Gender Equality,” expert group meeting, list of documents, October 21-24, 2003, available
128 The Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, Report on Gender-Based Violence and HIV/AIDS, November
2006, available at
129 In FY2005, for example, 60% of the people receiving antiretroviral treatment through the U.S. PEPFAR initiative
were women. For further information on the relationship between VAW and HIV/AIDS, see UNAIDS Backgrounder at

Global statistics indicate that women who are victims of violence are more likely to contract HIV
than those who are not, leading some experts to conclude that there may be a correlation between 130
rates of HIV in women and violence. Reportedly, women who experience or fear violence
appear to be less likely to request or insist on using condoms during sexual encounters, increasing
their risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Women who are raped are also more
susceptible to contracting HIV due to vaginal and anal tearing.
Some experts have linked VAW to discrimination. Many in the international community view
violence as a form of discrimination against women and maintain that discrimination also causes 131
violence. To successfully combat VAW, they contend, equal attention should be paid to the
causes and impacts of female discrimination. Women who are discriminated against because of
their sex may not receive a formal education or have access to healthcare. In many societies,
women may not own property or have inheritance rights. Some analysts argue that these factors
may contribute to an unequal power relationship between men and women—which in turn may
lead to a cycle of violence.
Some developed countries have undertaken studies to determine the economic costs of violence
against women. Though the results vary because of differing methodologies, the studies generally 132
found that the cost to society may be significant. Canadian researchers, for example, estimated 133
that the cost of damage incurred by VAW in Canada is over $4 billion Canadian dollars. Most
studies analyze both long-term and short-term cost variables such as treatment and services for
women victims of violence (including healthcare and legal costs), and reduced employment and
productivity levels because of violence against female employees. Some studies also address the
economic impact of pain and suffering inflicted on women by violence, though estimating the 134
costs of such intangibles can present a challenge to researchers. Moreover, many experts
generally agree that because of VAW’s complex and wide-ranging impact on society, it is likely
that existing research underestimates the economic consequences of violence.

130 Addressing Violence Against Women and Achieving the Millennium Development Goals, WHO, 2005, p. 20.
131 See U.N. document, A/61/122/Add.1, July 6, 2007, p. 14.
132 For further information on the possible socio-economic costs of VAW, seePreventing and Responding to Gender-
Based Violence in Middle and Low-Income Countries: A Global Review and Analysis,” by Sarah Bott, Andrew
Morrison, and Mary Ellsburg, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 2318, June 2005, p. 12.
133 Lorraine Greaves et al., “Selected Estimates of the Costs of Violence Against Women,” Center for Research on
Violence Against Women and Children, London, Ontario, 1995, available at
pub_greaves1995.pdf. A March 2003 HHS study estimated that the cost of intimate partner violence in the United
States exceeds $5.8 billion per year, including $4.1 billion for direct medical and mental health services; $.9 billion in
lost work productivity; and $.9 billion lost in lifetime earnings by victims of intimate partner violence homicide. The
U.S. study was completed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and funded by Congress. The study is
available at
134 For a list of studies on the economic and social costs of VAW, see the Annex (pp. 133-138) of U.N. document,
A/61/122/Add.1, July 6, 2007.

Selected Websites (U.S. Government, United Nations, NGOs)
U.S. State Department—Recognizing Violence Against Women
http://www.sta wi/92987.htm
USAID Interagency Gender Working Group, Gender-Based Violence Priority Area priorityareas/ m
World Health Organization, Gender-Based Violence /gender/vi olence/e n/
U.N. Division for the Advancement of Women, Violence Against Women me nwatch/daw/vaw/
U.N. Population Fund, Ending Violence Against Women
http://www.unfpa .org/ge nder/vi olence .htm
UNICEF, Gender-Based Violence rg/index_33202.html
Violence Against Women, Facts and Figures (UNIFEM) campaigns/vaw/facts_f igures .php.
End Violence Against Women (Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School forPublic Health,
Information and Knowledge for Optimal Health (INFO), andUSAID)
Human Rights Watch, Women’s Rights n /
Amnesty International, Stop Violence Against Women en/campaigns/stop-vi olence-a gainst-wo men
Gender-Based Violence Prevention Network (Africa)

Selected Journal Articles and Studies
Addressing Gender-Based Violence in the Latin American and Caribbean Region: A Critical
Review of Interventions, World Bank Poverty Sector Unit Policy Research Working Paper # 3438,
October 2004.
“Engaging Men in ‘Women’s Issues:’ Inclusive Approaches to Gender and Development,”
Critical Half , Winter 2007, vol. 5, no. 1.
Guedes, Alessandra, Addressing Gender-Based Violence From the Reproductive Health/HIV
Sector—A Literature Review and Analysis, USAID Interagency Gender Working Group, May

2004, available at

Heise, Lori, Ellsberg, Mary, and Gottemoeller, Megan, “Ending Violence Against
Women,”Population Reports, series L, no. 11, Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health,
Population Information Program, December 1999, available at
l11/vi olence.pdf.
“Gender-Based Violence and Reproductive Health,” International Family Planning Perspectives,
December 2004, vol. 30, no. 4.
Programming to Address Violence Against Women: 10 Case Studies, UNFPA, 2007, available at
http://www.unfpa .org/upload/lib_pub_file/678_filename_va w.pdf.
Responding to Gender-Based Violence: A Focus on Policy Change, A Companion Guide, USAID,
May 2006, available at
Strategic Framework for the Prevention of and Response to Gender-Based Violence in Eastern,
Southern and Central Africa, USAID and UNICEF publication, 2006, available at ca /r esources_3553.html.
The Safe Schools Program: A Qualitative Study to Examine School-Related Gender-Based
Violence in Malawi, USAID publication, Center for Educational Research and Training and
DevTech Systems Inc., available at
SafeSchoolsMalawi_PLAReport_J anuary82008.pdf.
Understanding the Issue: An Annotated Bibliography on GBV, USAID (prepared by the POLICY
Project, May 2006, available at
Annotat edBi bliogr aphy.pdf.
Violence against Women and HIV/AIDS: Setting the Research Agenda, World Health
Organization, Geneva, 2001, available at

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