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U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Calls for Action to Prevent International Violence and Discrimination Against Women

Highlights discriminatory national laws in Iran and the recent spate of heinous acid attacks against Iranian women

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to call for action to help prevent international violence and discrimination against women and girls. Sent during the “16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence,” the letter expresses deep concerns for the continued violation of the fundamental human rights of women and girls around the world and urges Secretary Kerry to prioritize a country's treatment of women and girls in our diplomatic relationships. Today, December 10, 2014 is Human Rights Day.

“This year's 16 Days of Activism provides an excellent opportunity to remember that a country's success is directly related to how it treats women and girls. That is why it is critical that American foreign policy continues to focus on eliminating gender-based violence and discrimination, including through the effective implementation of existing relevant initiatives. I look forward to working with you toward this goal,” Senator Baldwin wrote to Secretary Kerry.

According to the United Nations (UN), up to seventy percent of women experience violence in their lifetime, harming families, communities, and entire countries by severely limiting the ability of women to fully participate in public life.

In the letter, Senator Baldwin highlighted discriminatory national laws in Iran and the recent spate of heinous acid attacks against Iranian women, as well as forced and early marriage of girls in multiple African countries.

In Iran, where adultery is still punishable by death, and women cannot be in public without hijab, recent events like the execution of Reyhaneh Jabbari and serial acid attacks against women have reinforced the critical linkage between discriminatory national laws and the safety of women and girls. The recent spate of heinous acid attacks against Iranian women followed a parliamentary bill that encouraged private citizens to enforce Iranian "morality" laws. These "morality" laws represent a wide range of legal restrictions designed to prevent women from fully engaging in public life, and they have long served as state-sanctioned oppression against women. According to the UN, 66 percent of Iranian women have reportedly experienced domestic violence.

Forced and early marriage of girls is another critical human rights issue that could be positively impacted by improving national laws. This is especially true in Africa, where 15 of the 20 countries with the highest rate of child marriage are located.

Senator Baldwin also applauded the Obama Administration's efforts to combat gender-based violence and called for further progress on the matter.

An online version of the letter can be found here.