By signing this petition and telling Congress to help end violence against women and children in Central America, you will save lives, transform communities and help bring stability to an extremely volatile region of the world.
CHILDREN’S LIVES ARE ON THE LINE
Jakelin is one of many Guatemalan girls who experienced sexual abuse as a child. One night, her mother, Catarina,* woke up and found her spouse about to rape Jakelin in her bedroom.
Horrified, she took Jakelin and her brothers and fled their home and reported the crime to authorities. With IJM’s help, Jakelin’s father was prosecuted and put in jail for his crime. But many cases remain open, and an average of two women are murdered each day in Guatemala.
Everyone can agree that vulnerable women and children deserve protection and justice. Congress is considering bi-partisan legislation that will help strengthen public justice systems so they protect girls like Jakelin from sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse.
Take 30 seconds to tell your elected officials to support this life-saving legislation.
Sign the petition today and say “I AM HERE” with victims and survivors of sexual violence in Central America.
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It’s simple. Complete the form and tell your representatives in Congress to fund live-saving programs that will help end violence against women and children in Central America.
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WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING
"Many Central American migrants are fleeing the violence of kidnapping, gangs, and rape that local authorities have been powerless to stop. But targeted investment in police, courts, prosecutors, and widespread engagement of civil society can make a measurable difference in the lives of the poorest. Central America needs more of that United States investment rather than less." - IJM CEO Gary Haugen
FAITH SIGN-ON LETTER
Pastors and faith leaders from across the country are standing together to urge Congress to take action to protect vulnerable women and children from violence in Central America. If you are a pastor or faith leader, add your name to this letter today!
"There are innovative, effective programs—many funded by the US government—that are addressing this violence and instability. The win-win of such programs is that they not only serve vulnerable people often forced to run for their lives, but they also make staying home a real possibility for many people who, violence aside, have no desire to migrate." - IJM VP of Spiritual Formation Jim Martin
The Act designates millions of dollars in U.S. foreign assistance to build the capacity of Central American governments to protect women and children from sexual assault, domestic violence, and other crimes and to deter violence by bringing perpetrators to justice. The Act instructs the Secretary of State to enter into individual agreements with the governments of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador to achieve specific, measurable protection outcomes. These “compacts” will focus the attention of both the local authorities and the U.S. government and increase both political will and capacity to address violence against those most vulnerable.
The House bill, H.R.2836, authorizes $20 million/year for 3 years. The Senate bill, S.1781, authorizes $10 million per year. The differences will be negotiated between the two sides at the end of the legislative process.
The legislation addresses a key driver of migration from Central America to the U.S.: violence. It does not address apprehension and detention of migrants at the border or other aspects of U.S. immigration policy. Congress is addressing the U.S. side of the border in other legislation, such as the Emergency Border Supplemental, enacted on July, 2019.
If the Central American Women and Children Protection Act becomes law, it won’t take effect until 2020. The U.S. will restore aid to Central America at some point. When it does, the need to address violence against women and children is much more likely to be a priority because of this legislation.
Once the legislation is enacted, the State Department will develop collaborative strategies with one or more of the Central American governments. Once those agreements (“compacts”) are adopted, the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development will issue requests for proposals. IJM will have the opportunity to apply and will be judged on its merits, as will other NGO’s and government contractors.
All three Central American governments have issues with corruption and misuse of funds. Accordingly, the legislation prohibits direct aid to governments; the assistance will be disbursed through NGO’s like IJM, which work directly with governments to increase capacity to prosecute perpetrators of abuse and protect those vulnerable to it.
Vulnerable people in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador are experiencing extraordinarily high rates of violence, including sexual violence against women and children. This kind of violence is a factor in pushing children and adults fleeing their homelands for safer places. Doctors Without Borders surveyed Central American refugees in Mexico and found more than 40 percent had a relative killed in the past two years, 31 percent knew someone who was kidnapped, and 17 percent knew someone who disappeared. We must act now.
With a limited number of legislative days between now and the 2020 election, we must ask Congress to pass this bill now to protect vulnerable women and children. As we get closer to November 2020, lawmakers will increasingly direct their attention to the campaign trail – we want to make sure they hear from us before then.
First, thank you for signing the petition! You can share this petition on social media and encourage your friends to take action. Another way to engage your community is by signing up to take the 100 Postcard Challenge. By signing up, you will receive postcards about this piece of legislation from HQ and invite your community to sign them. To learn more, visit our website here.