Shaheen & Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Introduce Legislation Expanding U.S. Tools against Perpetrators of Sexual Violence in Global Conflicts

June 11, 2019

**Legislation adds sexual violence to U.S. human rights reporting and existing sanctions laws.**

(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees, introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation with Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) to elevate the prevention of, and response to, conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence as a priority in U.S. foreign policy. Representative Chellie Pingree (ME-01) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

Despite progress in raising the profile of the sexual and gender-based violence in conflicts, rape and sexual assault continue to be a tool of war in a number of countries, including Syria, Burma, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Extremist organizations continue to use rape and sexual slavery to terrorize communities, and sexual violence has been used as a form of ethnic and religious persecution or genocide.

“Sexual and gender-based violence has long been the weapon of choice for despots willing to use any means necessary to silence opponents and innocent civilians during war. Holding these criminals accountable for their barbaric crimes is a critical component to ending conflict worldwide, and that is exactly what this legislation seeks to do,” said Senator Shaheen. “As a global leader, the United States must be an example to other nations by making it clear that there will be repercussions for those who engage in mass rape and other forms of sexual violence. This legislation makes the fight against such atrocities a top foreign policy priority, and I encourage Senate leadership to bring it up for a vote.”

Specifically, the Accountability for Sexual and Gender-based Violence as a Tool in Conflict Act:

  • Requires the State Department to expand reported sexual and gender-based violence in conflict in its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices;
  • Amends the Global Magnitsky Act to add sexual and gender-based violence as a human rights violation that would trigger sanctions under the Act; and
  • Amends the Section 7031(c) corruption/human rights authority to add sexual and gender-based violence as a trigger for travel restrictions.

A copy of the legislation can be found here.