House panel to hear violence against women

Oct. 21, 2009 at 8:10 AM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 21 (UPI) -- A rights organization said it will be listening closely to a U.S. State Department official's congressional testimony on violence against women.

Ambassador-at-large Melanne Verveer, to testify Wednesday before House Foreign Relations Committee's Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights and Oversight, should discuss how the department will address sexual- and gender-based violence in Sudan, Human Rights Watch said in a news release.

The State Department Monday issued a new policy on Sudan, stating it would work to reduce sexual- and gender-based violence in the African country.

During testimony before a similar panel in the Senate, Verveer spoke of sexual violence in conflict, noting the U.S. government's increased interest and action on this issue in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Afghanistan. While citing instances of abuse against Sudanese women and girls, however, the global women's issues ambassador did not provide specifics about addressing them.

"The lack of specifics in the Sudan policy about how the U.S. intends to address this critical issue makes it clear that this is an important subject to be raised at the hearing and that legislative action may be needed to help address the issue there," said Marianne Mollmann, HRW women's rights advocacy director.

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