United Nations Security Council members vote to approve a resolution condemning the use of sexual violence against women in conflict during a Security Council meeting on women, peace, security, and sexual violence in conflict at UN Headquarters in New York, June 2013. 
Lucas Jackson / REUTERS

On October 6, U.S. President Donald Trump signed into law a bill for which feminists had long campaigned: the Women, Peace, and Security Act of 2017. This law recognizes how critical women are to achieving global security and aims to increase their participation in U.S. conflict mediation and negotiation efforts around the world. Yet the act, although laudable in and of itself, fails to acknowledge the most widespread threat to women and girls: domestic violence, especially violence perpetrated by intimate partners. By focusing explicitly on conflict-related sexual violence—defined as crimes committed by armed organizations—both the Women, Peace, and Security Act and the broader agenda it advances prioritize violence perpetrated by combatants, as opposed to intimate partners. Such a focus sends the wrong message—that violence occurring over the course of a war is somehow more egregious than the violence that over one-third of women experience inside their homes.  

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  • MICHELLE SIEFF consults on violence against women, conflict, and development for the World Bank, USAID, and other organizations. 
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