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September 24, 2020

Reps. Pressley, Tlaib, Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, and Speier Introduce Resolution Calling for Government Action to Mitigate Violence Against Women in Politics

WASHINGTON—Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) joined Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), and Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), and Jackie Speier (CA-14), introduced a House resolution recognizing violence against women in politics is a global phenomenon and that more research should be conducted to examine its extent and effects in the United States. The resolution, endorsed by League of Women Voters of the United States, also calls on the U.S. government to adopt policies that promote women’s political participation and help mitigate violence against women in politics in the United States and abroad.

“…women have been on the frontlines of social justice movements around the world and throughout our Nation’s history…[and]…violence against women in politics is a specific, gendered phenomenon stemming from a resistance to women’s increased political participation and intending to undermine women as political actors,” portions of the resolution read.

The introduction will come a week after a Republican candidate for the U.S. House posted a threatening photo holding a gun alongside images of Tlaib, Ocasio-Cortez, and Omar. According to the 2018 Violence Against Women in Politics Report by UN Women and UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, women of color appear to be disproportionately affected by it and risks of political engagement are likely higher for women of marginalized communities. A recent study of U.S. mayors, which found that female mayors are more likely than men to experience most types of violence and abuse, also indicates such incidents are not out of the ordinary for women in U.S. politics generally. Congresswoman Tlaib herself spoke on the House floor on the issue this past March—and it has only continued to gain international prominence since.

“As women in politics—and women of color—we are all too familiar with the vitriol and threats of violence that come with claiming our rightful place in the world,” said Congresswoman Pressley. “But these attempts to intimidate and debase us because of our gender only strengthen our resolve in pursuit of justice. Our foremothers—the trailblazing women elected to Congress before us—equipped us to take on a world that was built on contradictions and injustice, and to declare that we have every right to do our jobs and represent our communities without fearing for our safety. This resolution affirms that right for us, and for every little girl who aspires to one day take her rightful place alongside us in the halls of power.”

“Receiving constant death threats – including against my family – hasn’t stopped me from speaking truth to power, but such hate and risk should not be the inherent cost of any woman participating in politics, regardless of her race, creed, sexual or gender identity, or any other defining quality of who she is,” said Congresswoman Tlaib.  “We so often hear the future is female—and I introduce this resolution as a means of securing it. Our future is so much brighter if we can build a world in which women and nonbinary individuals are free to fight for their communities and serve in government without fear of violence and abuse.”

“Women have been subjected to vitriol and hateful attacks in order to silence them from participating in politics,” said Congresswoman Omar. “These sexist attacks are not only unacceptable, but have long-term effects of deterring women from entering public service. This phenomenon is a global issue and must be addressed to increase equal representation at all levels of government. I’m proud to join Congresswoman Tlaib in this effort to end violence against women in politics.” 

“Violence against women in politics is a form of misogyny as old as time. When I introduced legislation in California to crack down on those who weren’t paying child support, I received death threats that required me to be moved into protective custody as a widowed mother with my young son and toddler daughter and wear a bulletproof vest. In Congress, when I took on the Marines United Facebook group which circulated private, intimate images of women servicemembers, I found a deluge of doctored images of me beaten and bruised with a black eye,” said Congresswoman Jackie Speier, Co-Chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus. “Each of my colleagues has experienced this form of weaponized sexism, whether it be death or rape threats, shootings, sexual harassment, verbal assaults, or worse. These attacks are meant to silence and intimidate us, and to put us in our place. Well, we’re right where we belong and we’re not going anywhere. It’s on each of us to call out this violence as we see it, to urge social media platforms to immediately take down harmful content, and to demand more and better for ourselves and our colleagues.”

Organizations who have led national and global efforts to address violence against women in politics, including The National Democratic Institute (NDI) and League of Women Voters of the United States (LWVUS), welcomed the resolution’s introduction.

 “The National Democratic Institute is grateful for this resolution recognizing violence against women in politics as a global phenomenon, and for the support of women in Congress since the inception of NDI’s #NotTheCost campaign to address this issue. Violence is not the cost of being a politically active woman, and is a direct barrier to women’s political participation and inclusive, resilient, and responsive democracy,” said a statement from NDI.

“Preventing violence against women in elected office is a crucial first step to open more pathways for women to succeed in politics,” said LWVUS Senior Manager of Policy and Legislative Affairs Jessica Jones Capparell. “We need to do more than just talk about these inhumane occurrences and this resolution is the first step in eliminating this injustice and improving the political system for all of us.”

The full text of the resolution can be read here.