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A Father's Day wish for all our daughters

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opinion Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Pioneer
(218) 333-9819 customer support
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

As we celebrate dads at barbecues and picnics around the country this weekend, I'd like to take a moment to reflect on what is happening with daughters, sisters and mothers around the world.

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Today in Haiti or at the site of another natural disaster, a woman or girl may be forced to trade sex for food.

Today in Afghanistan, a girl may be burned with acid because she dares go out unescorted, because she's learned to read or because she wants an education.

Today in Jordan, a young woman may be killed because her rape brought "dishonor" to her family.

Today in Malaysia, a teen may be caned because her clothing offends the "morality police."

Today in Guatemala, a domestic violence victim and her child may die because there are no services or supports available to help.

Atrocities like these are committed against women and girls around the world each and every day. We read about them and often don't know what to do.

But there is something we can do to make the world safer for all our daughters. We can support the International Violence Against Women Act.

Earlier this year, a bi-partisan group of congressional champions including Sens. John Kerry, Olympia Snowe, Barbara Boxer and Susan Collins, and Reps. Bill Delahunt, Ted Poe and Janice Schakowsky introduced this groundbreaking legislation. It would make stopping violence against women and girls a priority in American diplomacy and foreign aid for the first time ever.

I-VAWA would address international sex trafficking and rape during war; reform laws about violence against women and enhance efforts to bring perpetrators to justice; help survivors escape and recover from violence; prevent deaths from HIV/AIDS and childbirth; expand economic opportunities for abused women; and educate boys and men to be leaders and allies of ending violence against women and girls.

Voters strongly support this legislation. A poll commissioned last fall by the Family Violence Prevention Fund and Women Thrive Worldwide found that 61 percent of voters said addressing global violence should be one of our government's top priorities. Majorities believe working to end violence against women and girls will lead to greater economic and political stability worldwide. And most importantly, majorities want Congress to pass this bill.

Americans want their government to help end violence against women and girls -- in all its forms -- because they see it as a gross violation of basic human rights. Our champions in Congress have heard that message. The rest of Congress should hear it too.

As fathers, we try to protect our children and make the world safer for them. So this Father's Day, while I open gifts and enjoy time with my family, I'm going to take a few minutes to send a message asking my senators and representatives to help to pass the International Violence Against Women Act.

I want more fathers around the globe to be able to enjoy days like this with their daughters, and I want my kids to someday live in a world without violence. I hope others contact their member of Congress too.

Nathan Brostrom is a member of the board of directors of the Family Violence Prevention Fund and a father of four daughters and two sons.

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Pioneer staff reports
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