Wagner, Torres Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Protect Women and Children from Violence in the Northern Triangle
Washington, D.C. — Today, U.S. Representatives Ann Wagner (R-MO) and Norma J. Torres (D-CA), the Co-Chairs of the Congressional Central America Caucus, introduced the bipartisan Central American Women and Children Protection Act of 2019 to protect women and children in the Northern Triangle from domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse and neglect, and to hold perpetrators accountable. The bill would authorize the U.S. State Department to enter into bilateral agreements, known as Women and Children Protection Compacts, with the Governments of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
“I recently visited Guatemala and met women and young girls who told me their deeply personal stories of sexual and domestic violence. These women are driven and independent and they yearn for opportunities to build a better life at home so they can safely grow a family and better their communities,” said Wagner. “This legislation will help reduce the painfully high rates of domestic violence and sexual assault that affect women and girls throughout the Northern Triangle and hold accountable the perpetrators who have torn families apart.”
“Violence is one of the main reasons women and children from Central America are forced to flee their homes in search of safe harbor at our southern border,” said Torres. “This bill directly addresses the conditions that contribute to migration from the Northern Triangle, while ensuring that the region’s governments pursue policies that are aligned with U.S. development goals.”
Specifically, the Central American Women and Children Protection Act would
- Strengthen the Compact Countries’ criminal justice systems and civil protection courts;
- Secure, create, and sustain safe communities, building on current place-based approaches to prevent and deter violence against women and children; and
- Ensure schools are safe and promote the prevention and early detection of gender-based and domestic abuse within communities in the Compact Countries.
The bill would allow the Secretary of State to suspend or terminate assistance authorized by this Act to any of the three countries if it is determined that the country’s government is engaged in activities that are contrary to the national security interests of the United States, has engaged in a pattern of actions inconsistent with the criteria used to determine the eligibility of the country, or if the country has failed to make sufficient progress to meet the goals of the Compact.