Text: H.R.4092 — 116th Congress (2019-2020)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in House (07/30/2019)

 
[Congressional Bills 116th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
[H.R. 4092 Introduced in House (IH)]

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116th CONGRESS
  1st Session
                                H. R. 4092

 To improve United States consideration of, and strategic support for, 
programs to prevent and respond to gender-based violence from the onset 
  of humanitarian emergencies and build the capacity of humanitarian 
assistance to address the immediate and long-term challenges resulting 
              from such violence, and for other purposes.


_______________________________________________________________________


                    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                             July 30, 2019

 Ms. Meng (for herself, Mr. Stewart, Ms. Frankel, Mr. Diaz-Balart, and 
Ms. Houlahan) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the 
                      Committee on Foreign Affairs

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL


 
 To improve United States consideration of, and strategic support for, 
programs to prevent and respond to gender-based violence from the onset 
  of humanitarian emergencies and build the capacity of humanitarian 
assistance to address the immediate and long-term challenges resulting 
              from such violence, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Safe from the Start Act of 2019''.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    Congress finds the following:
            (1) Displaced, refugee, and stateless women and girls in 
        humanitarian emergencies, conflict settings, and natural 
        disasters face extreme violence and threats, including--
                    (A) rape and sexual assault;
                    (B) domestic or intimate partner violence;
                    (C) child, early, and forced marriage;
                    (D) trafficking for the purposes of sexual 
                exploitation and forced labor;
                    (E) harmful traditional practices such as female 
                genital mutilation or cutting; and
                    (F) harassment, exploitation, and abuse by 
                humanitarian personnel.
            (2) Gender-based violence is known to increase during 
        humanitarian emergencies. Violent acts such as intimate partner 
        violence and child marriage that take place during times of 
        stability are often exacerbated during times of crisis.
            (3) Nearly one in five women report experiencing sexual 
        violence during a humanitarian emergency. For example, 
        according to the United Nations Organization Stabilization 
        Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, there was an 
        increase of 56 percent in reported cases of conflict-related 
        sexual violence between 2016 and 2017.
            (4) Intimate partner violence is pervasive and becomes 
        increasingly common during times of conflict and crisis. 
        Residence in a conflict-affected district is associated with a 
        50-percent increase in risk of intimate partner violence, and 
        women who have experienced 4-5 cumulative years of conflict are 
        almost 90 percent more likely to experience such violence than 
        women who are not living in conflict settings.
            (5) Child, early, and forced marriages increase during 
        humanitarian crises as tools of last resort to cope with 
        economic hardship and to protect girls from increased violence. 
        Conflict can exacerbate cultural norms of child, early, and 
        forced marriage or create harmful cultural behaviors where they 
        had not previously existed.
            (6) Women and girls are especially vulnerable to 
        trafficking during humanitarian crises, particularly by non-
        State armed groups who abduct and traffic women and girls for 
        sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, and child, early, and 
        forced marriage, among other forms of exploitation.
            (7) Crises create markets for exploitative services that 
        are too frequently abused by aid workers and peacekeepers, who 
        seek sexual services from displaced or vulnerable people. In 
        2018, the United Nations received a total of 148 sexual 
        exploitation and abuse allegations directly involving United 
        Nations aid workers, and 111 involving staff from partner 
        organizations implementing United Nations programs.
            (8) According to United Nations High Commissioner for 
        Refugees, marginalized populations are particularly at risk of 
        gender-based violence in humanitarian crises, including 
        adolescent girls, older persons, persons with disabilities, 
        sexual and gender minorities, and female heads of households.
            (9) Gender-based violence is under-reported, both in times 
        of stability and during crises. While data may not be 
        immediately available in each crisis or conflict, evidence 
        shows that gender-based violence is consistently a major and 
        pressing concern for women and girls facing humanitarian 
        emergency contexts and should be assumed to be a protection 
        concern in all humanitarian planning and risk assessment.
            (10) Men and boys play a critical role in preventing 
        gender-based violence, and engaging them alongside women and 
        girls in the transformation of gender roles that lead to 
        increased rates of gender-based violence at the onset of 
        emergencies leads to lasting results.
            (11) Survivors of gender-based violence and their families 
        in humanitarian emergencies require immediate, life-saving 
        assistance, including post-rape care or access to other 
        comprehensive medical and psychosocial services, to address the 
        physical, psychological, and social impacts of gender-based 
        violence. They also require long-term support such as 
        opportunities to earn livelihoods, build skills or receive an 
        education, and access to justice and community-level 
        reintegration. Early medical interventions after incidents of 
        rape can help to prevent infections, HIV, and pregnancy.
            (12) Empowering women to assume leadership roles in 
        delivering humanitarian response and meaningfully engaging 
        local organizations, including women's rights, humanitarian, 
        advocacy, and service-provider organizations, through training 
        and directed resources to operate in emergency settings and 
        provide life-saving assistance is critical to supporting 
        survivors or those at risk of gender-based violence.
            (13) The international community has prioritized addressing 
        the issue of gender-based violence in humanitarian contexts by 
        launching a Global Call to Action on Protection from Gender-
        Based Violence in Emergencies in 2013, which the United States 
        operationalized through establishing a Safe from the Start 
        initiative, implemented by the Department of State and the 
        United States Agency for International Development.
            (14) Safe from the Start aimed to prevent and respond to 
        gender-based violence at the onset of an emergency and to 
        provide resources to strengthen the core capacity of 
        humanitarian assistance implementers to address gender-based 
        violence at the earliest phases of an emergency, including 
        through developing training, guidelines, toolkits, and other 
        resources to guide operations.
            (15) The Women's Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment 
        Act (Public Law 115-428) requires the United States ``to strive 
        to eliminate gender-based violence and mitigate its harmful 
        effects on individuals and communities'' in its development 
        cooperation policy. Recognizing the need to prevent and respond 
        to gender-based violence globally, Congress has appropriated 
        $150,000,000 annually from fiscal Years 2013-2019 for this 
        purpose.
            (16) The United States has further committed to prevention 
        and response to gender-based violence globally through the 
        interagency United States Strategy to Prevent and Respond to 
        Gender-Based Violence Globally, the National Action Plan on 
        Women, Peace, and Security, the U.S. Global Strategy to Empower 
        Adolescent Girls, U.S. Strategy to Support Women and Girls at 
        Risk from Extremism and Conflict, and the U.S. Government 
        Strategy on Advancing Protection and Care for Children in 
        Adversity.

SEC. 3. STATEMENT OF POLICY.

    It is the policy of the United States--
            (1) to take effective action to prevent, mitigate, and 
        respond to gender-based violence in humanitarian emergencies 
        around the world to promote respect for basic human rights and 
        gender equality, economic growth, improved public health, and 
        peace and stability;
            (2) to systematically integrate and coordinate efforts to 
        prevent and respond to gender-based violence in United States 
        foreign policy and foreign assistance programs, including 
        conflict prevention, humanitarian relief and recovery, and 
        peace-building efforts;
            (3) to promote accountability and access to justice for 
        acts of gender-based violence;
            (4) to build local capacity in countries responding to 
        humanitarian crises, including the capacity of governments at 
        all levels and nongovernmental organizations, especially women-
        led organizations, to prevent, mitigate, and respond to gender-
        based violence;
            (5) to consult, cooperate, coordinate, and collaborate with 
        a wide variety of nongovernmental partners and international 
        organizations, including women-led organizations, when 
        designing and implementing humanitarian response programs;
            (6) to support activities that prevent and mitigate the 
        impacts of gender-based violence in humanitarian settings and 
        that empower survivors or those at risk of gender-based 
        violence, including through economic opportunities, access to 
        education and skills building, and promotion of women's 
        leadership and participation in humanitarian response;
            (7) to ensure that international organizations and 
        nongovernmental organizations receiving funding from the United 
        States have the capacity and internal protocols to identify 
        gender-based violence, including sexual exploitation and abuse 
        committed by humanitarian personnel, integrate gender-based 
        violence prevention and response initiatives into policies and 
        programs, and report regularly on efforts to prevent and 
        respond to gender-based violence;
            (8) to employ a multisectoral approach to preventing and 
        responding to gender-based violence globally, including through 
        activities in the economic, education, health, protection, 
        nutrition, and legal sectors;
            (9) to ensure protection against sexual exploitation and 
        abuse by and against humanitarian actors; and
            (10) to include the active leadership and participation of 
        women and girls in humanitarian program design, implementation, 
        and evaluation.

SEC. 4. SAFE FROM THE START AUTHORITY.

    (a) Safe From the Start Programming.--The Secretary of State, in 
consultation with the Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Population, 
Refugees, and Migration and in coordination with the Administrator of 
the United States Agency for International Development (in consultation 
with the Director of the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance), shall 
direct and oversee all United States foreign assistance that addresses 
humanitarian crises in a manner that implements a ``Safe from the 
Start'' programming focus on the following objectives:
            (1) Preventing and reducing the incidence of gender-based 
        violence.
            (2) Ensuring quality protection for survivors of such 
        crises beginning with the onset of the emergency through timely 
        and effective action.
            (3) Promoting standards and activities to prevent, 
        mitigate, and respond to gender-based violence.
            (4) Advance the empowerment of survivors and individuals at 
        risk of gender-based violence.
    (b) Standards and Guidelines.--The Secretary shall develop 
guidelines, toolkits, reporting mechanisms, and other institutional 
response and accountability measures through the Safe from the Start 
programming described in subsection (a) in order to incorporate 
effective gender-based violence prevention and response activities 
across all humanitarian assistance programs and projects, including 
through--
            (1) the promotion of minimum standards, indicators, and 
        metrics to assess the adequacy of interventions relating to 
        gender-based violence, taking into consideration the Guidelines 
        for Integrating Gender-Based Violence Interventions in 
        Humanitarian Action published by the United Nations Inter-
        Agency Standing Council in 2015, the assessment released by the 
        Real-Time Accountability Partnership on Gender-Based Violence 
        in Emergencies in 2016, and the Minimum Standards for Child 
        Protection in Humanitarian Action published by the non-profit 
        organization Sphere in 2012;
            (2) the establishment and implementation, in coordination 
        with international organizations and nongovernmental 
        organizations, of standards, protocols, and accountability 
        mechanisms for preventing and addressing sexual or other 
        gender-based exploitation or abuse perpetrated by personnel 
        delivering humanitarian assistance; and
            (3) the development of monitoring tools across all 
        humanitarian assistance programming to standardize monitoring 
        and accountability relating to gender-based violence prevention 
        and response.
    (c) Improvement of Protection Mechanisms.--The Secretary shall 
improve the delivery and quality of United States assistance to protect 
survivors of gender-based violence, through the Safe from the Start 
programming described in subsection (a), by improving activities in the 
following areas:
            (1) Access to and quality of comprehensive medical services 
        for survivors and at-risk populations in line with 
        international standards, including--
                    (A) post-rape and post-sexual assault medical care;
                    (B) psycho-social and mental health services; and
                    (C) hygiene and dignity kits.
            (2) Service delivery to hard-to-reach populations, 
        prioritizing services that reach--
                    (A) shelters for survivors of natural disasters;
                    (B) internally displaced person camps;
                    (C) active conflict zones; and
                    (D) refugees living in urban areas.
    (d) Authorization of Assistance to Local Actors.--The Secretary of 
State is authorized to provide assistance to organizations based 
outside the United States who are working to provide humanitarian 
relief in affected regions or countries, prioritizing such 
organizations that are led by refugees or displaced or stateless women 
and youth, through Safe from the Start programming in accordance with 
subsection (a) for the following purposes:
            (1) Building capacity to identify, prevent, and address 
        gender-based violence in humanitarian settings and to support 
        survivors and those at risk, including through training and 
        deploying female humanitarian aid workers.
            (2) Promoting women's leadership and participation in the 
        design, implementation, and evaluation of humanitarian 
        responses.
            (3) Developing safe spaces for meaningful dialogue, psycho-
        social interventions, and culturally-specific support.
            (4) Developing technical skills for advocacy, monitoring, 
        data collection, evaluation, and communications.
            (5) Performing on-the-ground gender analyses and otherwise 
        rapidly assessing and communicating the needs of women, girls, 
        and other populations that are vulnerable to gender-based 
        violence in crises.
    (e) Authorization of Assistance to International Nongovernmental 
Organizations.--The Secretary of State is authorized to provide support 
to enhance the capacity of international nongovernmental organizations 
to achieve the following:
            (1) Improving technical expertise and availability of 
        dedicated gender advisors to prevent and respond to gender-
        based violence in humanitarian settings through the Gender 
        Based Violence Area of Responsibility forum and across sectors 
        of humanitarian action, including through training and 
        sensitization of humanitarian aid workers on identification of 
        and care for survivors of gender-based violence.
            (2) Promoting supportive partnerships with local 
        humanitarian actors and nongovernmental organizations, 
        including for women's leadership and participation in 
        humanitarian response.
            (3) Increasing and improving empowerment activities, 
        including women's and girls' access to economic opportunities 
        and livelihoods, education and skills, and leadership roles.
            (4) Training for international development implementers 
        during the onset and transformation of a humanitarian crisis so 
        that such implementers are equipped to continue relief, 
        recovery, and reconstruction work that is sensitive to the 
        prevention and mitigation of gender-based violence after the 
        immediate humanitarian engagement has finished.

SEC. 5. SAFEGUARDING AGAINST SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OR ABUSE BY 
              HUMANITARIAN PERSONNEL.

    In accordance with the Safe from the Start programming focus 
described in subsection (a), the Secretary of State and the 
Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development 
shall prioritize support for activities ensuring that employees and 
contractors of the Agency delivering United States humanitarian 
assistance are equipped to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse in 
settings of humanitarian aid delivery, including by strengthening 
guidelines, training, reporting mechanisms and remedies, and other 
appropriate responses. Such activities shall include efforts to--
            (1) recognize the indicators of sexual exploitation or 
        abuse among refugee, displaced, or stateless populations by 
        humanitarian aid workers; and
            (2) identify and address risks within the humanitarian aid 
        context that create vulnerabilities for sexual and other 
        exploitation, perpetrated by or against humanitarian aid 
        workers.

SEC. 6. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.

    There is authorized to be appropriated such sums as may be 
necessary for each fiscal year to carry out this Act but not less than 
the amount expended in fiscal year 2018 to carry out the Safe from the 
Start program of the Department of State.

SEC. 7. REPORTS REQUIRED.

    (a) Progress Report.--
            (1) In general.--Not later than 1 year after the date of 
        the enactment of this Act, and annually thereafter, the 
        Secretary of State, in coordination with the Administrator of 
        the United States Agency for International Development, shall 
        submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report on 
        the progress made by the United States and by partners in the 
        implementation or delivery of humanitarian assistance, 
        including international organizations, to prevent, mitigate, 
        and address the incidence of gender-based violence in 
        humanitarian emergencies.
            (2) Elements.--The report required by paragraph (1) shall 
        include each of the following:
                    (A) An aggregation and examination of data and 
                research regarding the key drivers of gender-based 
                violence in humanitarian emergencies, the critical 
                needs of and services required by survivors or those at 
                risk, and successful program models to address, 
                prevent, and mitigate such violence.
                    (B) A detailed description of the programs, 
                diplomatic efforts, and other activities undertaken by 
                the United States to implement the Safe from the Start 
                programming focus described in section 4(a) of this 
                Act, including specific descriptions of--
                            (i) the steps taken to integrate 
                        prevention, mitigation, and response to gender-
                        based violence into humanitarian assistance, 
                        development of humanitarian standards, and 
                        responses to specific humanitarian crises;
                            (ii) the progress made, as of the date of 
                        the submission of the report, toward achieving 
                        specific objectives, metrics, and indicators 
                        for implementation of Safe from the Start 
                        programming, disaggregated, where appropriate, 
                        by gender, age, and type of violence;
                            (iii) a list of the projects funded or 
                        supported through the Safe from the Start 
                        programming focus, with specific details on 
                        levels of funding or assistance and impacts of 
                        such projects disaggregated, where appropriate, 
                        by gender, age, and type of violence;
                            (iv) an assessment of the extent to which 
                        consultations with nongovernmental 
                        organizations, including local actors, and 
                        intergovernmental actors have led to the 
                        development of programs, standards, and 
                        interventions to combat gender-based violence
                            (v) a list of the policies or programs 
                        implemented by international or multilateral 
                        organizations receiving funding from the United 
                        States Government to improve capacity and 
                        internal protocols to identify signs of gender-
                        based violence, including sexual exploitation 
                        and abuse, and integrate initiatives to prevent 
                        and respond to gender-based violence into all 
                        programs of the organization; and
                            (vi) a description of any diplomatic action 
                        taken bilaterally, multilaterally, or with 
                        international organizations to encourage the 
                        governments of other countries and 
                        international organizations to adopt policies 
                        to prevent and respond to gender-based violence 
                        in emergency situations, including any 
                        diplomatic efforts to strengthen the Global 
                        Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based 
                        Violence in Emergencies by increasing the 
                        number of governments participating in and 
                        contributing to its gender-based violence 
                        prevention and response activities.
            (3) Consultation required.--In developing the report 
        required by paragraph (1), the Secretary of State shall consult 
        with the Assistant Secretary for Population, Refugees, and 
        Migration of the Department of State and the Associate 
        Administrator for Humanitarian Assistance of the Agency for 
        International Development.
            (4) Form.--The report required by paragraph (1) shall be 
        submitted in unclassified form but may include a classified 
        annex. The unclassified portion of such report shall 
        concurrently be published on a publicly available website of 
        the Department of State.
    (b) Budget Report.--Not later than 120 days after the submission of 
each budget submitted to Congress by the President under section 
1105(a) of title 31, United States Code, after the date of the 
enactment of this Act, the Director of the Office of Management and 
Budget shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a 
budget crosscut report that--
            (1) displays the budget proposed, including any planned 
        interagency or intra-agency transfer, for each of the principal 
        Federal agencies that will be carrying out activities through 
        the Safe from the Start programming focus described in section 
        4(a) of this Act in the fiscal year for which such budget is 
        submitted;
            (2) separately reports the amount of funding to be provided 
        pertaining to the Safe from the Start strategy under subsection 
        (a), to the extent such plans are available; and
            (3) to the extent practicable, identifies all assistance 
        and research expenditures at the account level in each of the 
        five previous fiscal years by the Federal Government using 
        Federal funds for Safe from the Start activities.
    (c) Appropriate Congressional Committees Defined.--In this section, 
the term ``appropriate congressional committees'' means--
            (1) the Committee on Appropriations and the Committee on 
        Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives; and
            (2) the Committee on Appropriations and the Committee on 
        Foreign Relations of the Senate.
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