Remarks to Introduce U.S. Department of State Speaker Scott Jenkins at the Hungarian Association of Women Judges

Jó napot kivánok/Good afternoon.

To start, I want to thank the Hungarian Association of Women Judges for hosting this event today and providing a forum for today’s presentation by the visiting speaker for the U.S. Department of State, Lieutenant Scott Jenkins, a retired U.S. police officer and expert in the prevention and prosecution of domestic and gender-based violence.  His visit offers a unique opportunity to gather together Hungary’s brightest women judges, lawyers, and legal minds to discuss a problem that affects far too many families, every day, in every country around the world, and which disproportionately impacts women.

And this is a problem that is all too often ignored, swept under the rug, or treated as a taboo, with the victims feeling ashamed or made to feel ashamed.  We who are in a position of power and influence have the responsibility to give a voice to the voiceless and to work for change.

Worldwide, according to statistics collected by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, it is estimated that one in three women has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime, with intimate partner violence as the most common form of violence experienced by women globally. This violence cuts across ethnic, racial, socio-economic, and religious lines, and knows no borders.

In the United States, on average, 20 people per minute are victims of physical violence by an intimate partner. Over the course of a year, that equals more than 10 million women and men.

Nearly one in 4 women has been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner, while 1 in 7 men have experienced the same.

More than 1 in 4 women and more than 1 in 10 men have experienced contact sexual violence, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner and reported significant short- or long-term impacts, such as post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms and injury.

The United States continues to seek ways to prevent any child, any daughter or sisters, son or brothers – from falling victim to domestic or gender-based violence.

In August 2012, the United States was proud to release its first-ever Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence Globally, along with an Executive Order signed by President Obama directing its implementation.  The strategy sets out concrete objectives and actions to marshal the United States’ expertise and capacity to address gender-based violence.  The strategy represents a multi-sector and government-wide approach—one that includes the justice, legal, security, health, education, economic, social services, humanitarian, and development sectors.

In November 2014, Secretary of State Kerry reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to eradicating the scourge of gender-based violence, stating, “We will not turn away in the face of evil and brutality. We stand up, and we reaffirm that sexual violence will be not be tolerated. Not now, not ever.”

We must take concrete steps to end domestic and gender-based violence.  Within our own homes, our own communities, and our own governments, we must each find ways to build a strong social system that identifies and resolves potential problems before they start, to assist and support victims in coming forward without fear or shame, and to establish the transparent, fair and thorough legal frameworks necessary to investigate and prosecute these crimes.

I am heartened by the presence of so many strong, smart, empowered women in this room.  I am confident that all of you here today have the necessary knowledge, experience, and determination to create these systems, help the victims, and bring offenders to justice.

As U.S. Ambassador to Hungary, especially as a female ambassador, it is my honor to bring speakers like Scott Jenkins to Hungary to work with such talented people as yourselves to address this problem as a global community.  Lieutenant Jenkins, with over 31 years of experience as a police officer with the Duluth Police Department, has addressed audiences around the world, including in my home town of Los Angeles, on best practices regarding law enforcement responses to domestic violence cases and in the development of police policy and response protocols.  I am certain his presentation today will encourage a discussion about finding social and legal solutions to domestic and gender-based violence both today and far into the future.  Thank you.  Köszönöm szépen.