WASHINGTON, Feb. 28, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In an effort to draw attention to the prevalence of honor violence – including forced marriage, disfigurement and female genital mutilation – in advance of International Women's Day, and to promote passage of the International Violence Against Women Act now pending in the U.S. House of Representatives, two Muslim women and human rights activists will address the issue at a National Press Club Newsmakers news conference on Monday, March 3.
They will be joined by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), sponsor of the bipartisan International Violence Against Women Act, (IVAWA), and Celia Richa of Futures Without Violence. Speaking will be author Raheel Raza, president of the Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow and founder of Canada's Forum 4 Learning, and Manda Zand Ervin, an Iranian political refugee who is dedicated to publicizing the plight of Iranian women under the Islamic Sharia laws. Raza speaks regularly at the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva. Ervin is frequently consulted by members of Congress on human rights and Iran policy issues. President George W. Bush named Ervin as the U.S. Delegate to the UN Commission on the Status of Women in 2008. Raza and Ervin appear in the new, award-winning documentary Honor Diaries, which details stories from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, the UK, Canada and the US as told by nine diverse women who have been touched by honor violence. The film debuts around the world during the week of March 2. Honor violence is abuse committed against women for the purpose of protecting the "honor" of the individual perpetrator, family or community. Frequently, female family members are complicit in the acts of abuse. According to the UN, more than 125 million women and girls around the world have been mutilated in acts of honor violence since 1989, while in the U.S., more than 1,500 forced marriages occur each year.