Re: “Washington state ready to welcome 1,700 Afghan refugees, Gov. Jay Inslee says” [Oct. 22, Local News]:

I am glad for the women and children who have managed to leave Afghanistan but particularly concerned for those left behind.

Globally, whenever emergencies and crises occur, there is a dramatic rise in the incidence of gender-based violence (GBV), including child marriage, rape as a war tactic, trafficking or sexual assault. Armed actors, lack of access to services and growing food insecurity in Afghanistan have created an environment where women and girls are at heightened risk.

Thankfully, there is a solution.

Since 2013, the U.S. has led global efforts to address gender-based violence in emergencies through Safe from the Start. This United States Agency for International Development program prevents and responds to GBV during humanitarian crises. It includes developing safe spaces, survivor-centered services and training of local organizations, and it actively empowers women and girls to be leaders in their communities.

To ensure continued resources for this critical program, I am asking U.S. Sen. Patty Murray to please join Sen. Maria Cantwell and Rep. Pramila Jayapal in co-sponsoring the Safe from the Start Act (H.R. 571, S.765). With this bill, Congress can make a difference in the lives of women and children.

Francisca Engmann, Shoreline, World Vision advocate