Ex­tend Vi­o­lence Against Women Act

North Penn Life - - Opinion -

Ear­lier this month mem­bers of the U.S. Se­nate scored points on be­half of rape and domestic vi­o­lence vic­tims, and bi­par­ti­san­ship, when they voted 78-22 to ex­tend and ex­pand the sio­lence Against Women Act.

Drafted by sice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den 19 years ago dur­ing his ten­ure as a Delaware’s se­na­tor, the sio­lence Against Women Act was signed into law as part of the sio­lent Crime Con­trol and Law En­force­ment Act by Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton on Sept. 13, 1994.

,Q 2012, IRU WKH fiUVW WLPH VLQFH WKH DFW’V LQFHSWLRQ, CRQJUHVV failed to re-au­tho­rize the law be­cause the oepub­li­can-dom­i­nated House ob­jected to equal pro­tec­tion for gay men and les­bians, Na­tive Amer­i­cans liv­ing on reser­va­tions and un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants who are vic­tims of domestic vi­o­lence. The act al­ready cov­ers het­ero­sex­ual men.

How­ever, women are still pre­dom­i­nantly the vic­tims of such crimes. Three women a day are killed by their hus­bands or boyfriends in the United States, ac­cord­ing to Bi­den. Na­tive Amer­i­can and Alaskan Na­tive women are more than 2.5 times more likely to be raped or sex­u­ally as­saulted than other women in the United States, ac­cord­ing to the U.S. De­part­ment of Jus­tice.

The sio­lence Against Women Act pro­vides fund­ing for the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and pros­e­cu­tion of such crimes as domestic vi­o­lence and rape. It has im­posed au­to­matic and manda­tory resti­tu­tion on con­victed as­sailants and al­lowed civil re­course for cases that pros­e­cu­tors fail to pros­e­cute.

The law has im­proved the crim­i­nal jus­tice re­sponse by cre­at­ing a rape shield law prevent­ing of­fend­ers from us­ing vic­tims’ sex­ual his­to­ries against them at trial, strength­en­ing fed­eral penal­ties for re­peat sex of­fend­ers and not re­quir­ing vic­tims to bear the ex­pense of rape ex­am­i­na­tions or pro­tec­tion from abuse or­ders. It also en­sures pro­tec­tion or­ders are rec­og­nized and en­forced in all U.S. ju­ris­dic­tions.

The law has helped in­crease rates of pros­e­cu­tion, con­vic­tion and sen­tenc­ing by as­sist­ing lo­cal law en­force­ment agen­cies in de­vel­op­ing spe­cial vic­tims units and an­nu­ally train­ing more WKDQ 500,000 ODw HQIRUFHPHQW RI­fiFHUV, MuGJHV, SURVHFuWRUV and oth­ers about domestic and sex­ual vi­o­lence. It also es­tab­lished the Na­tional Domestic sio­lence Hot­line that re­ceives more than 22,000 calls each month.

As a re­sult of the law, all states have passed laws that make stalk­ing a crime, treat spousal and date rape se­ri­ously, pro­vide crim­i­nal sanc­tions for vi­o­la­tions of civil pro­tec­tion or­ders and au­tho­rize war­rant­less ar­rests in misdemeanor domestic YLROHQFH FDVHV wKHUH UHVSRQGLQJ RI­fiFHUV GHWHUPLQH SUREDEOH cause ex­ists.

It would seem sup­port­ing re-au­tho­riza­tion of the sio­lence Against Women Act would be a no-brainer for a leg­is­la­tor no PDWWHU wKDW KLV RU KHU SROLWLFDO DI­fiOLDWLRQ.

Many be­lieve House oepub­li­cans’ re­sis­tance last year to in­clud­ing mi­nor­ity groups in the ex­panded anti-vi­o­lence act was an at­tempt to ap­pease ex­treme right wing vot­ers in a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion year.

The House oepub­li­cans’ ver­sion of the leg­is­la­tion is ex­pected to be voted on this week, though dif­fer­ences with the Se­nate ver­sion have not been re­solved. Lets hope the House and Se­nate can agree on a ver­sion to ex­tend this law, which is crit­i­cal to the well-be­ing of more than 160 mil­lion Amer­i­can women,

Jour­nal Reg­is­ter News Ser­vice

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