Extend Violence Against Women Act
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