After much debate and controversy, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was finally passed through the U.S. House of Representatives with a vote of 286-138 for the bi-partisan Senate version of the bill. The VAWA was originally passed in 1994. The purpose of the VAWA is to recognize the pervasive nature of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking among girls and women. The VAWA helps support organizations who are offering comprehensive support services to those affected by these crimes.
The VAWA has historically improved the criminal justice systems response to:
- Hold rapists accountable by strengthening federal penalities
- Increase rates of prosecution, conviction and sentencing of offenders
- Ensure that police respond to crisis calls and that judges understand the dynamics of domestic violence and sexual assault
- Improve safety for victims by supporting a coordinated community response
- Focus on the needs of girls and women in underserved communities
This critical piece of legislation is now set to be signed by President Barack Obama. CNN reports that Obama is ready to sign the VAWA.
“I look forward to signing it into law as soon as it hits my desk.” declares Obama.
This victory is one for victims of violence, as well as, service providers daily fighting for the rights of girls and women. The bill has been reauthorized for another five years which will contribute $659 million dollars to organizations that are addressing these critical issues.
House Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi spoke with fervor and passion in support of the VAWA. Many democrats and republicans were in favor of the bill. Despite the political controversy centered around the bill, the fact that it passed proves that no girl or woman deserves to be abused.
Regardless of our political affiliations, we must take a stand against violence towards girls and women.Together we can unite and raise our voices to enforce stricter policies and support organizations that are valiantly in the fight.
Included in the VAWA, was a second victory with the passing of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA). The TVPRA exists to monitor and combat the issue of trafficking in persons. The passing of the TVPRA sends a hopeful message to the 27 million people who are currently enslaved around the world.
The effect of the VAWA being passed will reach far greater heights for girls and women. For those of you who spent the past several months calling your congressmen and women I salute you! Without your support, these bills wouldn’t have been passed! Your voice matters. Policy Matters.
Did you advocate for the VAWA? Were you involved in the debate in your country? Tweet us your story @GirlsGlobe!
*Featured image courtesy of ywca.org