Bipartisanship key in renewing historically successful Violence Against Women Act
First enacted in 1994 and then reauthorized in 2000 and 2005, the Violence Against Women Act has been an instrumental piece of legislation for improving criminal justice and community-based responses to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking in the U.S.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline was also established with the authorization of this act. It has answered more than 3 million calls and receives more than 22,000 calls every month, according to the White House fact sheet for VAWA.
From 1993 to 2007, the rate of intimate partner homicides of females decreased 35 percent and the rate of intimate partner homicides of males decreased 46 percent.
Now every state has passed laws to make stalking a crime.
However, VAWA expired in 2011.
In 2012, the House of Representatives and the Senate were unable to reconcile their different versions of the bill, and it was never passed.
Now that it is up for reauthorization again, the debate has shifted to provisions that would provide greater protection for a wider range of people. Just last week, the Senate voted for reconsideration of the bill and it is currently up for debate in the House.
These added provisions would be extremely beneficial in making this act not only broader but also more effective, as it would cover more women who need protection.
But these provisions cannot pass without bipartisan cooperation.
These proposed expansions would include coverage for illegal immigrants, LGBT members and American Indians. Tribal courts would be given greater authority to prosecute non-American Indians who commit crimes against American Indian women on tribal lands.
Another important addition to the bill is a renewal of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. This would make penalties for sex traffickers stricter, as well as better protect trafficking victims, according to the New York Times.
However, this provision has become controversial, especially with Republicans, due to the Obama administration’s insistence that contractors afford victims access to a full range of reproductive health services under the act.
Republicans may see these provisions as a mere tactic by Democrats to continue claiming that Republicans are “anti-woman,” and some conservatives feel the act does very little to help the issue while overextending the federal government’s reach.
But political affliations shouldn’t be the sole factor in deciding if this act is renewed or not.
Politicians should look at the program as a whole to see if it has been successful.
From 1993 to 2010, partner violence declined by 67 percent. There has been an increase in the number of victims who report abuse to police. The lives the act has saved, and the number of women who were able to get help when they needed it speak louder than any partisan debate.
This act encompasses many different types of violence against women and would provide all women with necessary resources and protection. If Republicans want to shed their sexist image, they should pass the act in order to truly help all the women in our society.
– Razanne Chatila is a journaism sophomore. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions.