Happy 18th Birthday, VAWA!

GOP Continues to Block Violence Against Women Act

Today is the 18th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act, a law originally drafted by then-Sen. Joe Biden and signed by President Bill Clinton back in 1994. ThinkProgress’ Annie-Rose Strasser rounds up the law’s many successes:

  • Victims can call for help. The National Domestic Violence Hotline was established as part of VAWA. It currently serves over 22,000 victims a month and has taken a total of 3 million calls.
  • Law enforcement officers are trained to help victims. 500,000 law enforcement officials, judges, and prosecutors a year are trained with VAWA funding to help domestic abuse victims.
  • Partner violence and homicides fell. From the year before VAWA’s passage until 2008, the number of women being killed by partners dropped 43 percent, and partner violence against women fell 53 percent.
  • Stalking became illegal. Before VAWA, stalking was not a federal crime. The law established stalking as a felony offense.
  • Rape is rape, no exceptions. Since the passage of VAWA, each state in the United States has updated its laws so that rape by a partner is treated equally to rape by a stranger.

Unfortunately, the law is a year past due for reauthorization and Republicans in the House of Representatives continue to hold it hostage. This stands in marked contrast to every single other reauthorization, each of which sailed through Congress.

The Senate passed a modernized version of the law that expanded protects for LGBT people, immigrants, and Native Americans by an overwhelming, bipartisan 68-31 margin. Rather than even take up that bill, the House instead passed a partisan bill that excludes important protections for the aforementioned groups and other improvements to landmark law.

BOTTOM LINE: There’s no excuse for House Republicans to keep holding up a law that has successfully protected women for nearly two decades.

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Advocacy Team