The 112th Congress, which gavelled out this morning, has been referred to by many as one of the worst in history. One of the things the House failed to accomplish was renewal of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Since 1994, when the bill was first signed by President Clinton, VAWA helped victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking access needed services, and it improved the criminal justice system’s ability to investigate and prosecute violent crimes against women. The bill faced almost no opposition since it was signed, until recently.
The Senate passed a version of VAWA last April in what was expected to be a routine reauthorization. However some Republicans expressed opposition to parts of the bill that extended protections to tribal, immigrant and LGBT communities and so they passed a watered-down version that excluded those at-risk populations. And in the final days of the 112th Congress, they let the bill die.
One in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. An average of three women in the United States lose their lives every day as a result of domestic abuse. After an election cycle where the Republican presidential nominee wooed women like crazy, but women turned out to re-elect his opponent, you might expect we’d see some changes and some serious consideration of issues that affect women’s lives. But that’s not happening just yet. Luckily, as of today, 81 women now serve in the House of Representatives, a record high. They join 20 women now serving in the Senate, some of whom you can see below speaking in support of VAWA. Senator Patty Murray has reportedly said she will reintroduce the issue this year. This is why we need more women in politics.
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