Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) with a strong bipartisan vote of 286-138. The bill will help improve VAWA programs that provide indispensable aid to survivors of sexual and domestic violence through shelters, legal aid, medical attention, and other resources. It will strengthen protection for all victims of violence, including Native American, immigrant, and LGBTQ victims. We urge you to thank your representative for voting for this important legislation or, if they did not vote for it, express your disappointment in their decision. You can see who voted for and against the bill here. You can find the representative for your district and their contact information here.
Violence against women continues to be a significant problem in our country. Nearly one in five women have been raped in their lifetime, and one in four women have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner. VAWA supports local domestic violence programs that offer emergency shelter, transitional housing, supportive counseling, advocacy, and other services to more than 67,000 victims every day. With help from advocates, referrals, and the information they need, survivors are less likely to experience re-victimization and more likely to fare better in short- and long-term recovery.
VAWA programs, invaluable to the people who need them the most, are also fiscally responsible. The bipartisan VAWA Reauthorization bill (S. 47) uses the federal dollars put towards resources for survivors of sexual and domestic violence in a cost-effective way. The bill consolidates thirteen existing programs into four to avoid duplicative services and lessen administrative costs. Helping women (or men--VAWA does not discriminate) to regain independence and self-sufficiency is extremely important for survivors and for society. As Vice President Biden states, “This is not a Democratic or Republican issue--it’s an issue of justice and compassion.”
We are glad representatives in the House avoided potentially harmful amendments that would have weakened the Violence Against Women Act, and we eagerly await President Obama’s signature to make the reauthorization official. We thank you for all your support and for contacting your representatives--every call makes a difference!