Today is the 18th anniversary of President Clinton's signing of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) into law. The National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women, one of the partner organizations of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC - I am privileged to serve on the National Board), has developed the important statement below that I want to share with you and hope you'll share with many others.
Please call your Representative and Senators today and ask them to pass the inclusive VAWA bill now!
Since that day, VAWA has expanded its protections to victims of dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Since that day, VAWA has saved thousands of lives and brought safety to thousands of homes. VAWA’s programs have trained law enforcement, prosecution and court personnel to better understand the dynamics that make these four crimes such a burden on U.S. communities. Over the years, VAWA has created historic protections for immigrant victims and victims on tribal lands. VAWA has raised awareness about and improved responses to sexual assault and stalking. VAWA programs have disseminated prevention programs in middle schools and high schools. The homicide rates for victims of these crimes has dropped significantly.
Yet any child born on that bright day in September 1994, now turning 18 years old, still faces the specter of victimization, because there are so many areas VAWA did not cover in the 18 years since its passage. So in 2012 the Senate developed a new improved version of VAWA, a reauthorization that fills in so many of those gaps that pose dangers to youth who have never lived in a world without VAWA. Without the new version of VAWA, an 18 year old victim of sexual assault will not be able to secure safe housing. Without the new version of VAWA, an 18 year old victim of dating violence will find it difficult to obtain justice on campus. Without the new version of VAWA, many underserved communities, including the LGBT community, immigrant victims, and Native women, will have no place to go for help.
VAWA has done a stellar job of helping millions of victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking over 18 years. Let’s celebrate VAWA’s birthday by making sure all victims of violence can access help and justice. Congress can best say “Happy Birthday, VAWA!” by completing an inclusive bill and getting it to the President to be signed, as it once was on a bright September day.
Suggested message: “As a person of faith who believes in compassion and justice, I urge the Representative/Senator to support passage of the inclusive VAWA bill immediately. The inclusive bill rightly includes protections for some of the most vulnerable groups, including Native American women, immigrant women, and LGBT violence survivors. Thank you."