Congress Finally Reauthorizes VAWA After Years of Republican Stalling

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Kathy Sherlock, whose 7-year-old daughter Kayden was killed by her ex-partner, and the namesake of Kayden’s Legislation in Pennsylvania which was additionally added to the federal Violence Towards Ladies Act, will get a hug from President Joe Biden on the White Home on March 16. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Occasions by way of Getty Photographs)

This week, we celebrated the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which was included with the fiscal yr appropriations package deal accepted by Congress. VAWA is an important help for girls throughout the nation experiencing violence, extra so than ever on this present second. The COVID-19 pandemic, with its financial stressors and repeated lockdowns, has compounded domestic violence problems, main advocates to call it a “shadow pandemic.”

This yr’s VAWA renewal additionally contains a number of essential enhancements upon previous variations of the laws, thanks largely to hardworking feminists in Congress together with Reps. Jackie Speier (D-N.Y.) and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), and Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.). These adjustments embody a closure of a law enforcement consent loophole; it’s going to now be against the law for officers to have intercourse with anybody of their custody, no matter consent. The reauthorization additionally contains provisions meant to gather knowledge that may assist handle sexual violence on faculty campuses; in addition to Kayden’s Legislation, which can help protect at-risk children in custody battles.

“The VAWA Reauthorization Act of 2022 will broaden prevention efforts and protections for survivors, together with these from underserved communities, and can present elevated sources and coaching for regulation enforcement and our judicial system,” Biden mentioned final month when the invoice was launched. “It is going to strengthen rape prevention and schooling efforts, help rape disaster facilities, enhance the coaching of sexual assault forensic examiners, and broaden entry to authorized companies for all survivors, amongst different issues.”

“Nobody, no matter gender or sexual orientation, ought to expertise abuse. Interval. And in the event that they do they need to have the service and help to get by it, and we’re not going to relaxation,” the president mentioned at a Wednesday occasion celebrating the invoice’s passage.

Initially handed in 1994, thanks largely to the efforts of then-Senator Joe Biden, VAWA was a watershed second within the combat towards gendered violence—together with the primary federal felony legal guidelines towards battering, in addition to very important funding for survivor help companies.

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The Obama administration’s reauthorization of the Violence Towards Ladies Act in 2013. (Wikimedia Commons)

Since its preliminary passage, the act has been reauthorized a number of instances—in 2000, 2005 and 2013, with elevated protections for weak communities, together with girls of coloration, LGBTQ+ individuals and immigrant girls. Whereas it was due for reauthorization as soon as once more in 2019, it was blocked attributable to Republican stonewalling. The present reauthorization will final till 2027. 

Wednesday marked the one-year anniversary of the Atlanta taking pictures that took eight lives, together with six Asian girls. Within the yr since this horrible hate crime came about, Asian and Asian American girls have continued to face widespread racialized and gendered violence throughout the U.S., from the subways in New York Metropolis to the streets of San Francisco. 

Writing in Ms. this week, psychology professor Anne Noticed emphasised the compounding nature of bearing witness to those occasions, as an Asian American lady: “The information cycle has moved on—however I refuse to,” she writes. “Every time I see an image of the newest Asian American lady sufferer, I see a member of the family, a pal. I see me.”

To the ladies throughout the U.S. who proceed to expertise and bear witness to this violence frequently: We see you, and you aren’t alone. 

Should you or a beloved one are experiencing home violence, know that assist is out there. The Nationwide Home Violence Hotline is out there to assist at ​​800.799.SAFE (7233) or thehotline.org.

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