"All women deserve the right to live free from fear," President Obama said, (USAToday.com)
Last year the Congress failed to come to an agreement to reauthorize the act. This year, the Senate passed the bill on a 78-22 vote which included every Democrat, every woman, and 23 of 45 Republicans. An attempt to remove the protections for new groups was eventually rejected and the bill passed the House on a 286-238 vote, (FOXnews.com).
"The Violence Against Women Act has set the standard for how to protect women, and some men, from domestic abuse and prosecute abusers and is credited with helping reduce domestic violence incidents by two-thirds since its inception in 1994," (Bostom.com).
Selected VAMA Provisions
- Enables domestic violence crimes against women to be prosecuted in federal courts
- Prevents service providers from refusing services to gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual victims of domestic violence
- Offers grants for transitional housing and legal assistance
- Offers grants for law enforcement training and hotlines
- Reauthorizes the Trafficking Victims Protection Act
- Allows Tribal Courts to prosecute non-native attackers of Native American women on tribal lands
- Adds stalking to the list of crimes for which protection is available to undocumented immigrants
- Supports programs to reduce sexual assaults on college campuses
- Authorizes programs to reduce the backlog of rape investigations
Native American women experience domestic violence at roughly twice the rate of the general U.S. population. Although Native American Tribes are legally sovereign nations, U.S. federal law and Supreme Court rulings have not enabled Tribal Courts to exert jurisdiction and prosecute non-native American perpetrators of crimes on their lands.
This is a huge barrier to justice for Native American women, nearly half of whom are married to non-American Indians. In fact, nearly "77 percent of people living in American Indian and Alaska Native areas are non-Indian, according to a recent Census report," (AP.org). The latest version of the Violence Against Women Act will change that in regard to domestic violence.
‘‘One of the great legacies of this law is it didn’t just change the rules, it changed our culture. It empowered people to start speaking out,’’ Obama said, (Boston.com)
Associated Press, "Congress Passes Bill Renewing Violence Against Women Act," FoxNews.com, 2-28-2013.
Cohen, Tom, "House Passes Violence Against Women Act After GOP Version Defeated," CNN.com, 2-28-2013.
Fonseca, Felicia, "Law Gives Tribes New Authority Over Non-Indians," AP.org, 3-7-2013.
Jackson, David, "Obama Signs Renewal of Violence Against Women Act," USAToday.com, 3-7-2013.
Lederman, Josh, "Obama Signs Expanded Violence Against Women Act," Bostom.com, 3-7-2013.
Parker, Ashley, "House Renews Violence Against Women Measure," NYTimes.com, 2-28-2013.