Five hundred days later, the Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives finally voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that was originally passed in 1994. The bill passed the House with a vote of 286-138. The 138 votes against the bill all came from the Republicans. Despite Republican opposition, President Obama renewed VAWA today amongst a crowd of pleased supporters.
VAWA was first passed to provide federal funding for programs and research aimed to help victims of rape and domestic violence to find safety and justice. It was expanded to include protection to victims of all classifications such as, LGBT victims, Native Americans and immigrants.
President Obama made sure to discuss how VAWA would affect immigrant women living in the United States. The President stated, “Today is about the women who come to Rosie Hidalgo looking for support, immigrants who are victims of domestic abuse,” he said. “If your immigration status is tied to a husband who beats you or abuses you, if you’re an undocumented immigrant, you may feel there’s too much to lose by coming forward.”
Obama further added: “The Violence Against Women Act already had protections so that victims could call the police without fear of deportation, and those protections saved lives. And because we fought hard to keep them in place, they remain a lifeline for so many women.”
In large part, VAWA focuses on those communities where women are less likely to have a voice and therefore are less able to seek recourse. Since its initiation, VAWA has helped reduce incidents of domestic violence by two-thirds.
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