House Passes a Renewed & Expanded Violence Against Women Act
In 1994, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was signed into federal law by President Bill Clinton. It was a landmark bill that MAKER Esta Soler heavily influenced:
"We took an issue that was private; took an issue that people said is not serious, and we made it a public issue in a public forum with public policy."
In 2011, however, the 1994 Act expired because of disagreement over different versions of the bill and certain areas of contention regarding undocumented immigrants, LGBT individuals, and Native American jurisdiction over sex crimes.
On Thursday, the Senate and House finally renewed and expanded VAWA. The newly authorized legislation creates and expands federal programs to assist local communities with law enforcement and aid victims of domestic sexual abuse.
Most notable expansions include further protections for LGBT victims of domestic abuse, as well as allowing American Indian women who are assaulted on reservations by non-Indians to take their case to tribal courts, which otherwise would not have jurisdiction over assailants who do not live on tribal land.
Over five years, the bill will grant more than $650 million to state and local governments to provide transitional housing, legal advice, and other services to victims.
So, after 500 days of delay, VAWA is finally headed to President Obama's desk for his signature. Hats off to dedicated legislators and advocates who fought for the bill's passing including House Democratic Leader and MAKER Nancy Pelosi.