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NEWS BRIEF: 61 Days After Expiring, Violence Against Women Act Finally Reintroduced

December 1, 2011

Cross-posted at Ms.

At long last, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) have introduced the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) for reauthorization. The law, first enacted in 1994 and reauthorized in 2000 and 2005, expired on September 30.

VAWA programs improve criminal justice and community-based responses to domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking; create legal assistance programs for victims; and develop and implement prevention strategies. Since its original passage, reporting of domestic violence has increased by up to 51 percent while the percentage of women killed by a domestic partner has gone down 34 percent.

Though the Reauthorization Act cuts 2005 funding levels by 19 percent, it includes new measures such as improved training for law enforcement, victim service providers and court personnel; strengthening of tribal jurisdiction over crimes committed on Native land; expansion of federal housing protections and improved means of tracking funds. According to Senator Leahy:

The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act reflects Congress’s ongoing commitment to end domestic and sexual violence. It seeks to expand the law’s focus on sexual assault and to ensure access to services for all victims of domestic and sexual violence. The Violence Against Women Act has been successful because it has consistently had strong bipartisan support for nearly two decades. I am honored to work now with Senator Crapo to build on that foundation. I hope that Senators from both parties will support this bill, which will provide safety and security for victims across America.

I hope so, too.

Photo from Flickr user Helga Weber under Creative Commons 2.0.

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