The Indefensible Demise of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

women protest violence against women

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As the clock counted down the few remaining minutes of the 112th Congress, the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) failed to reach the finish line in a politically and ideologically divided Congress. Since 1994, VAWA has ensured that millions of women who are experiencing domestic and sexual violence, dating violence, and stalking receive the protection and support that they need through legal and social services.  After 18 years of bipartisan support, Congress’s failure to reauthorize VAWA is an outrageous and indefensible roadblock to the goal of ending violence against women and fulfilling the right of all women to live lives free of intimidation and violence.

Inexcusably, House Republican leaders’ opposition to full inclusion of all at-risk communities eventually doomed the legislation.  Congress’s inability to act means that millions of women and men will be left without access to some of the critical resources and protections contained in VAWA reauthorization.

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New Legislation to End Violence Against Native Women

2012 marks a big step forward in reclaiming justice for Native American and Alaska Native women! On February 2nd, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

Originally passed in 1994, VAWA has combined criminal justice, social services and community-based initiatives to enhance the prevention and response to violence against women.

This reauthorization is all the more crucial this year because VAWA now also incorporates the groundbreaking new protections for Native American and Alaska Native Women found in the SAVE Native Women Act, such as clarifying tribal civil jurisdiction to issue and enforce protection orders. These protections will help address many of the safety and justice challenges faced by Native women in the United States and documented in our 2007 Maze of Injustice report.

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