Congress is running out of time to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), critical legislation that combines criminal justice, social services and community-based initiatives to prevent and respond to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual violence and stalking.
This spring we told you about the debate in the Senate to pass an inclusive bill that included critical new provisions to protect and support Native American and Alaskan Native women, immigrant women, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals.
Although the Senate managed to pass an inclusive bill, one step forward has meant two steps back as Congress continues to stall on protecting women from violence.
As the August Congressional recess approaches, the safety of these communities remains in jeopardy as reauthorization falls prey to partisan politics. Every day that goes by without reauthorization of an inclusive VAWA is more one more day that women’s safety hangs in the balance.
Now is the best chance that we have to pass VAWA before the Members of Congress leave to focus on their own reelection in November.
Here are three reasons why passing an inclusive VAWA is so critical:
- Native American and Alaska Native women face complex jurisdictional issues that make protection, reporting, and prosecution of domestic violence nearly impossible. Imagine telling the police that you have been assaulted and having them tell you, too bad, we can’t help. This is the current reality for far too many Native American and Alaska Native women.
- Immigrant women in the U.S. often face higher rates of sexual harassment and of battering than other women, yet these women are less able to report these crimes due to their legal status, isolation and other factors.
- LGBT survivors often face discrimination based upon their sexual orientation and gender identity, preventing them from accessing life-saving support services.
New provisions in VAWA would address these issues – but not if Congress can’t agree to get it done!
Don’t let Congress go on recess without protecting women from violence. Demand that Congress take action NOW to pass an inclusive VAWA that protects all individuals and communities, including Native American and Alaska Native women, immigrant women, and LGBT individuals.