Five Reasons to Be Excited About Passage of the Violence Against Women Act

Activists unite in Farragut Square in Washington, D.C. for the One Billion Rising event (Photo Credit: Sarah K. Eddy)

(Photo Credit: Sarah K. Eddy)

We did it! The groundbreaking Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was just passed by the House of Representatives and will now be sent to President Obama for his signature!

It’s been a long road to victory. I wrote earlier this year about the indefensible demise of VAWA in the last Congress. The last Congress missed a momentous opportunity to stand up for the safety of all women. So women – and men – stood up for themselves; on February 14, 2013, Amnesty International joined the One Billion Rising movement to stand up, walk out, and dance to end violence against women globally. We called for Congress to quit the partisan politics and finally pass a Violence Against Women Act that included ALL communities.

Since then, we have seen the new Congress introduce and pass VAWA in the Senate and now the House has followed suit.

This is an amazing victory that will help end violence against women in the United States – ALL women, not just some.

Here are the five reasons that I’m excited about this victory and that you should be too:

1. New provisions that will help Native American and Alaska Native women access justice. 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. VAWA helps change this by ensuring that Tribal courts can issue and enforce protective orders to help stop domestic violence against Indigenous women.

2. New provisions to help Immigrant women in the U.S. who often face higher rates of sexual harassment and of battering than other women, yet are less able to report these crimes due to their legal status, isolation and other factors.

3. Nondiscrimination provisions to help lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) survivors of violence. LGBT people often face discrimination based upon their sexual orientation and gender identity, preventing them from accessing life-saving support services.

4. Inclusion of the Trafficking Victims and Protection Act (TVPA). The Violence Against Women Act also includes a reauthorization of the TVPA, legislation that gives crucial tools to law enforcement to end human trafficking and provides critical services to trafficking survivors. Amnesty International identified the TVPA as a key tool in ensuring the rights of trafficking survivors and called for its reauthorization in our report on human rights abuses in the U.S. Southwest; In Hostile Terrain.

5. And finally, Reauthorization of VAWA which will ensure that millions of survivors will be able to continue to access critical programs and justice mechanisms to help end violence against women. VAWA, originally passed in 1994, is a groundbreaking law that extends protection to millions of women from sexual and domestic violence, and dating violence.

Take a moment to celebrate this victory today, call your Member of Congress and tell them how excited you are that VAWA has been reauthorized. And while you’re at it, take action to help stop violence against women globally. Tell your Member of Congress to cosponsor the International Violence Against Women Act when it is reintroduced in Congress.

Want to learn more? Visit us to read more about Amnesty International’s work on women’s human rights.

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13 thoughts on “Five Reasons to Be Excited About Passage of the Violence Against Women Act

  1. VAWA is a great help to all humans. Women who suffer violence have male children, brothers, male friends, uncles, male cousins, male co-workers and others who are all indirectly affected when a woman is victimized.

  2. Thanks to VAWA, my sister is being abused with his american husband including the childrens. VAWA protected her and the childrens, now she is living free and have own life. Damages still there, but my sister is recoping.

  3. Right on Caroline. It is a great day for us all, women, children and men. It will still take a long time to change mentalities, but this reautorisation of VAWA and TVPA, with extensions to cover native American, Alaskan, immigrant women and LGBT personnes is a great stride along the way to a peaceful world.
    Also, if your President does the right thing for curbing the arms trade – that, too, will spare the lives of many women, children and innocent victims of all genders.

  4. Oh read the Violence against Women Act passed and going for final signature……..that's great and hope the passage is completed. Violence against women is of so many kinds; I've been framed by a group of superior and authority figures and not allowed due process; suffered serious adult bullying and mental cruelty and am trying to file human rights violations. ( perpetrators laugh with cute comments like "we didn't mean to make her crazy just make her 'face reality' .." ) These have been acts of emotional violence and mental cruelty and I don't think this would have happened if I were a "guy" or if I were married.

  5. The new VAWA legislation is a celebration for ALL victims of intimate partner violence — not just women. VAWA protections also cover males and transgender individuals who are victims of abuse. Because these groups are often especially invisible (within an already largely invisible social problem), it is important to acknowledge this as a victory for all victim/survivors and advocates who work for victim/survivors, not just women.

  6. I hope this includes the protection of African American women from White Supremacist attacks. I was raped, recently, by White Supremacist at a shelter. I'm a victim of gender discrimination, racial discrimination, and White Supremacist Violent attacks. The racist beat me ( in my upper torso.) I suffered a broken tail bone, broken rib, broken toe, my hair was pulled out, The White Supremacist struck at night by injecting me with an anastetic and violently raping me . I awoke injured and beaten. I have left the shelter because White Supremacist should not have access or control over shelter facilities. I'm being oppressed by these White Supremacist for filing a sexual harassment complaint and I was fired from my job 11years ago. White Supremacist pursue me where ever I go. After the violent rape 7-30-13, I left the area. I relocated to a different state and city. I went to a walk in clinic to get treatment for my injuries and was turned away due to medical coverage. I asked to be billed and was told they could not bill me. I am, currently, suffering from rape trauma and injuries.

    Thank you for standing up for the Human Rights of Women

    Sincerely,
    Marietta,CA

  7. There are five reasons if in the political or economical sense, but in reality there are so many more! It's a life changing event for everyone, not just women

  8. It has been a very long journey and I'm glad to see it has finally come to an end. I hope to see a lot of changes in the very near future. Congratulations to everyone! This is a win for all human kind!