Tell Congress--Reauthorize Violence Against Women Act

Posted 6/13/19

About one in four women will experience psychological, physical or sexual violence in her lifetime, often by an intimate partner and often witnessed by children. Transgender and people who identify …

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Tell Congress--Reauthorize Violence Against Women Act

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About one in four women will experience psychological, physical or sexual violence in her lifetime, often by an intimate partner and often witnessed by children. Transgender and people who identify as nonbinary also experience extremely high rates of violence.

One federal law has helped reduce the rates of violence, but its future stands in question.

Since it was first authorized by a bipartisan Congress in 1994, the Violence Against Women Act has provided $7 billion to fund everything from rape crisis centers to law enforcement efforts to investigate and prosecute such crimes. It has been reauthorized about every five years since. Department of Justice reports filed with Congress note funding under the act has helped reduce the rate of violence against women.

As Malinda Williams, executive director of Community Against Violence, notes in her column this week, VAWA has been an important source of funding for programs that address domestic and intimate partner crimes. That's particularly important in states such as New Mexico, she notes, which "still ranks among the worst in the nation for intimate partner homicides and rates of violence."

VAWA ended in February. Funding under it for programs ends in September.

In April, the House reauthorized the act, but so far, Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell hasn't allowed the bill to come up for a vote in the Senate. The NRA opposes the VAWA bill because it includes a new "boyfriend loophole" provision that allows law enforcement to remove firearms from a dating partner convicted of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking and prevents them from buying firearms. That addition to VAWA could hurt its chances of passing the Republican-controlled Senate, but advocates say it is critical to protecting more women.

But in an atmosphere that seems increasingly under the current administration to be on the attack against women, the possibility that VAWA won't be refunded has increased.

Don't let that happen. Call, email and text senators. Urge them to reach a compromise and pass VAWA soon. Programs depend on the funding for their critical work helping victims and investigations of violence against women and others.

Urge Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to schedule a hearing immediately for the VAWA reauthorization: office (202) 224-2541; email: Senator@McConnell.senate.gov. Find the numbers and emails for all the senators at senate.gov/senators/contact.

To see the reports to Congress on violence against women and the effectiveness of programs, go to justice.gov/ovw/reports-congress.

Coffee Talk with the editor

We're meeting early this week. 7:30 a.m. today at El Taoseño, 819 Paseo Del Pueblo Sur, Taos. Swing on by before you go to work for a cup of coffee and conversation with editor Staci Matlock and webmaster Kyra Wyant.

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