President Barack Obama signed the Violence Against Women Act back into law Thursday.
The renewed and expanded VAWA passed in the Senate in a 78-22 vote and the House 286-138. It includes the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, as well as extending protections to lesbian, gay, transgender, immigrant and Native American people. It authorizes the spending of $600 million to fund over 22 grant programs.
“Now our nation will be better equipped to deal with domestic violence,” said the White House’s Advisor on Domestic Violence, Lynn Rosenthal, during a press conference.
According to Rosenthal, annual domestic violence rates have dropped 64 percent since passage of the act in 1994, but three women die every day as a result of domestic violence on average.
Rosenthal took time to address how the new VAWA affects college students. She said one in five women will be sexually assaulted while in college, and VAWA has added in new requirements and programs aimed specifically at reducing those numbers with the help of college and university police departments.
The act originally was drafted in 1994 by then-Senator Joe Biden, and signed into law by former President Bill Clinton. The act was renewed twice, in 2000 and 2005, but failed re-authorization last year over objections from some lawmakers about extending the act’s protections to same-sex couples and provisions granting temporary visas to battered illegal immigrants.
Some things in VAWA include the federal rape shield laws for survivors of domestic violence, funding for victim assistance services and violence prevention programs. The expanded VAWA includes new programs and funding to assist battered illegal immigrants and changes to the tribal law system used by Native Americans.
“VAWA will improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the tribal law system,” Rosenthal said. “We’re also pleased that congress held the line and maintained the protections for immigrants.”
For more information about VAWA, go to www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/vawa_factsheet.pdf.
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