This morning the sexual violence movement witnessed a monumental piece of history: the passage of the Violence Against Women Act. The Act, initially put into law in 1994, had lapsed last year. Advocates and policy makers worked throughout 2012 to reauthorize the bill but ended the year with dueling versions of VAWA, one in the House and one in the Senate. 2013 has brought a new energy to the movement to end violence against women, with the passage of a bipartisan bill, which originated in the Senate. This bill offers protection to a greater number of women throughout the country, including immigrant, Native American, and LGBTQ women (protections that were not guaranteed in all 2012 versions of VAWA).

“I pray that this body will do as the Senate has done and come together as one to protect all women from violence,” [Representative Gwen Moore (D- Wisconsin] said. “As I think about the L.G.B.T. victims who are not here, the native women who are not here, the immigrants who aren’t in this bill, I would say, as Sojourner Truth would say, ‘Ain’t they women?’” (NY Times)

The bipartisan effort reflects the impact of female advocacy and voting records in recent elections.

The anti-violence bill should never have become partisan, said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., a sponsor of the Senate bill. “That is why I applaud moderate Republican voices in the House who stood up to their leadership to demand a vote on the Senate bill.” The Senate passed its bill on a 78-22 vote with every Democrat, every woman senator and 23 of 45 Republicans supporting it. (AP)

The next step for the bill? Headed to the President’s desk for a signature.
The next step for you? Call your congressional representative and thank them for the work they have done to ensure protections for all women! You can find more information about contacting your representatives here.

For immediate relase: February 28, 2013
Contact: Monika Johnson Hostler, President, [email protected]
NAESV Commends United States House of Representatives on Passage of VAWA
Today, The United States House of Representatives approved the bipartisan Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), S. 47, by a vote of 286 to 138. In an earlier vote, the House fell short of approving the House substitute by a vote of 257 to 166. The strong bipartisan vote of 78 to 22 in the Senate earlier this month influenced House Republican leadership and resulted in the agreement to bring the Senate bill to the House floor for a vote. The bill will now go to President Obama, and upon his signature, it will become law.
“The National Alliance to End Sexual Violence is thrilled with the passage of VAWA by the House today. The House has now joined the Senate in ensuring that the most vulnerable victims of sexual assault and domestic violence will be protected. Congress has signaled a new day in this nation’s efforts to address the crime of rape,” said Monika Johnson Hostler, Board President. Survivors, activists, state coalitions, and advocates at the nation’s 1300 rape crisis centers worked together with hundreds of national partners to achieve this decisive and heartening victory. S. 47 includes critical new measures to augment the response to sexual assault including:

  • Creating tools for states to address the criminal justice response to rape;
  • Dedicating set-asides in the STOP and Arrest programs for sexual assault;
  • Strengthening state-level VAWA planning processes;
  • Renewing the Sexual Assault Services and Rape Prevention and Education programs;
  • Extending first ever federal public housing protections for victims of sexual assault;
  • Increasing and improving efforts to address the rape kit backlog;
  • Reauthorizing the Trafficking Victims Protection Act;
  • Explicitly protecting LGBT victims;
  • Fortifying tribes’ ability to hold offenders accountable; and
  • Expanding protections for victims on college campuses

Advocates work long hours for little pay 24 hours a day at rape crisis centers in every state to address the immediate and long-term needs of victims of sexual violence and prevent future incidents of that violence. VAWA will provide the essential tools and support for that work to continue and improve. It is an exciting day for all who long for a time when sexual violence is no more and a testament to what we can accomplish when we work together.