Will the Violence Against Women Act Pass the Senate?

Monday, February 04, 2013

In the midst of the fiscal cliff negotiations over the new year, Congress allowed the Violence Against Women Act to expire. Originally passed in 1994, the act has provided $4.7 billion to train police, prosecutors, physicians, and many others on how to handle cases concerning domestic and sexual violence, as well as stalking and related issues.

Senator Patrick Leahy emphasized the act's importance in last week’s judiciary hearings on gun violence. He plans to reintroduce the Violence Against Women Act, he said, "because of concern for domestic violence victims. We have statistics that show women in this country killed at alarming rates by domestic abusers with guns." Senator Leahy has the 60 votes necessary to secure passage in the Senate, but because of resistance from House Republicans it is unclear how the legislation would fare in the House. 

Takeaway Washington correspondent Todd Zwillich explains that there are disagreements in two key areas: How to handle undocumented women, and how to handle gays, lesbians, and transgender people. "Democrats say just because you're undocumented doesn't mean you have any less rights in terms of being defended against domestic violence."

The core principles of the Violence Against Women Act have wide support in Congress, but, as Todd Zwillich points out, "Some of the factions on these issues on both sides are using the Violence Agains Women Act…to get their way on broader issues."


Todd Zwillich

Comments [2]

JGW from Yonkers

In the early 80's I called in the police because an upstairs neighbor was being assaulted by her boyfriend. Their dismissive response shocked me. Now we have VAWA, established to provide funds to train police and others on how to handle these situations appropriately. Domestic/sexual violence victims still face bias and discrimination when navigating the criminal justice system, but VAWA has been a huge help in bridging the gap. The UN says that one in three women in the world today will be beaten or raped during their lifetimes - that's millions in the US alone. We have a lot of work to do, and the Violence against Women Act is as important as ever.

Feb. 04 2013 08:10 PM
dlmc from Brooklyn

As a female retired police officer I find this bill detestable. The law should treat everyone as equals. Plenty of women kill their husbands and/or children. They do not deserve special victim status. If you physically assault another you should be arrested and your victim helped regardless of the sex/religion/color of either party. Laws like this imply male victims are not equal or as deserving of help as female victims.

Feb. 04 2013 11:48 AM

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