Monday, March 5, 2012

Support the Violence Against Women Act

From our friends at WIT.
Thanks to YOUR advocacy efforts, we now have 56 sponsors for the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) or S. 1925.

Because we are SURE that we'll get 60 votes in the weeks ahead, we now need to ask Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to schedule a Senate floor vote SOON. We know that we have the votes, and we need to move this bipartisan bill before the rancor of election year politics ties up both Houses of Congress!

Call Senator Reid's DC office (202-224-3542) with this message:

"We need Senator Reid to continue to be our champion for the whole country. Please sponsor the Violence Against Women Act and schedule S. 1925 for a floor vote as soon as possible."

And remember to thank PA's own Sen. Casey for co-sponsoring the bill and standing up for survivors!

Why this VAWA? Why now?
The simple answer is that there's a LOT at stake. But, let's back up for a moment and look at the history of this groundbreaking bill. The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), enacted in 1994, was the first piece of American legislation that recognized the pervasive nature of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. It supported comprehensive, effective and cost-saving responses to these crimes. VAWA programs, administered by the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services, give law enforcement, prosecutors and judges the tools they need to hold offenders accountable and keep communities safe, while supporting survivors and recognizing their role in the fight to end gender-based violence.

First, we want VAWA to be reauthorized to ensure the continuation of these vital, life-saving programs and laws.

Second, we want to not only continue the work of VAWA, but also expand and improve it! Over two years ago, more than 2,000 advocates responded to surveys and national conference calls to name the most pressing issues facing victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Local programs, like WIT, along with state and federal grant administrators and national resource centers weighed in about the needs of survivors, whether there were barriers to implementing these needs and whether other changes would improve the effectiveness of the bill.

Twenty-two issue committees were convened to work through the responses and prioritize the most important issues for victims from all walks of life including:
Lack of services available to LGBTQ survivors of violence
Barriers to services for undocumented survivors; and
Continuing high levels of violence against Native American and Native Alaskan women.

After gathering this information in 2009 and 2010, advocates began consulting with members of Congress and the Administration about the problems and issues to be addressed. In the Senate, legislation was drafted in consultation with the federal agencies charged with implementing its provisions.

The resulting legislation, S.1925, is built upon the past successes of VAWA, while decreasing the total amount of federal funding by 20%, eliminating 13 programs and streamlining another ten programs into three. For more info, or to learn about how to advocate for S.1925's passage, visit 4vawa.org.

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