president barack obama signed a law thursday expanding protections for victims of domestic violence, renewing a measure credited with curbing violence against women 18 months after it lapsed amid democrat & republican bickering.
the revitalized violence against women act marked an important win for gay rights advocates & indigneous people, who will see new protections under the law. obama said, "this is your day. this is the day of the advocates, the day of the survivors. this is your victory. this victory shows that when the american people make their voices heard, washington listens."
as obama prepared to put his pen to the newly expanded law, new government data underscored both the progress made & the need to do more. the rate of sexual violence against women & girls age 12 or older fell 64% in a decade & has remained stable for five years, the justice department said in a survey released thursday. in 2010, women & girls nationwide experienced about 270,000 rapes or sexual assaults, compared with 556,000 in 1995.
the survey also showed rapes & sexual assaults against women plateaued, as violent crime overall dropped. women's advocacy groups said the violence against women act & heightened awareness of the problem by the police has had a positive effect. obama said, "one of the great legacies of this is law is it didn't just change the rules, it changed our culture. it empowered people to start speaking out."
house speaker nancy pelosi, attorney general eric holder & members of the house & senate from both parties joined obama for the signing ceremony, along with vice president joe biden - who wrote & sponsored the original law in 1994. obama gave special thanks to republicans, including senator susan collins of maine, who supported the renewal despite heavy opposition from the gop.
the law strengthens the criminal justice system's response to crimes against women. the republican-controlled house rejected a senate-passed version affirming gay, lesbian & immigrants' rights to equal access to the law's programs. the senate bill also allowed tribal courts to prosecute non-indians who attack their indian partners on tribal lands, giving native american authorities the ability to go after crimes federal prosecutors, for lack of resources, often decline to pursue.
in february, house republicans capitulated & allowed a vote on an almost identical version of the bill, which passed 286-138. it was the third time in two months house speaker john boehner let a democratic-supported bill reach the floor despite opposition from a majority of his party; republicans wanted to put the issue behind them after losing the women's vote in the november elections.
the violence against women act models how to protect women, & some men, from domestic abuse & prosecute abusers. since its inception in 1994, it helped reduce domestic violence incidents by two-thirds. the renewal authorizes $659 million annually over five years to fund current programs providing grants for hotlines, law enforcement training, legal assistance & transitional housing.
additionally, the expanded violence against women act reauthorizes the traffic victims protection act, adds stalking to the list of crimes making immigrants eligible for protection & authorizes programs dealing with rape investigations & sexual assaults on college campuses.
- mark j. tuggle
- harlem, usa
- same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. email@example.com.