Current Editorial: VAWA deserves to be law of the land

Current Staff

US without VAWA would be a more dangerous place for women

It is unfortunate that nearly all of us know someone who has been affected by a violent crime.
In 1994, the Violence Against Women Act was passed into law with the help of then Sen. Joe Biden. Last December, the VAWA expired for the third time since being initially passed. On Feb. 12, 2013, the U.S. Senate passed to reauthorize the VAWA by a vote of 78-22. This law helped establish the National Domestic Abuse Hotline, made stalking illegal on a federal level, and upheld that rape by your partner is equal to rape by a stranger.
According to the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women, reporting of domestic violence has increased by 51 percent. All states have passed laws making stalking a crime and have strengthened rape laws. A 2010 study showed an increased number of legal services that are available being associated with a decrease in number of partner homicides. So why would anyone be against it?
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R – FL) voted against the act, stating in a statement on his website, “I could not support the final, entire legislation that contains new provisions… Specifically, this bill would mandate the diversion of a portion of funding from domestic violence programs to sexual assault programs.” What Rubio didn’t say is that the provisions include students, undocumented women, LGBT, and Native American women.
What makes women any less important than men when they are the victims? One in four college women reported surviving rape, and one in five women have been raped at some point in their life. Forty-five percent of LGBT was turned away when they sought out help from a domestic violence shelter. Furthermore, Native American women are stalked, battered, and raped at far greater rates than any other population of U.S. women. Thirty-four percent of Native American women will be raped in their lifetime.
No one person deserves to be treated in such a manner. Even a few U.S. senators who voted against the act in 2005 agreed by voting for it this time around. This includes GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), Johnny Isakson (Ga.), Jerry Moran (Kan.), Richard Shelby (Ala.), Pat Toomey (Pa.), Roger Wicker (Miss.) and Thad Cochran (Miss.).
On Feb. 13, the House of Representatives passed the bill, with the provisions protecting LGBT and immigrant women. The Current strongly believes that an America without the VAWA will be a more dangerous place for women. We are disappointed that the cost of passing this bill disenfranchises LGBT and immigrant women, two groups that are high at risk in today’s America.