Originally published December 2, 2011
Just days after releasing The American Feminist, “Forward into Light: Exposing Violence. Protecting Women. Demanding Justice,” the U.S. Senate has reintroduced the Violence Against Women Act.
Once again, the Violence Against Women Act is a bipartisan bill that reaches across the abortion divide to protect women and prevent violence. Feminists for Life was the only pro-life member of the original coalition that supported the introduction of the Violence Against Women Act in 1994.
FFL President Serrin M. Foster was the only feminist to testify in favor of the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, a.k.a. Laci & Conner’s Law. She said, “When I read this legislation, I see my family, my friends, and yes, myself. VAWA addresses many aspects of the dark spectrum of violence.”
The new bill includes provisions:
• to prevent domestic violence homicides through the training of law enforcement, victim service providers, and court personnel on identifying and managing high risk offenders and connecting high risk victims to crisis intervention services;
• to increase focus on training for law enforcement and prosecutors and efforts to reduce rape kit backlogs;
• to improve public response to the high rate of violence against women in tribal communities by strengthening concurrent tribal criminal jurisdiction over perpetrators who assault Native American spouses and dating partners on reservations;
• to strengthen housing protections for victims by applying existing housing protections to nine additional federal housing programs; and
• to promote accountability to ensure that federal funds are used for their intended purposes while strengthening programs that have been most successful.
The 2011 bill includes cost-saving measures that reduce VAWA 2005 funding by $144 million, or 19 percent.
FFL speaker and rape survivor Joyce McCauley-Benner personally understands the urgency of this legislation: “This important legislation could make a dent in the problem. Violence against women is a social problem, and VAWA addresses systemic change. This legislation supports struggling community services and directly impacts how survivors are served. This bill helps women get the justice they deserve.”