On Thursday, February 28, 2013, Congress acted in a bipartisan on the behalf of women. The House vote of 286 – 138, coupled with the Senate’s passing of the “Violence Against Women Act” (VAWA) of the 112th Congress in 2012, progressed the law and readied it for President Obama’s for signature. The last VAWA expired in 2011. When the former law was passed in 1994, the foundational law helped the country to recognize the devastation of domestic violence. The law supported the change of perspective among police officers in how they treated domestic abuse, from a private family matter to a serious offense. Additionally, mandatory arrest policies and grant funding for research was also implemented because of the law. The 2013 version of VAWA extends the work of its predecessor.
Many women advocacy groups believe the newly passed VAWA bill will strengthen the protections of specific women sub-groups who are at extreme risk for domestic violence. They credit the former bill for saving thousands of lives over the past two decades. According the U.S. Bureau of Justice (2013), since 1993, intimate partner violence has decreased 64%. Still, approximately 80% of intimate partner victims of violence are female, with women ages 18 – 24 and 25 – 34 being most at risk. More work needs to be done, especially in single mother households where young females have ten times the risk of intimate partner violence when compared to households with married adults with children. The actions in this bill will work to build on gains made in the past, while targeting efforts at those most at risk. The bill may not end all violence against women, but it does build on gains made by subsequent legislation while also modernize efforts to confront the scourge of domestic violence.
– Larrell L. Wilkinson