Don’t Let the Violence Against Women Act Expire

In a horrible irony, just as the #MeToo movement has taken hold and a sexual assaulter is confirmed to the highest court in the US, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is in danger of expiring.

VAWA came into law in September, 1994. Its intent was to expand the judicial tools used to combat violence against women and to provide protection to all women who had suffered sexual violence. Lawmakers realized that prosecuting sexual crimes took different resources than other types of cases.

So the law funded social service agencies such as rape crisis centers, shelters and programs offering legal aid; It was clear that women who had suffered sexual assault needed the support from these agencies to help them come forward.

VAWA is generally seen as an aftermath of Anita Hill’s testimony at Clarence Thomas’s confirmation hearings to be a Supreme Court judge. Hill testified that she had been sexually harassed by Thomas but the all-white male Senate Judiciary Committee refused to believe her and confirmed Thomas anyway.

Following this, the number of women running for and winning Congressional seats in 1992 was the highest in a decade, with 27 of them winning for the first time, enabling passage of VAWA.

The Act was reauthorized in 2000, 2005 and 2013, but was set to expire on September 30, 2018. It was extended when Trump signed a bill to avoid a government shutdown, and the bill included a temporary extension of VAWA until December 7.

In the current movement of #MeToo and the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, it is becoming more and more clear that way too many women have been victims of sexual harassment or sexual assault, and that there is a pressing need to devote more funds to help victims of sexual violence come forward, not to eliminate those funds.

As Katherine Baker, professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law, explained to the Chicago Tribune, sexual assault and domestic violence crimes “are difficult to prosecute.”

“‘Victims are traumatized in different ways that usually require social workers (and other professionals),’ she added. ‘We need to help women if they are going to tell their stories.’

‘It’s a brutal, brutal process to be a victim of a sexual assault or a victim of domestic violence…and to have to talk about it in a courtroom. These are very difficult proceedings for women to go through,’ Baker continued. ‘To be successful, you need a social service infrastructure.’”

So if VAWA is allowed to expire, there will be no more funding for all those social services that make it easier for women to report sexual assault.

Beyond that, if the Act is not extended, Congress will be sending the very clear message that they don’t care at all about preventing violence against women. This is, in fact, precisely what the Kavanaugh confirmation has told us, loud and clear.

Congress has definitely not acted in the best interests of women recently. If you agree, please sign my petition, urging your representatives to act for women by not letting the Violence Against Women Act expire.

121 comments

Amanda M
Amanda M1 months ago

Petition signed with a vengeance! Women are people too! Our voices deserve to be heard and our rights DEFINITELY deserve to be upheld!

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Sabrina Degasperi
Sabrina D1 months ago

I signed the petition in October, the 8th.

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Paulo R
Paulo R2 months ago

signed. ty

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Elisabeth T
Elisabeth T2 months ago

Thank you

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Georgina Elizab M
Georgina Elizab M2 months ago

tyfs

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Mike R
Mike R2 months ago

Signed. Thanks

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Susanne R
Susanne R2 months ago

My apologies, Brian. My previous comment was meant for Paul B.

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michela c
michela c2 months ago

Thanks

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Susanne R
Susanne R2 months ago

Brian F. - If you're going to quote someone, at least include the entire quote and in the proper context. You made it sound as though she was making a threat, when she was simply stating a fact. And you condemn errors of omission...

"In a shocking affirmation of Democratic activists' anti-Brett Kavanaugh strategy, Hillary Clinton told CNN's Christine Amanpour in an interview that it is impossible to "be civil" with the Republican Party, and peace will only return to the political process when Democrats regain control of the House and Senate.

"You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about," Clinton told the CNN anchor.

"That's why I believe, if we are fortunate enough to win back the House and or the Senate, that's when civility can start again. But until then, the only thing that the Republicans seem to recognize and respect is strength." she continued."

Isn't the truth refreshing? Hell, isn't intelligence refreshing?

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Carole R
Carole R2 months ago

Signed and supported.

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