Violence Against Women Act up for Renewal

With just days before the end of 2012, a bill important for those advocating ending domestic violence remains at a standstill on Capitol Hill. With the House and Senate dragging its feet to pass the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the ones who remain to lose are shelters and the women they serve. The bill dates back to a law signed in 1994 that aims to fight domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. That bill is now up for reauthorization - after bipartisan support in 2000 and 2005- and politicians have been going back and forth on potential amendments.

At the time the bill was originally passed, a woman was raped every six seconds in the United State and a female beaten every 15 seconds, according to a letter sent last week by House Democrats and Republicans to House Speaker Rep. John Boehner and Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (http://big.assets.huffingtonpost.com/letter.pdf). The 1994 law came as an important milestone to address issues of women's violence as it funded grant programs to assist women survivors as well as help law enforcement officers prosecute crime.

"The Violence Against Women Act has without question been successful. It has saved lives and helped millions of victims find safety, security and self-sufficiency," they wrote. "But even with all of the advancements that have been made, three women a day in this country are still killed by an intimate partner. Obviously there is much more work to be done."

The problem remains in two different versions of the bill. The House and Senate have respectively passed its own versions of an authorization act; however, while the House version of the bill is similar to the original law and aims to continue the funding process, the Senate version adds in several clauses that will help the LGBT community, as well as Native Americans. House Republicans say the Senate bill includes unnecessary divisive amendments while Senate Democrats says the House bill is too narrow.

At Reveal NYC, our aim isn't to become political or rally behind a certain type of theology. Instead, our goal is to celebrate women, show them how beautiful they truly are and encourage them towards a life of dignity and independence.

In a lame duck session, especially in a time of tremendous political gridlock in Washington, DC, it's easy to be overwhelmed or bitter at our political leaders. I think, however, that it's important to stay informed about ongoing issues. We hope that our leaders will come to a compromise that is best for the nation, especially for the women served, and our intent is that this funding issue gets solved immediately.

-Catherine Ngai, Reveal President