(WOMENSENEWS)— Women’s safety activists are calling on the 113th
Congress—which convened Jan. 3 --to pass the Violence Against Women Act as its first order of business.
CEO of the Ms. Foundation, Anika Rahman, released a statement on Jan. 3 saying:
“The 112th Congress has disgraced itself by allowing VAWA to expire, thus removing protections for survivors of domestic and sexual abuse.
Last week, the National Task Force to End Violence Against Women released a statement saying that although programs and services will not close, “they are certainly threatened” until the bill is passed. “There is no time to waste in addressing the needs of victims.”
On Jan. 4, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told CNN, "It is an early priority for us," "Since it passed the Senate last time, with two more Democrats in the Senate, we hope that it will have an easy path there and a doable path there -- and a successful one in the House."
In December, the GOP-dominated 112th Congress failed to reauthorize the Violence
Against Women Act for the first time since the act’s inception in 1994.
Three new provisions in the act were branded by Republicans as seeming to “invite opposition.” The new additions include protection of Native American Women in rural areas, LGBTQ individuals, and measures to protect immigrant women.
Some Republicans have expressed general opposition to the law.
The Huffington Post referred to comments made by Janice Shaw Crouse, of Concerned Women for America, who, in March 2012, labeled the bill “a boondoggle” that “creates an ideology that all men are guilty and all women are victims.” The same article also quoted conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly as arguing that the bill promoted “divorce” and the “breakup of marriage.”
VAWA is a funding cornerstone for numerous organizations that provide support programs and training for victims and those that encounter incidences covered by the bill. Jean Metz is director of Providence House, a shelter in Trenton, N.J., that provides accommodation to victims of domestic violence and depends upon grants provided for them by VAWA.
“It’s a real tragedy that our U.S. Congress, after having this act for 18 years and always being able to reauthorize it without any problems, has failed to act,” she told Phllyburbs.com:
Victoria is a freelance writer in New York City.
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