Almost six months ago, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the historic bipartisan Violence Against Women (VAWA) Reauthorization Act. Since then, the U.S. Senate has stalled on moving this crucial legislation forward, which is unacceptable. Colorado families and survivors deserve more than inaction by leadership when it comes to protecting their right to live in safe communities.
This week marks the 25th year anniversary of the first passage of VAWA. Historically, VAWA has always been reauthorized with strong bipartisan support and strengthened protections for survivors. The time for the Senate to act is past due. VAWA is key to preventing violence and helping victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking. 1 in 5 women has been raped in her lifetime – it’s time for the Senate to step up, invest in violence prevention, and help victims and survivors.
The legislation passed in April in the House offers protections without discrimination. Nearly 1 in 4 trans, genderqueer, or gender non-conforming students experience sexual violence during their four years of undergraduate education. Reauthorizing VAWA is one action that supports survivors’ voices and provides a pathway to justice and healing. VAWA will also ensure tribes have the power to prosecute non-Native sexual predators who prey on Native women.
This legislation provides law enforcement with new tools to protect their communities; offers protections for survivors in federal public, subsidized, and assisted housing; supports victims and survivors who need assistance rebuilding financially; addresses the needs of underserved communities; and improves the healthcare responses. It is imperative that the U.S. Senate take action by voting in support of the current version of VAWA.
As we reflect over the past 25 years and all that communities and advocates have learned about the best ways to prevent and respond to gender-based violence, we demand the U.S. Senate work together to keep the work of the House of Representatives intact and pass a resolute VAWA for all.
Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CCASA) Board of Directors
CCASA provides leadership, advocacy, and support to address and prevent sexual violence.