WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) praised Senate passage of a reauthorization the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), a long-standing law to stop violence against women and extend protections to other groups. Senator Cardin is a cosponsor of S. 47 and has cosponsored previous versions of the bill considered by the Senate. It was approved today by a vote of 78-22 and now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration. Click here to download video of Senator Cardin’s floor statement on the need to reauthorize VAWA. You also can view it here.
“Saving women’s lives should not be a partisan issue. The statistics of domestic violence are alarming, yet domestic violence remains one the most under-reported crimes in the country. These victims need to know that they have our support, including access to justice, help with housing, medical care, and economic opportunity,” Senator Cardin said.
“One in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner every year. In Maryland, in 2009, there were more than 18,500 reported cases of domestic abuse and 38 fatalities. This most recent reporting period has been the lowest number of domestic violence-related deaths on record for the state, but these numbers are still unacceptable.
“I am disappointed that last year the House refused to take up this legislation, and also refused to allow the conference committee to meet to work out the differences between the two bills. I urge my colleagues in the House to quickly take up the bill just passed by the Senate so that more women can be protected under the law. My hope is that the VAWA reauthorization can be signed into law by President Obama before the President’s Day recess.”
The Violence Against Women Act was passed by Congress and signed into law in 1994 by President Clinton. This law has a proud and bipartisan history. Congress passed this legislation in 1994 after growing awareness of crimes associated with domestic violence, including sexual assault and stalking cases. VAWA enhanced investigations and prosecutions of sex offenses, and created a number of new grant programs that included law enforcement, public and private entities, services providers, and victims of crime. Congress approved reauthorizations of VAWA that expanded its protections by bipartisan votes in 2000 and 2005.
Now, in 2013, the Senate is trying to improve on VAWA once again. The Senate-passed version of the law includes measures to ensure that victims are not denied services because they are gay or transgender. It protects Native Americans women from domestic violence and sexual assault, and includes non-discrimination protection for all victims, regardless of their race, color, religion, or gender. VAWA encourages collaboration among law enforcement, judicial personnel, and public and private service providers to victims of domestic and sexual violence. It also works to increase public awareness.