U.S. Senate Passes NAACP-Supported Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Reauthorization

NOW WE MUST URGE THE U.S. HOUSE TO SWIFTLY PASS THE REAUTHORIZATION TO ENSURE THE CONTINUATION OF VITAL, LIFESAVING PROGRAMS AND PROTECTIONS.

On Tuesday, February 12, 2013, the United States Senate passed S. 47, a bipartisan bill to update and improve the NAACP-supported Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).  The bill passed overwhelmingly, by a margin of 78 yeas to 22 nays.  S. 47 seeks to improve criminal justice and community-based responses to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking in the United States.

Since it was first enacted, with strong NAACP support, in 1994, VAWA has helped thousands of survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault across our country, and has helped to reduce annual rates of domestic violence. Sadly, there is still work to be done:  3 women a day are still killed as a result of domestic violence and 1 in 5 have been raped.  These continued protections are especially important for women of color, who experience the highest rates of domestic violence and sexual assault.  In a recent study, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 37% of Hispanic women are victims; 43% of African-American women and 38% of African-American men are victims; and a staggering 46% of American Indian or Alaska Native women and 45% of American Indian or Alaska Native men experience intimate-partner victimization.

S. 47 is almost identical to a bill which passed the U.S. Senate in 2012. The National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women, which works closely with the NAACP and shares many of our concerns, has also worked closely with the bill’s sponsors to ensure that that the bill will not only continue proven effective programs, but that it will make key changes to streamline VAWA and make sure that even more people have access to safety, stability and justice.  Last year, the U.S. House passed a much weaker version of VAWA which does not include protections to Native Americans, homosexuals, undocumented immigrants, and does not offer the same protections to students as the Senate bill.  While the NAACP and almost every other civil rights, human rights, and women’s rights advocacy organizations supported the Senate version of the bill, the House and Senate were not able to come up with a final version of the legislation and thus both bills died at the end of the 112th Congress.  With the advent of the 113th Congress, on January 3, 2013, we must start the process all over again.

THE NAACP APPLAUDS THE U.S. SENATE FOR PASSING A COMPREHENSIVE REAUTHORIZATION OF VAWA AND URGES THE U.S. HOUSE TO ACT SWIFTLY.

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