Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Vote for VAWA Now!

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) -- landmark legislation that provides life-saving hotlines, shelters, services and laws to protect victims of sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking, will expire September 30 unless Congress acts soon.

First passed in 1994, and reauthorized and expanded in 2000, VAWA has marked a turning point in our nation's response to these crimes. Because of VAWA, a broad range of services now exist to provide much-needed aid to victims who must cope with the aftermath of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, rape, incest and stalking. Although we have made advances in public attention to this issue and improved services to victims since VAWA's passage a decade ago, much still remains to be done to combat and prevent intimate, family and sexual violence. As we look to the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, Congress has a unique opportunity not only to continue successful and vital programs, but also to expand them to further the safety and stability of our families and communities.

If approved, the Violence Against Women Act of 2005 (S.1197, HR 2876) will allow almost one billion dollars of federal funding per year for the next five years for programs to help end domestic and dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. It includes provisions to train police, prosecutors, and judges to better serve victims and to hold offenders accountable, and will teach medical professionals how to recognize signs of abuse and how to respond. It will support the National Domestic Violence Hotline and the National Stalker Database, and will make cyber-stalking a crime under the Federal Communications Act. It contains provisions to ensure that underserved communities and populations – the rural, elderly, disabled, immigrant, communities of color and tribal nations – all of which experience violence at higher rates - get the funding they need to operate lifesaving programs. It will provide new laws that prohibit workplace and housing discrimination against victims of violence, since in many states landlords deny housing and employers fire employees who are victims because of the “disruption” it causes. It will provide transitional and affordable housing solutions so that when victims leave the shelter, they have someplace to go other than the streets or back to their abusers. And for the first time, VAWA will provide services for children who witness domestic violence, for teens and young adults who are at the highest risk of violence, and for programs aimed at prevention so that our children can grow up safe.

Click the link above to send a free message to your legislators urging them to support this vital legislation today!

***Information in this post is provided by Stop Family Violence.