In the United States on Capitol Hill, legislators are meeting over the reinstatement of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) which is up for reauthorization. Initially enacted in 1994, signed into law by then President Bill Clinton, the law is up for reauthorization with new (and arguably long overdue) provisions. VAWA supports comprehensive, effective and cost saving responses to all types of violence against women. VAWA is administered by the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services and gives law enforcement, prosecutors and judges the tools they need to hold offenders accountable and keep communities safe while supporting survivors of violence.

 

The latest version of the Violence Against Women Act reauthorisation bill would extend protections and programs to same-sex couples, tribal Native Americans and undocumented immigrants. With the new provisions, VAWA would extend the power of legally recognized Native American tribes “over all persons” in the special circumstance of domestic violence on reservations, allowing them to open and operate rape crisis centers with grant money from the measure. Every hour of every day an American Indian woman within the authority of a tribal court is the victim of sexual and physical abuse. For undocumented immigrants, visas would be extended to those who experience domestic violence if they meet all the requirements in the bill.

 

Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California explained, “This bill includes lesbians and gay men. The bill includes undocumented immigrants who are victims of domestic abuse. The bill gives Native American tribes authority to prosecute crimes. In my view these are improvements. Domestic violence is domestic violence.”

 

Despite some contention between the two parties it is clear that this bi-partisan issue, remains just that, and that the protection of the perceived inferior is paramount to politics.

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