President Obama will sign the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) into law today. The ceremony will take place at Interior Department.
After over 500 days without congressional reauthorization, the House approved an inclusive, bipartisan VAWA as passed by the Senate on February 28. The reauthorization includes expanded protections for students, LGBT individuals, immigrants, and Native Americans. Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority, said "The House passed by a wide margin (286-138) the strong, bipartisan Senate version of VAWA which was supported by the Feminist Majority and scores of women's rights, civil rights, labor, and domestic violence and sexual assault groups and organizations. ... Women's groups and their allies acted as one and created a massive grassroots lobbying campaign to pass a strong VAWA despite the Republican House leadership opposition. We cannot forget that 138 Republicans and no Democrats voted against final passage of the real VAWA. Nor can we forget those that voted to roll back full protections of VAWA for college students, immigrants, the LGBT community, and Native Americans as well as to weaken of the Office of Violence Against Women."
With VAWA just hours away from being signed into law, the Justice Department has released statistics that violence against women decreased by more than 60% from 1994, when VAWA was first enacted, to 2005. Figures remain unchanged since 2005. Smeal told reporters that this in large part is a result of VAWA and proves why it is necessary. Smeal said that now "everybody knows that rape and sexual assault are crimes and will be treated as such."
"We have a ways to go," she added. "It is clear there is still too much violence and too many are fearful to report it."
Media Resources: Associated Press 3/7/2013; USA Today 3/7/2013; Feminist Newswire 2/28/2013
12/11/2013 Human Rights Day Celebrated Around The World - Yesterday marked International Human Rights Day, a day to celebrate human rights advances and to assess the challenges that lie ahead in protecting them.
"The fundamentals for protecting and promoting human rights are largely in place: these include a strong and growing body of international human rights law and standards, as well as institutions to interpret the laws, monitor compliance and apply them to new and emerging human rights issues," said United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay in a statement. . . .
12/11/2013 UConn Under Federal Investigation For Mishandling Sexual Assault Cases - The US Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) informed the University of Connecticut on Monday that it will investigate the school for allegedly mishandling sexual assault cases and violating Title IX, the federal law that requires all recipients of federal financial assistance for education programs and activities to prohibit sex discrimination and sexual harassment [PDF].
The investigation was sparked after seven women filed a formal complaint in October alleging that UConn had failed to protect them from sexual assault and exposed them to a sexually hostile environment.One woman says her attacker was expelled from campus but later readmitted without her knowledge. . . .
12/11/2013 Massachusetts Democrat Katherine Clark Wins Congressional Seat - Democrat Katherine Clark will become the fifth woman to represent Massachusetts in the US House Tuesday, after easily defeating three opponents in a special election.
"Six years ago, there wasn't a single woman representing Massachusetts in Congress," said Niki Tsongas, the only other woman representing Massachusetts in the House. . . .