VAWA 2012 Passes Out of Committee,
NOW Continues 20-Year Commitment to Landmark Bill
February 7, 2012
NOW was an early proponent of the first Violence Against Women Act, holding a rally on Capitol Hill in 1995 that brought together tens of thousands of activists to demand full funding for the bill. The act must be reauthorized every five years, so 20 years later feminists are still rallying for VAWA.
Last Wednesday, NOW President Terry O'Neill spent the day calling senators who had formerly been sponsors of VAWA but were missing from this year's bill (S. 1925). By the end of last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to move the bill forward. Sadly, every Republican on the committee, including former sponsors Sen. Chuck Grassley (Iowa) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah), found some excuse to oppose the bill, even suggesting that VAWA be pushed back to 1995 funding and program levels. The good news is that the bill now has 38 co-sponsors in the full Senate, including five Republicans. But we must keep working: 22 more senators are needed to join as co-sponsors in order to assure passage by the full Senate.
NOW's trademark grassroots activism was essential to the bill's committee passage and a gain of seven new sponsors. However, feminists find it disheartening that former VAWA champions are promoting cutting funds and limiting or eliminating groups who desperately need services.
"We refuse to take a step backward on the path to ending violence against women," said O'Neill. "That means it's time to roll up our sleeves."
NOW is a leader in the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence. The task force issues regular alerts and updates about VAWA, and its website has the latest target list, fact sheets and talking points for action. Please visit www.4vawa.org to determine if your senators are co-sponsors; if not, please call them ASAP and urge them to sign on. The floor vote will take place soon. Advocates can also take action through NOW's website.
O'Neill adds: "As I was calling Senate offices, I thought about the many survivors of sexual assault and dating, domestic and stalking violence, as well as those who don't survive. We see these crimes in the headlines, whether it involves a high-profile coach and vulnerable youth, a father suspected of killing his wife who eventually kills himself and his children, or a transgender woman in D.C. being denied services. NOW is determined to stand up for those who are victimized, but we're going to need a big push in the months ahead to pass this bill and get it to the president for signing. I am counting on our supporters to be there for VAWA and NOW!
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