by Rachel L. West, MSW, LMSW
The Political Social Worker
For the first time in eighteen years the Violence Against Women Act was allowed to expire. While everyone was focusing on whether or not we would go over the fiscal cliff another important law was waiting to be reauthorized. Introduced by then-Senator Joe Bidden, VAWA was signed into law in 1994 by President Bill Clinton. It was the first federal law to recognize domestic violence as a crime and expanded services and protections to millions of women experiencing family violence.
Last spring, with support from both parties, the US Senate passed an updated version of the law that expanded services to the LGBT community, immigrants and Native Americans. House Republicans did not want to pass the revised bill and removed those groups from the House’s version. As a result VAWA, a bill that had twice before been reauthorized, has expired.
Supporters of VAWA promise to introduce the legislation when the 113th Congress goes into session. Until the law is reauthorized states will have few resources available when it comes to dealing with domestic violence.
Say Goodbye to the Violence Against Women Act, Katie J.M. Baker
Photo Credit: By Lawrence Jackson (Executive Office of the President of the United States) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons