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20 years ago today, the Violence Against Women Act was signed into law. VAWA is landmark legislation that has made a difference in the lives of countless women.
Recently we have read about too many incidents of horrific violence perpetrated by sports stars and celebrities on wives and girlfriends -- the images are truly sickening. But these are very public examples of something that happens every day in homes across America.
VAWA has done a lot to address the crime of domestic violence, but there are still about 1.3 million women in America who are assaulted by an intimate partner every year. That’s why VAWA is still so important. It funds the investigation and prosecution of these crimes, legal aid and service for victims, rape crisis centers and hotlines, and so much more.
Last year Congress finally reauthorized VAWA. It took an 18-month struggle to strip out unacceptable provisions that would have discriminated against survivors on the basis of sexual orientation, ethnicity, and immigration status. In the end we prevailed, and VAWA was reauthorized with a bipartisan vote.
As we celebrate this important anniversary, let’s recommit to standing up and speaking out against all forms of domestic violence in our society.