Reauthorization of Violence Against Women Act

Full story in Philadelphia Tribune

As lawmakers in Washington try to hammer out a budget agreement and avoid a fiscal crisis, another issue is also on the table during the lame duck session of Congress — the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act or VAWA.

In April, a version of VAWA was approved by the Senate by a vote of 68 to 31, despite some Republican opposition to certain provisions of the bill. But the battle over VAWA’s reauthorization has now moved to the House of Representatives and supporters of VAWA are concerned that, with a little more than two weeks left, the law may be allowed to expire.

The United States has made tremendous progress on violence against women and girls domestically since the passage of VAWA in 1994,” said Valerie Jarrett, a senior advisor to President Barack Obama when the measure passed the Senate. “Since the passage of the Act, annual rates of domestic violence have dropped by more than 60 percent. The Violence Against Women Act, something that should be above politics, is mired in just that on the Hill. The Senate passed a strong bipartisan bill three months ago. The House should take up the Senate bill so we can get this important bill to the president’s desk. Women should not have to wait a day longer.  As the vice president has said, Congress should act now to protect women.”

In Philadelphia, a recent report was released detailing the scope of violence against women in the city. Titled Violence Against Women in Philadelphia — A Report to the City, the study indicated that the Philadelphia Police Department handled 145,904 calls that were related to domestic violence in 2011. The number of arrests increased from 4,927 to 6,256 between 2009 and 2011.

“The Philadelphia Police Department should continue its positive and constructive relationship with the city’s domestic violence and rape crisis agencies,” the report said. “Philadelphia is one of the few, if not the sole city in which victim advocates are allowed to review every rape case. And the department involves local domestic violence agencies in efforts to improve all services to victims with the goal of reducing violence against women.”