U.S. President Barack Obama signed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) bill into law today.
VAWA 2013 is an expanded version of what was first signed into law in 1994 by President Bill Clinton and reauthorized in 2000 and 2005. It includes LGBT rights to prevent sexual violence, jurisdiction for Native Americans to prosecute non-native culprits of sexual violence against women, jurisdiction for immigrants to prosecute abuse from citizens, SAFER Act and Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act.
Happening a day before the International Women’s Day, the renewal of the bill which expired in September 2011 had initially been opposed by the Republican House, citing the lack of safeguards in the bill to ensure domestic violence grants are properly spent and the coverage of same-sex couples as reasons for not supporting it.
With intense actions from human rights groups and advocates around the world, the reauthorization of the bill finally got the needed approval.
Speaking during the signing ceremony, Vice President Biden, the original drafter of the bill, said, ”Because of the people in this room, every time we reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act, we improved it...every single time.”
President Obama commended the bipartisan effort towards the reauthorization of the bill, lauded the role played by Vice President Biden, and explained some of the improvements on the bill:
”One of the great legacies of this law is that it didn’t just change the rules; it changed our culture...
This is a country where everyone should be able to pursue their happiness no matter who you are, no matter who you love...
Today is about the women who come to Rosie Hidalgo looking for support – immigrants who are victims of domestic abuse..”