Sunday, November 2, 2008

Women for Obama/Biden

I wanted to take a minute out of my day and express my gratitude towards Sen. Joe Biden.

Senator Biden wrote the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in the 1990s that set the national agenda on criminalizing violence against women and holding batterers truly accountable. With the help of outspoken advocates across the country, including the Family Violence Prevention Fund (FVPF) and other members of the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was finally signed into law in August of 1994 as a part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.

The authorization for the original VAWA provisions expired in 2000, the Congress took up the reauthorization of this landmark legislation in 1999 and completed its efforts in the fall of 2000 with the passage of the Violence Against Women Act of 2000.

As of the early 1990's many communities lacked domestic violence shelters and those that did have them couldn't fund them adequately. Law enforcement as well as the judicial system were unprepared to deal with the nature of such crimes. If a woman who’d been battered or raped went to the police, she was frequently lucky if she got sympathy--let alone experts trained in how to handle such cases, go after perpetrators, and counsel the victims.

“At that time there were no victim rights and [somebody] had to witness an act of violence in order to prosecute it,” says Judy Ellis, now executive director of First Step, a domestic violence program based in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan.

The Violence Against Women Act of 2005 was signed into law in January 2006. The bill authorizes $3.9 billion to support the program, including major enhancements, for the next five years. However, this bill does not actually provide the funding: it is just the first step, setting an upper spending limit. For each of the 5 years of the bill, Congress will need to pass legislation appropriating the specific amount of funds that the government will provide for each of the VAWA programs. There is no guarantee that Congress will appropriate the $3.9 billion that was authorized, or even the minimum amount that is needed. The war in Iraq, budget cuts, and other major expenses have resulted in less money for human services programs such as VAWA.(National Research Center for Women & Families)

Biden is also the co-author of a bill currently in committee called the International Violence Against Women Act, which is backed by major non-governmental organizations such as Amnesty International , Women Thrive Worldwide, and the Family Violence Prevention Fund.... along with many more. I-VAWA aims to directs US aid in ways that specifically help end gender-based violence. This can range from educational programs to health aid to special training for peacekeeping forces.

If you have the time, browse the Amnesty International website.

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