By Qudsia Jafree
For nearly 18 years, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has provided a national, streamlined response to address domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking.
Earlier this year, the House of Representatives passed the Adams-Cantor (H.R. 4970) version, which failed to include provisions that help immigrant, Native women and LGBT communities. The vote was 222-205, with 23 Republicans voting against the bill and 6 Democrats voting for the bill. The YWCA opposed H.R. 4970.
VAWA is expired as of last year and still awaiting reauthorization. Currently, Congress continues to be in gridlock and has not moved forward on reauthorizing this important bill. Those in need cannot wait much longer. Nearly 2,600 women have been murdered as a result of domestic violence and sexual assault since VAWA expired.
The YWCA is deeply invested in the health and safety of all women. We serve over half a million women each year through anti-violence programs, providing much needed access for victims of violence through 24-hour crisis hotlines, emergency shelters and transitional housing, counseling services, legal assistance, affordable child care services, and financial empowerment programs. (Find out what services are provided by your local YWCA here.) The YWCA strongly supports the immediate passage of VAWA (S.1925) and its protections for native women, immigrants, and members of the LGBT community. Should VAWA not be reauthorized in the next 52 days, those communities are most at risk of being excluded in future bills. We cannot let this happen!
The more buzz we generate, the more likely Congress will take steps to get VAWA done. There is a small window to act during the lame duck period before the newly-elected Congress convenes – if Congress fails to reauthorize VAWA during this period, we will have to start fresh with the 113th Congress. The next 52 days are absolutely critical for VAWA reauthorization.
Our Members of Congress NEED to hear from us – the more they hear about how VAWA has helped save the lives of millions of women and families.
Today is the second day of the lame duck session in Congress. Here’s how you can take action:
- See how your Member of Congress voted here.
- Find your Member of Congress and her/his phone number here.
- Blog about your support for VAWA reauthorization and send it to communications@YWCA.org or to @YWCAUSA on Twitter so we can share it with our networks.
- Send Tweets to your Member of Congress (find their Twitter handle here) using these sample Tweets:
- @[ Member of Congress twitter handle], we need you to do your job and #PassVAWA2012 now. Victims of violence depend on it. #realVAWA #YWCA
- @[ Member of Congress twitter handle], the #YWCA supports over 500k women each year. Support these women – pass #realVAWA now! #passVAWA2012
- @[insert Member of Congress twitter handle], the #YWCA uses VAWA $ to take thousands of hotline calls each year. Support your constituents – pass #realVAWA now!
- @[insert Member of Congress twitter handle], don’t let #VAWA die! Millions of womens lives depend on it. Reauthorize VAWA now! #YWCA #realVAWA
- Join the #PassVAWA2012 Facebook Photo Campaign – take a photo of yourself and your friends and family holding signs that say: #PassVAWA2012! Email your photos to email@example.com or post them to Twitter with the hashtag #PassVAWA2012.
- Download the National Task Force to end Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women toolkit for more ways to get active today and every day and help get VAWA reauthorized.
We hope you’ll join us on this National Day of Action so that the millions of women and families who need these protections will not be left out.