In a bi-partisan vote, the US Senate on Tuesday (12 February) renewed the Violence Against Women Act which had expired in 2011.
But the renewal of the two-decade-old act was more inclusive this time around: it comes with assurances that gays and lesbians, Native American women and immigrants will have equal access to the act’s anti-domestic violence programs.
Senators voted 78-22 to renew the act which has been credited with helping reduce the rates of domestic violence against women in the US.
President Barack Obama praised the senate vote and said in a statement: ‘The bill passed by the Senate will help reduce homicides that occur from domestic violence, improve the criminal justice response to rape and sexual assault, address the high rates of dating violence experienced by young women, and provide justice to the most vulnerable among us.’
Leaders in the Republican-c0ntrolled House of Representative are working on their own version of the act.
The two bodies both passed renewal bills last year but the act expired because they were unable to reach a compromise between their two bills.
Patty Murray, a senator from the state of Washington said of that next crucial step: ‘Over 160 million women across the country are watching and waiting to see if the House will act on this bill and finally provide them the protections from violence they deserve.’