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The Violence Against Women Act is a federal law that will provide investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women, impose automatic and mandatory restitution on those convicted, and allow civil redress in cases prosecutors chose to leave unprosecuted–that is, when it is finally passed.

Gabrielle Union:Unfortunately, the most impactful moment for women in the last time years, to me was the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Unfortunately, we’re stalling right now, and the fact that our GOP-led Congress is not reauthorizing VAWA is criminal. It’s all fun and games until it happens to your momma, your sister, your wife, your daughter. To have such bipartisan support for VAWA in the last 10 years and haven’t reauthorized, the highest moment meets the lowest. Sexual assault doesn’t know party lines. Nobody cares. So hopefully, our brightest moment will be the galvanizing moment to reauthorize VAWA.”

Since its inception in 1994, the VAWA has been through ups and downs on the road to being passed. While the Congress and the Senate voted it through, the federal court rejected it. The act was then reauthorized twice–once in 2000 and again in 2005. In 2011, the law expired. By 2012, the Senate voted to reauthorize the act, but the House wanted to it its own thing by omitting provisions of the Senate’s bill that would protect gay men, lesbians, American Indians living in reservations and unauthorized immigrants who were victims of domestic violence. So now there are two bills–on House and one Senate–and the authorization of those are still unclear. As of now, The Senate passed an extension of the VAWA. We’re getting closer, but like Gabrielle said, we’re stalling.

These are the programs and services the law provides:

  • Federal rape shield law
  • Community violence prevention programs
  • Protections for female victims who are evicted from their homes because of events related to domestic violence or stalking
  • Funding for victim assistance services, like rape crisis centers and hotlines
  • Programs to meet the needs of immigrant women and women of different races or ethnicities
  • Programs and services for female victims with disabilities
  • Legal aid for female survivors of violence

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#OurMoments: Gabrielle Union On The Impact Of The Violence Against Women Act  was originally published on