In response to this week’s Senate passage of the Violence Against Women Act, Barbara Weinstein, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
Ten months ago, we commended the Senate for its bipartisan passage of the Violence Against Women Act that included better training of law enforcement, victim service providers, and court personnel; improved protections for women in tribal communities; stronger LBGT-inclusive provisions; and made it easier for immigrant victims of domestic violence to escape their abusing spouse or partner. Unfortunately, the House followed by passing a narrow bill and VAWA was not reauthorized. Today, we again welcome the Senate’s passage of this vital and broadly inclusive bill and again call on the House to follow suit.
Since its enactment in 1994, the Violence Against Women Act has proven effective in preventing, investigating, and prosecuting violent crimes targeting women. Improved reporting mechanisms and law enforcement procedures like those established in VAWA have been shown to decrease incidents of domestic violence – a trend that the reauthorization of VAWA in this Congress could further.
Maimonides reminded men of the imperative to treat women with honor and respect (Sefer Nashim 15:19) and many other Jewish sages recognized that violence comes in forms that are both physical and emotional. The Violence Against Women Act helps prevent and respond to such tragedies when they occur and is worthy of – and sorely overdue for – reauthorization. We thank the Senate for its continued support of women’s health and safety and urge the House to act swiftly to pass this bill and send it to the President for enactment. Above all, we look forward to VAWA’s reauthorization this year – and to not issuing a statement such as this one year from now.