Eighteen is a special number in the Jewish tradition. It is associated with chai, with life. Today marks the 18th anniversary—the chai anniversary—of the Violence Against Women Act, a piece of legislation that has made a difference in thousands of women’s lives by bolstering prosecution of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse offenders; increasing victim services; increasing resources for law enforcement; and creating a National Domestic Violence Hotline. VAWA was set to be reauthorized and re-strengthened in 2011, but—like many important pieces of legislation—has been stalled by political gridlock and inaction.
The House and Senate each passed a version of VAWA earlier this year; however, these two drafts were markedly different. The Senate’s version contained provisions that would close loopholes and increase protection for LGBT individuals, tribal women and immigrants—three populations that most desperately need these services. The House’s version did not include these important stipulations, and a conference committee to reconcile the two pieces of legislation has yet to be announced. On this 18th anniversary, let us renew our commitment to life—to the lives of battered women across the country, and to the lives of those who have been engaged in this fight for many years.
Tell your members of Congress that you want they must move forward with a strong VAWA bill that protects all victims.