I had some blogger’s drama this morning, and I was full of woe-is-me and dang-it-Mercury-Retrograde, because I had my head down into my own words in a long, drawn out post–and then the Internet ate it. So then I sent a barrage of crazy lady emails and whined on Twitter and logged in and out and pushed all sorts of buttons, just hoping my work would reappear. Basically a wasted morning.
And then I took a break. Ate lunch. Checked the news.
Score! The Violence Against Women Act was finally reauthorized. Perspective on my minor discomforts, to say the least.
The best detail within that grand, good news is that the full protections for LGBT victims and Native communities that a substitute bill threatened to take out were restored, too.
Under the current law, funding will continue for shelters and programs that prosecute perpetrators of domestic violence and sexual assault. New additions to the bill address stalking, spyware, and video surveillance. The bill specifically ensures that LGBT, Native American, and immigrant victims can access services and protections, including grants and legal aid.
The bill also gives greater jurisdiction to tribal courts to prosecute sexual offenders who aren’t Native Americans, but commit crimes against Native Americans or on the reservation. Rape on reservations is very high; 34% of American Indian and Alaska Native women will be raped in their lifetimes.
The reauthorization of VAWA, which had expired in 2011, means so much to our country. I didn’t want my sons and their generation to not have VAWA strengthening rape crisis programs, sexual assault awareness campaigns and prosecution programs. My generation needs them, my parents’ generation needs them, our young people need them. I didn’t want my community, or yours, to be without a reliable shelter systems or safety hotlines. I know firsthand that shelter and rape crisis programs train countless volunteers and counselors that end up benefitting so many social service and education programs with their knowledge, one of the hidden services and long-tail effects made possible by VAWA.
How to celebrate? Thanking legislators comes to mind, including VAWA’s author and protector, Vice President Joe Biden. Thanking your local domestic violence program and rape crisis program, maybe with a donation or a new volunteer commitment. Speak out, or support those who do, at Violence UnSilenced, where I sit on the Board of Directors.
Another way to celebrate might be to pore into the great documentary released by PBS this week. Makers: Women Who Make America presents a stunning history of the women’s rights movement in America, featuring dynamic interviews with amazing women. In part of the film, tribute was paid to the major role domestic violence and rape crisis advocates have played in advancing freedom and justice for women and raising the quality of life for all of us. Susan Brownmiller, whose book Against Her Will: Men, Women and Rape was a groundbreaking understanding of the personal, legal and political effects of rape crisis and Lt. Mark Wynn were among those featured.
Or champagne. We could all use a little champagne on this one. It’s been a long haul, and the reauthorization of VAWA is a major victory for binders and binders full of women. Cheers!
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