US senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has pledged to push for reauthorisation of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which was allowed to lapse earlier this month.
Speaking at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington DC, the Democratic senator insisted: “The first legislation I plan to move in the new Congress is the Violence Against Women Act… House leaders refused to agree to protect some of the most vulnerable victims of domestic violence and rape. Like so many other worthy efforts, renewing VAWA suffered from obstructionism that has seeped too much into our legislative process.”
Originally signed into law in 1994 by President Bill Clinton, the Violence Against Women Act was a federal law providing funding for the investigation and prosecution of crime targeted at female victims. It also increased the legal redress open to victims.
The Act was renewed in 2000 and 2005, but a third renewal at the end of last year was opposed by some Republicans, who objected to the extension of the Act to same sex couples as well as illegal immigrants in some instances.
Leahy criticized Republican refusal to reauthorize the act, saying: “A victim is a victim is a victim. We should stop setting up standards that say we will have one standard of law enforcement for one group of victims but not for another.”