After months of vicious battling on the Hill, the Violence Against Women Act is finally on its way to the White House for Obama's signature. The Senate passed a bipartisan version of the (in our opinion, needlessly) controversial bill after rejecting the GOP draft, against which 60 Republicans voted.
The difference between the two bills lies mainly in the GOP version's failure to include protections for LGBT women, enhanced powers for Native American tribal judicial bodies, and special provisions for addressing untested rape kits and stopping human trafficking. The GOP bill also included restrictions on special U Visas for immigrant victims of abuse.
Though it might sound like a no-brainer, the passed bill includes a number of monumental adjustments to our government's current efforts to effectively treat, prevent, and prosecute rape and domestic abuse. Among these are community-prevention programs, increased funding for victim services, and special programs for groups at a particular disadvantage in this department, like disabled women and immigrants. Perhaps most notable is the inclusion of a federal rape-shield law — a law which prevents the cross-examination of rape victims in the court room regarding their past sexual history. You can learn more about the details here.
Mark your calendars — this is a day that will go down in history! As common sense as these notions may sound, it's really reassuring to see them written in law. We still have a long way to go in the field of women's rights, but this is a big step.
Image via The Washington Post.