In the U.S., one in four women are victims of domestic violence at some point in their lives. On average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner.
These scary statistics highlight why the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) exists and is so important. One year ago today, Congress finally did the right thing and reauthorized VAWA, after conservative extremists allowed VAWA to expire for the first time since it became law in 1994.
VAWA revolutionized the way violent crimes against women are prosecuted and prevented, and since VAWA became law domestic violence has dropped by more than half.
The unnecessarily long fight to reauthorize VAWA–which has traditionally been a bipartisan, non-controversial vote–demonstrates how important it is to have progressive champions in Congress. VAWA expired for more than a year because conservative politicians didn’t want to include landmark protections for Native American and LGBT women, but our progressive leaders took a stand and refused to reauthorize VAWA unless it included protections for all women, because all women deserve protection from abuse or violence – no matter if they are black, white, immigrant, Native American or gay.
We need leaders who recognize this and will work to protect all women from domestic violence, instead of picking winners and losers.
Sen. Al Franken is one of those progressive leaders. In an emotional Senate floor speech about reauthorizing VAWA, Sen. Franken recalled Sheila Wellstone’s passion and commitment to preventing violence against women.