Intimate partner violence is an issue many young people face. In fact, girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence — almost triple the national average.
Young people will see many benefits in the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). VAWA, first passed in 1994, is the most important piece of federal legislation in the movement to end dating abuse. It expired in 2011 and must be reauthorized to ensure a continued federal response to these crimes.
Reauthorization is the process by which Congress makes changes, additions and deletions to a law. The Senate and the House of Representatives do not currently agree on what VAWA should look like in the future and so passed two different versions of the bill.
The Senate’s version, Senate Bill 1925, was passed by the Senate 68-31 votes in a true bi-partisan effort, meaning Democrats and Republicans put aside their differences for this issue. The Senate bill helps females but also males. Under it, all students will be educated about teen dating abuse, because despite stereotypes, males are victims of teen dating abuse too. This bill also offers more protection to the LGBTQ community, native populations and undocumented individuals. In addition to excluding critical protections for those groups, the House version, H.R. 4970, left out the vital Campus SaVE provisions, leaving college students behind.
These omissions are wrong. It is so important to urge the adoption of the Senate version of the VAWA during the reconciliation process, when the Senate and the House merge their bills and send one final version to the President.
It is important that protection extends to all groups because everyone can feel pain. The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 7 states all are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection. There are many issues in politics that do not have a definitive right or wrong. This issue, however, does. This hold up of the Senate-approved version of VAWA is wrong. How can you deny someone protection under the law?
It is time to step-up and say intimate partner violence isn’t acceptable in our country no matter what your ethnicity, age, sexual orientation or immigration status may be. It is time to step-up and say that everyone has the right to security at home and in relationships. It is time to step up and have your voice heard.
Sign the Campus Survivor’s petition here: http://bit.ly/NmIzEg