Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) today joined Democratic colleagues at a press conference to announce the reintroduction of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), historically bipartisan legislation that established landmark protections for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and other crimes.
"I'm proud to join with my colleagues in reintroducing the Violence Against Women Act," said Kuster. "For nearly two decades, VAWA has extended critical protections to victims of domestic violence and other crimes, and enjoyed broad support from members of both parties -- as it should. Protecting women from violence should be above partisanship and politics. This is about extending fundamental protections to every woman in America, and working to eliminate domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and other forms of violence from our communities."
VAWA has improved the criminal justice system's ability to keep victims safe and hold perpetrators accountable. Based on this legislation, every state has enacted laws to make stalking a crime and strengthened criminal rape statutes. Since VAWA was signed into law, the annual incidence of domestic violence has dropped more than 50 percent, and reporting of domestic violence has increased as much as 51 percent.
"Domestic violence affects families and communities in New Hampshire and all across the country," Kuster added. "It's long past time for Republicans and Democrats in Congress to come together to reauthorize and strengthen this critical legislation."
In April 2012, the Senate passed its version of the VAWA reauthorization bill with broad bipartisan support. The Senate bill streamlined existing VAWA programs and contained a number of long-overdue updates that have been recommended by law enforcement, religious, legal, education, and service professionals who work with victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Unfortunately, the bill that passed the House of Representatives (H.R. 4970) last year failed to expand access for victims, and, in fact, actually rolled back protections for some victims of violence.
The legislation announced at today's press conference mirrors the bipartisan version of VAWA introduced by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) earlier this week.