Senator Joe Donnelly spoke with Indiana media today about the passage of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in the Senate. VAWA, which Donnelly co-sponsored, passed with bipartisan support of 78 senators including Indiana's Senior Senator, Dan Coats.
"The FBI estimates that a rape occurs in Indiana every five hours," said Donnelly. "That is a tragedy, and we owe the survivors of rape, sexual assault, and stalking our full support and protection. Last year, this bill failed to receive a vote in the House of Representatives because of partisan politics, but yesterday we saw 78 members of the United States Senate work across party lines to make our country a safer place. The House should follow suit immediately."
VAWA was signed into law in 1994, providing critical resources to survivors of domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, and stalking. In September of 2011, VAWA expired for the very first time in its 17-year history despite passing the Senate with strong bipartisan support because of differences with the House of Representatives. This year's VAWA reauthorization has faced strong opposition from Tea Party advocacy groups FreedomWorks and Heritage Action over protection for women on Native American tribal lands.
The Indiana Coalition Against Sexual Assault reports that one in seven Indiana women will be raped in their lifetime. Although many of the programs established under VAWA have continued to receive funding through a series of continuing resolutions, a full reauthorization is needed to ensure that local communities and law enforcement agencies receive the full resources they need to combat domestic violence.