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Reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. KAPTUR. I want to thank Congresswoman Edwards for her phenomenal leadership throughout her adult life on this issue, before she came to Congress and, obviously, now, a tremendous leader here on an issue of vital concern, and I underline the word vital, to America's families, to America's women, to those in tribal communities, to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender communities, to our immigrant families, to our immigrant spouses.

Let me just say that I don't recall ever the Violence Against Women Act being controversial. We have always, on a unanimous basis practically, passed it year after year after year. But this year, House Republicans have decided that they want to make an issue where they shouldn't be an issue. How sad. Sort of devolutionist, trying to move America backwards rather than forwards.

Every American should be free from fear. They should be free from abuse, and they should have equal protection under the law. The Violence Against Women Act does exactly that.

And I have two cases I just wanted to briefly mention, one from my district, where a horrible crime occurred. A woman was literally dismembered by her spouse, and each body part was put in a different trash can in the western part of one of the counties that I represent. And I thought about the agony that that woman suffered, year after year after year, fear for her own life, and eventually it was lost, and not reporting this, not going anywhere, being completely consumed by the fear that eventually resulted in her death. No American should face that.

And then I recall being called in our office by a gentleman saying, Marcy, you know, up the street from me, a woman has moved in with a man, and she's an immigrant from Russia. And my wife and I believe she's being beaten, but she's not a citizen. What can we do? How can we help her? This was years ago. This was a few years ago.

And I think of these cases that have come across during my period of service, and I know how important the Violence Against Women Act is to reduce domestic violence in our country and give women and give individuals a place to go. Even today, since 1994, we know that domestic violence has dropped more than 50 percent. However, the other 50 percent is still there. And I see this, sadly, in the regions that I represent. And I'm not alone. But there's still a lot of people that don't know where to go.

I recall one time traveling with then-Congresswoman, now Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis. We were down at the border in Texas, and we went to one women's shelter with this gigantic electric fence around it to try to protect the women in those border communities for the violence that they were enduring.

And so I want to thank Congresswoman Edwards for taking this lead tonight, to help to reauthorize this important program, to assure that we have adequate refuge for those who are living in fear in order to save their lives.

My goodness. This is the greatest country in the world, and we know that statistics show 1 in 4 women, this is a shocking number, have been the victims of severe physical domestic violence, and 1 in 5 women have been raped in their lifetimes, many in the U.S. military.

And I want to compliment Congresswoman Jackie Speier for her phenomenal leadership on that issue to try to get justice inside the military, as well as in civilian society.

So I just want to say that I'm sorry that there are those who don't want to protect the lives of all citizens that live inside our borders, and immigrants that have come here who face tremendous obstacles of various kinds that many people can't imagine, but they're actually happening, and to make sure that all those within our borders are given equal protection under the law and justice and the opportunity to live in freedom without fear.

So I want to thank Congresswoman Edwards for bringing us together this evening and for making such a tremendous contribution to doing what's right and what's necessary for our country. Thank you for leading us forward.


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