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Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act of 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. RUPPERSBERGER. Madam Speaker, this week, the House of Representatives is expected to take up a bill reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), a traditionally noncontroversial bill that improves the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women. The bill works: We've seen a 60 percent decrease in domestic violence since the bill first passed in 1994.

The Senate recently passed its version of this bill in an overwhelming, bipartisan vote. Unfortunately, the partisan House version rolls back some of its most critical components, limiting protections for certain classes of women. In fact, women's advocacy groups like the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence say this bill would discourage victims of these heinous crimes from going to the police for help and actually increase abusers' power.

I can't support this bill for a number of reasons, but chief among them are its failure to include provisions to help reduce violence against young women on college campuses. This issue, in particular, resonates as we mark the second anniversary of the tragic death of Yeardley Love, a Baltimore native and student athlete at the University of Virginia who was beaten by her abusive ex-boyfriend.

Yeardley's mother, Sharon Love, recently visited Washington to encourage lawmakers to swiftly pass the VAWA reauthorization approved by the Senate. That bill requires colleges to provide clear protocols and disciplinary policies for reports of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault or stalking. It also requires colleges to help victims report the incident to law enforcement and seek a protective order if they choose to do so, as well as provide victims with options to change academic, living and transportation arrangements. Finally, it provides prevention programs for students who could be abusers, victims and bystanders.

It is shameful that the architects of the House bill have opted to remove these critical components. I am urging House leadership to bring the Senate version to a vote so we can provide real protection to women of all ages and races.


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