The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

February 14, 2013

Our View: One billion reasons

The Joplin Globe

— For the second time in recent months, a large U.S. Senate majority  has voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.

The act, which provides funding to police departments and shelters for abused women, typically gets reauthorized with little fanfare.

But last year’s Congress failed to pass this important law because of House objections to provisions in the Senate bill that expanded protections for lesbians and gays, Native Americans and undocumented immigrant victims of violence. This year’s Senate VAWA bill, which passed on Tuesday, left out the provision for undocumented immigrants.

In our view, violence against any gender, no matter race, sexual preference or legal status, is unacceptable. Certainly that is a stand that we as a nation must agree upon.

The bill authorizes $659 million over five years for VAWA programs. It  expands VAWA to give more attention to sexual assault prevention and to help reduce a backlog in processing rape kits. The act was created in 1994 and has helped to strengthen programs and services for victims of domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.  

Today, a large number of women are expected to gather at 12:30 p.m. in front of the Joplin Public Library to take part in the international movement called One Billion Rising, which strives to end violence against women and girls. One billion women are being invited to walk out, dance, rise up and demand an end to the violence.

We would ask members of the U.S. House, including 7th Congressional District Rep. Billy Long, to follow the Senate’s lead and pass the Violence Against Women Act right away.

In case any members of the House are indifferent or undecided about the act, 1 billion women plan to give them 1 billion reasons to change their minds.