The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Obama’s revised Violence Against Women Act to protect more groups

President Obama made a move to protect more victims of violence by announcing on March 7 that he would sign the Violence Against Women Act, which would add coverage for gays, lesbians, transgender people, immigrants and Native Americans who were previously not included in its protections.

The act received bipartisan support from The House of Representatives Feb. 28, when 87 republicans and 199 democrats voted to pass the bill, which sent it to Obama.

“I was pleased to see the House of Representatives come together and vote to reauthorize and strengthen the Violence Against Women Act,” Obama said in a statement. “Over more than two decades, this law has saved countless lives and transformed the way we treat victims of abuse.”

Members of the LGBT community who may have been turned away from shelters will now be able to access services and protection through resources, such as grants and legal aid, under the recently passed Senate version of the bill.

“(Those in the LGBT community) will not feel like they have to keep it a secret anymore,” said President of Project D.A.T.E, Miranda Casteneda, psychology major, 21. “That community is going to feel like everyone does care, no matter who you are.”

This is not the first time that VAWA has been passed. Vice President Joe Biden drafted the GOP bill in 1994 while he was senator of Delaware. The act was passed with bipartisan support then as well, according to ABC News.

“The urgent need for this bill cannot be more obvious,” Biden said in a statement. “Consider just one fact—that 40 percent of all mass shootings started with the murderer targeting their girlfriend, or their wife, or their ex-wife.”

The act of 1994 provided funding toward the investigation and prosecution of violence crimes against women. It also demanded automatic and mandatory restitution for those convicted, as well as established the Office on Violence Against Women in the Department of Justice according to When the act was on the verge of expiration in 2000, President Bill Clinton reauthorized the bill in October of that year.

This year, the GOP version of the bill was not passed. The revised Senate version was presented and voted on. The GOP bill did not specifically cover the LGBT community and American Indian community.

Stephanie Berry, 22, real estate major and former vice president of V-Day CSUN, an organization that fights to stop violence against women, was pleased to see the passing of the bill.

“I am excited for America. It always seems like women are put last and this time we’ve come out victorious,” Berry said. “It will be exciting to see some changes.”

Additionally, the new VAWA will give police the power to arrest non-Indians on Indian country.

According to Dr. Karren Baird-Olson, professor in American Indian studies and sociology-criminology, most violent crimes against American Indians are done by white offenders. Police did not have the jurisdiction there, but VAWA will change that.

“It is a major step in the right direction. It’s not enough yet, but it’s a big step,” Baird-Olson said. “I’m 76 years old and when you see this happen, I can’t help but get excited.”

Diane Millich, a member of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe in Colorado, described in a statement her account of not receiving protection from law enforcement in an abusive relationship that she endured.

“I called so many times but over the months not a single arrest was made… ” Millich said. “After a beating my ex-husband called the county sheriff himself to show me that no one could stop him. He was right, two deputies came and confirmed that they did not have jurisdiction.”

The act will also give battered immigrants more relief so that abusers cannot use the victim’s immigration status to prevent victims from calling the police or seeking safety.

Between 1993 and 2011, the rate of intimate partner violence declined 67 percent, according to the White House website. Between 1993 to 2007, the rate of intimate partner homicides of females decreased 35 percent, and the rate of intimate partner homicides of males decreased 46 percent.

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