This week marked the eighteenth anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act, the landmark legislation fighting against uncalled for violence. Pete Gallego, in a letter to supporters, reflected on this anniversary while pressing for the act's re-authorization, as the Republican House is tone deaf to effectiveness of good laws.
Eighteen years ago today, Congress passed the landmark Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The legislation changed the lives of women who were victims of brutal acts – but these brutal acts were not considered crimes because they occurred inside the home. It's one of the most effective laws seeking to end domestic and sexual violence. And it's a law we still very much need.
One hundred and eleven women in Texas were killed by their intimate partner in 2009. That same year, 196,713 incidents of domestic violence were reported. Who knows how many more actually occurred?
Laws like VAWA are focused on bringing women – once forced to suffer in silence – out of the shadows and into the light of day. VAWA allows prosecution of violent crimes against women and provides for investigation of incidents that are not prosecuted. The law has helped women escape abusive situations and also funds services that protect crime victims.
Shamefully, the reauthorization of VAWA law has been left pending in Congress. Extremists in Congress oppose giving other victims of such crimes protection under the law. They have turned VAWA into a political issue. There is no reason why any individual should not be protected from sexual or domestic abuse.
I've prosecuted individuals who hurt women and children. In the legislature, I was the recognized advocate for crime victims and made it a felony to suffocate or strangle an intimate partner – one of the most common kinds of domestic abuse. In Congress, I'll continue to stand against these types of horrific attacks.
Sexual and domestic violence is wrong. It should never be tolerated – nor should we tolerate the actions of those who use politics as a shield to protect abusers and thereby endanger the safety of our mothers, daughters, sons, or families.
Pete Gallego is a Texas state representative and the Democratic candidate for the 23rd U.S. Congressional District of Texas.