(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) released the following statement after the U.S. Senate passed the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011 by a vote of 68-31.
“Today, like each time we have reauthorized this bill before, we passed a better Violence Against Women Act. It’s a better bill because it not only ensures that existing safeguards are kept in place, it also expands protections to cover those who’ve needlessly been left to fend for themselves. Expanding coverage for domestic violence should never have been controversial. Where a person lives, who they love, or what their citizenship status may be should not determine whether or not their perpetrators are brought to justice. I’m glad that in the end we were able to come together around an inclusive, bipartisan bill and I’m hopeful that the House of Representatives can do the same.
“I was so proud to have been serving in the Senate in 1994 when we first passed the Violence Against Women Act. Since we took that historic step, VAWA has been a great success in coordinating victims’ advocates, social service providers, and law enforcement professionals to meet the immediate challenges of combating domestic violence. VAWA has attained such broad support because it’s worked. Since it became law 18 years ago, domestic violence has decreased by 53%. We’ve made a lot of progress since then and I am glad we are continuing on that path on behalf of all women today.”
Yesterday, Senator Murray was joined by Deborah Parker, Vice Chairwoman of the Tulalip Tribes, to discuss these critical provisions that will provide new protections for victims of domestic violence that were not previously covered by VAWA. Among these improvements is the ability for local justice officials in tribal communities to bring non-Indians who live and commit crimes against women on tribal lands to justice. Currently, federal prosecutors decline to prosecute a majority of violent crimes that occur in Indian country, including a large number of sexual abuse related cases.
Watch Vice Chairwoman Parker give her first-hand account of domestic abuse and the importance of VAWA here.