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Domestic violence act goes up for debate

In 1994, Congress passed the first federal law regarding domestic violence in America. At that time, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was a landmark piece of legislation, calling attention to an issue that many people had previously considered to be private family business out of the purview of the justice system. In the years that followed, state and local agencies worked to punish and prevent domestic violence and to offer legal and logistical assistance to the victims of abuse.

However, domestic violence is still an all-too-common occurrence in Las Vegas and throughout the United States, as evidenced by a recent survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The survey found that nearly 25 Americans are the victims of rape, physical violence or stalking at the hands of an intimate partner every minute. About one-fourth of American women have experienced severe physical violence at the hands of a partner, and nearly half of the women who die in the U.S. are killed by a spouse or significant other.

Because domestic violence has proven itself to be a pervasive problem, Congress has readily passed VAWA each time it came up for reauthorization. However, several federal lawmakers are now opposing the bill because it includes various provisions having to do with people in same-sex relationships, unauthorized immigrants, and residents of Native American reservations.

In response, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar has penned an editorial in the Huffington Post in which she urges her fellow lawmakers to pass VAWA. The issue, she says, is one of prevention. Children who witness or otherwise experience domestic violence in their homes are about 76 times more likely to commit violence during their lives, even if they are not themselves abused. By passing VAWA and continuing to work on domestic abuse prevention, she says, the cycle of violence can be stopped once and for all.

Source: Huffington Post, “Why We Must Reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act Now,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, April 26, 2012

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