What the Violence Against Women Act means for Washington

Seattle Times Editorial - Thanh Tan

I love it when stories come full circle.

President Barack Obama signed a bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act Thursday following a year-long political battle in Congress. In a series of editorials since December, The Seattle Times editorial board also urged Congress to take bipartisan action on an issue that affects tens of  thousands of victims.

Several women from Washington attended the ceremony in Washington, D.C. Below is a photo of U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., the chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and Theresa M. Pouley, chief judge of the Tulalip Tribal Court, and Deborah Parker, vice chairwoman of the Tulalip Tribes.

Here’s Cantwell’s statement:

“This day was a long time coming, but it will mean a major step forward to better protect all victims of domestic violence. Perpetrators of domestic violence on Tribal reservations can no longer hide behind legal gaps and loopholes to escape justice. I appreciate the bipartisan leadership on this bill and know millions of women across America will now get the enhanced protection they deserve.”

Parker stood on stage beside the president as he signed S. 47 into law. Her harrowing story of child abuse on the reservation prompted U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., to take on the cause of preserving VAWA and expanding it to include extra protections for Native women, who are more likely than other groups to be abused and raped.

In addition to native women, VAWA protection now extends to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender victims.

Here in Washington, advocates have used grant funding for emergency shelters, legal advocacy, education, and outreach. In 2012, the organizations listed below received a total of $9.3 million for their efforts.

It’s good to know they’ll be able to continue their work with federal support.