On March 7, 2013—the day before International Women’s Day—President Obama signed into law the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), this time with added protections for the LGBT community and immigrant and Native American women. However, while activists are thrilled to see the passage of the act, budget cuts implemented as part of Congress’s sequestration deal threaten to underfund the programs they fought so hard to maintain. If the cuts go forward as planned, programs funded by VAWA could lose more than $20 million, potentially leaving 35,927 victims without access to much-needed services. Furthermore, the lost funds would come on top of a slew of state budget cuts to similar programs, along with a struggling economy that exasperates the affects of domestic violence and complicates women’s efforts to leave their abusers.
Reports indicate that President Obama and Congress may be working out a deal to end the sequester. Tell your representatives that domestic violence victims cannot be used as bargaining chips. Demand that any deal to avert the sequester restores full funding to VAWA programs.
Deborah Parker, vice chairwoman of the Tulalip Tribes of Washington State, gestures before President Obama before he signs the Violence Against Women Act. (AP/Susan Walsh)