President Obama signs Reauthorization of VAWA 2013
by Lazarita Chumpitazi, J.D./LL.M. candidate, Human Trafficking Academy Graduate Fellow
Historic legislation affording all women greater protections from violent relationships was signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 7, 2013. The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was initially enacted in 1994 in an effort to provide women with protection from domestic abuse and to ensure prosecution of the abusers. The VAWA’s main purpose is to recognize the pervasive nature of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking among girls and women, to prohibit such conduct and to support organizations who are offering comprehensive services to those affected by these heinous crimes.
The reauthorization of VAWA has broadened these protections by adding the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2013 (TVPRA) in its entirety as an amendment. The TVPRA is an essential tool that the United States uses, since the year 2000 in order to fulfill its objectives of combating human trafficking. The United States government is able to fund investigation and prosecution of the trafficking crime, preventive efforts at home and abroad, as well as services for survivors, through the TVPRA. The statute combats both national and international trafficking in persons, defines the penalties for trafficking, promotes interagency cooperation, and ensures international monitoring of states’ compliance with international minimum standards, contained in the TVPRA.
Other changes to the VAWA include extending tribal jurisdiction over non-Natives who commit crimes of domestic violence or sexual assault against a Native American spouse or partner, extending rights to the LGBTQ community, and to the illegal immigrants who are victims of domestic violence, rape, and sex trafficking. This law has helped over 2 million victims since its initial enactment.