“The law strengthens the criminal justice system’s response to crimes against women, including domestic violence, sexual assault and trafficking.”
President Obama hopes Thursday is a sign of things to come. The president signs into law a bill passed by both the Democratic Senate and the Republican House, a renewal of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
The Act will provide a host of services for domestic violence provide a host of services for domestic violence across the country, from legal aid to emergency and transitional shelter to various counseling and recovery services. It also offers new protections for gay, lesbian and transgender couples, provides thousands of visas for undocumented immigrants who have been victims of abuse, and provides new authority for Native American courts to prosecute non-Native American abusers.
In addition, VAWA will include new requirements for how colleges and universities handle allegations of sexual assault. NPR reports the new law — the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act, which was added to the Violence Against Women Act — clarifies the rights of victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence or stalking on campus. It gives victims a new ability to appeal an outcome. It also requires schools to inform victims of their rights and options, and to tell them where to get counseling and legal help.
Universities are already required to report campus crime under the Clery Act, passed in 1990 to lay out across-the-board rules for compiling crime data and issuing warnings.
Daniel Carter, former senior vice president of the nonprofit Security on Campus, said the act would modernize the Clery Act for the 21st century and outline best practices for school to respond to sexual violence.
Carter, an expert on the Clery Act, added that the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act was first introduced in 2010, driven by an investigation of sexual assault on college campuses and the murder of University of Virginia senior Yeardley Love, who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend that year.
The House of Representatives voted 286 to 138 in favor of the bipartisan Senate bill last week.
Vice President Joe Biden penned the original law as a Delaware senator in 1994, which gave $1.6 billion toward the investigation of violent crimes against women and also covered male victims of domestic violence.