After months of Republican stalling, the Senate unanimously voted yesterday to pass the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act, an anti-crime bill that includes the Sex Trafficking Victims Protection Act and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The law codifies VAWA for five years and authorizes $3 billion in funds for sexual assault and domestic violence prevention, including sexual assault prevention training for judges, battered women’s services, state-based services for victims of domestic violence, and transitional housing for victims of domestic violence. The law authorizes $94.5 million for victims of sex trafficking, creates special visas for victims of trafficking and slavery, and doubles the current maximum penalty for sex trafficking. In addition, the bill specifies that the United States withhold certain aid from governments who fail to enforce the provisions.
The Feminist Majority Foundation, along with other national women’s organizations, has campaigned for the reauthorization of this crucial legislation. FMF President Eleanor Smeal spoke at several recent press conferences, alongside feminist leaders and women members of Congress, demanding that Republican stop their political game-playing with this essential bill. Just after the bill was passed, the President and Vice President each issued statements in support of VAWA and the Sex Trafficking Victims Protection Act, demonstrating a commitment to protecting women from sexual assault and domestic violence.