By Jesse Franz
On Feb. 26, Congress reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The bill was originally created in 1994 under the leadership of then Senator Joe Biden. It improved criminal justice responses to domestic violence and ensured that victims have access to services for their safety and in order to rebuild their lives after the trauma. However, Republican Representative Tom McClintock, whose district encompasses part of Fresno County, voted against reauthorization.
McClintock claimed that he voted no on the VAWA because of a provision that seeks to protect women on tribal lands, mandatory minimum sentences for domestic abusers and because of the grant money it would allocate to programs that assist and protect those who fall victim to abuse.
Since the VAMA was first ratified in 1994 the rate of intimate partner violence has fallen by 67%. The rate of intimate partner homicide has fallen 35% for women and 46% for males, and more victims are reporting domestic violence to police creating more arrests for abuse. Also, it has led to the creation of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, which has received more than 3,000,000 calls since its creation, and 92% of those callers report that it was their first attempt to reach out for help (this being one of the programs that McClintock does not want to spend federal money on).