We are thrilled to share with you a long-awaited victory—the bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has passed both the House and the Senate and is on its way for signature by the President! With strong bipartisan support, this legislation contains critical protections for Tahirih’s clients.
This is a hard-won victory. It has been more than 500 days since VAWA expired, and over three years since efforts to reauthorize VAWA first began. It has been over a year since, in the last session of Congress, political standoffs derailed VAWA’s reauthorization, as divergent versions of VAWA bills were passed by the Senate and House and then stalled before final passage. Today’s vote would not have been possible without champions from both parties and advocates from across broad-based coalitions uniting in common purpose – thank you to all who rallied to reach this result! VAWA’s passage is a true testament to the power of bipartisanship.
Tahirih has been at the forefront of this long fight, and throughout, we have also advocated to keep the VAWA discourse passionate and principled, but not political. We co-chaired the Immigration Committee of the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, and we were a lead negotiator on VAWA’s immigration provisions with House and Senate leadership and committee staff. In 2012 alone, we met with over 30 Hill offices, and spent hundreds of hours preparing action alerts, reports, case story compilations, factsheets, and sign-on letters; leading and coordinating national advocacy efforts on the immigration provisions; drafting legislative language and bill summaries; and educating policymakers, the public, and the media.
Tahirih is particularly pleased that the legislation contains critical amendments to ensure the full implementation and enforcement of the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act (IMBRA). Tahirih helped draft this law enacted in 2006 to prevent the brutal abuse and exploitation of foreign women who meet their spouses through so-called “mail-order bride” agencies. Additionally, the bill strengthens other protections for immigrant survivors of domestic and sexual violence, reauthorizes the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, and includes a mandate for a multi-sectoral US strategy to end child marriage around the world.
We have been fortunate to multiply our impact by partnering with talented public policy professionals who donated their time to our cause. I want to specifically thank the firms of McDermott, Will and Emery; Gephardt Government Affairs; Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy; and Arnall Golden Gregory, for their expert advice and strategic assistance. We are grateful, too, to the support and guidance of Tahirih’s Public Policy Council and especially co-chairs Fern O’Brian (Thompson Hine, LLP) and Marti Thomas (The Duberstein Group), and for the generosity of Marti Cochran (Arnold & Porter) and Elizabeth Avery and Julia Sessoms (PepsiCo), and again, the firm of McDermott, Will and Emery, for hosting policy briefings for our supporters on VAWA and IMBRA. Thank you, also, to all our dedicated supporters who leaped into action when we sent out VAWA alerts.
Each VAWA reauthorization represents a crucial opportunity not only to continue, but also to improve and increase, our nation’s commitment to ending domestic and sexual violence. Tahirih is proud to have been a part of VAWA’s historic mandate by helping advance protections for all survivors, and as always, deeply grateful for your support.
Tahirih Founder and Executive Director