Sexual Health news - Sexual Health and Behavior

Violence Against Women Act is up for renewal this year

This year, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) will be eligible for renewal by Congress and the Senate for the third time since its inception in 1994. The piece of legislation has made great strides in reducing the rates of rape and domestic abuse in the U.S., and this year's revisions aim to expand upon the protection it provides to women.

Essentially, the proposed changes will include provisions extending protection to individuals who are gay, lesbian and transgendered, as well as Native Americans and undocumented immigrants. 

Challenges have been forecasted

While the VAWA has historically received bipartisan support, some worry that this year's revisions touch on the sensitive topics of providing equal rights to homosexuals and residents who do not have citizenship.

In fact, Senate Republicans have already expressed opposition to the bill in the Judiciary Committee, stating that the provisions are a way for Democrats to force their social views on others under the guise of women's rights, according to the Washington Post.

Support for women's sexual health remains strong

The news source also reported that many Senators are urging the VAWA's passing, calling its effect at reducing violence and sexual assault "remarkable." Moreover, the revisions may even cut back on expenditures.

"In addition to addressing unmet needs, the bill consolidates programs and cuts the authorization level from the last authorization by more than $135 million a year to $695 million," according to the news source.

VAWA has a strong track record

According to a fact sheet distributed by the White House, rates of intimate partner violence have dropped by 67 percent since VAWA's inception. Additionally, the number of homicide cases committed by partners has gone down by 35 percent for female victims, and dropped by 46 percent in male victims.

The VAWA has resulted in more severe penalties for rapists, including a "rape shield law" that prevents defendants in sexual assault cases from using the plaintiff's sexual history as an argument during trial. Also, the act provides free rape exams and protection orders to victims.