Monday, March 4, 2013

“Violence Against Women Act” Passes

March is Women’s History month and I believe that the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act made history last Thursday when it passed in the House of Representatives after a considerable round of debates. According to the NY Times “this newly passed legislations creates and expands federal programs to assist local communities with law enforcement and aiding victims of domestic and sexual abuse. The bill also offers protections for gay, bisexual or transgender victims of domestic abuse as well as allowing American Indian women who are assaulted on reservations by non-Indians to take their case to tribal courts, which otherwise would not have jurisdiction over assailants who do not live on tribal land.”

More than 1,300 women’s and human rights groups signed a letter supporting this law. Among them was the United Methodist Board of Church and Society. While I was a pastor many times I was involved with helping women who were victims of domestic violence. One of my parishioners stabbed his wife to death in a domestic argument. She had been beaten by him a number of times before her murder. Many of our church families harbor terrible secrets of abuse in their homes and both men and women are victims.

According to the American Bar Association Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence nearly 25% of women and 7.6% of men were raped and/or physically assaulted by a current or former spouse or partner. Approximately 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are physically assaulted by a partner annual in the US. In the year 2000 1,247 women and 440 men were killed by an intimate partner.

As we think about Women’s History this month, help more women have a violence-free, abundant life by teaching about domestic abuse, support programs and efforts to protect vulnerable people who find themselves in dangerous environments and pray that God might use you to help a person in need.