Source: Associated Press
Long-awaited, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has finally been reauthorized by Congress through bipartisan agreement. Originally introduced in the ‘90s, VAWA is a form of legal protection aimed at “reduc[ing] domestic and sexual violence and improv[ing] the response to it through a variety of grant programs…” As a result, the Office on Violence Against Women within the Justice Department was established and has since granted over $9 billion to state and local governments, nonprofit organizations and universities. Some of the programs that are funded through VAWA include, but are not limited to: crisis intervention, transitional housing, and legal assistance to victims. 
Last reauthorized in 2013, disagreements over a proposed provision on the possession of firearms by people previously convicted of misdemeanor stalking has stalled the renewal process for three years. After encountering strong opposition from the NRA and Republicans, Democrats in Congress forwent the provision but have claimed that their efforts will be continuous. However, the latest version of the Act will afford increased spending to “strengthen rape prevention and education efforts as well as training for those in law enforcement and the judicial system”, in addition to protections for Native American, transgender and immigrant women. 
The reauthorization of VAWA is of great significance for women and girls across the country. Legislators across the aisle have come together to ensure the protection and empowerment of victims while increasing systemic knowledge on domestic and sexual abuse. Despite this, more work still needs to be done. Ending the cycle of abuse towards women is a continuous and unanimous effort at all levels, and it is far from over.