Legislation to protect women from assault goes to Biden’s desk

A bill shepherded through Congress by U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski, R-AK, with Dianne Feinstein, D-CA, Joni Erst, R-IA and Dick Durbin, D-IL, to stem violence toward women was on its way to President Joe Biden this past week for his signature.

The bipartisan legislation, including the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022, will reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act of 2022, reauthorize VAWA through 2027, preserve advancements impervious reauthorizations and strengthen and modernize the nearly 30-year-old law.

Benefits of the refurbished legislation include increased resources for law enforcement and judicial systems, including those in Native communities, including improved access to essential support services such as safe housing for victims of violence.

The goal, said Murkowski, “is to ensure that women are safe and that every victim has a path to justice.” In 2020 over half of the women surveyed in Alaska had experienced intimate partner violence, sexual violence, or both in their lifetime, she said. The new resources on the way will create safer communities for all women, she said.

Bill provisions include the tribal title addressing epidemic of violence in tribal communities nationwide, including Alaska; Bree’s Law, named for 20-year-old Alaskan Breanna (Bree) Moore, who was murdered by her boyfriend in 2014, which drives education initiatives encouraging youths, their parents and advocates to recognize, prevent and mitigate teen dating violence; the Enduring Forensic Care for All Victims Act to improve access to medical forensics for victims of interpersonal violence by authorizing demonstration grants to provide evidence-based and trauma-informed training for a broad group of providers, registered nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, physicians, and community health aides and practitioners.

Also included in the umbrella legislation package is the Survivors’ Access to Supportive Care Act, to help improve and expand health care healthcare services for survivors of sexual assault.