Will Lawmakers Leave Abused Women Defenseless?

The Nation's Salamishah Tillet examines the latest changes to the Violence Against Women Act.

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For a rape survivor, recovery is hard enough, and without a crisis treatment center, it can be almost impossible, says the Nation’s Salamishah Tillet. Following the House vote to minimize the strength and effectiveness of the Violence Against Women Act, Tillet calls foul.

Full disclosure: as a rape survivor, I have been a direct beneficiary of VAWA’s funding for I, like millions of women across the country, went to my local rape crisis center for help. Since then, through my work as a university professor and the co-founder of A Long Walk Home, a nonprofit that empowers college students to end campus sexual assault I have witnessed firsthand how VAWA’s Grants to Reduce Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence and Stalking on Campus Program have increased resources for victims and prevention programs on campuses all over the country.

This year, the bill’s reauthorization has become enmeshed in a series of political battle between Democrats and Republicans over the scope of its protections. Democrats have fought to expand its coverage to include protections for groups especially vulnerable to gender-based crimes, such as gay, lesbian and transgender victims, Native Americans and undocumented workers. Those provisions were part of the Senate bill that passed in April.

The approved House Republican version, on the other hand, removed such stipulations, with Republicans claiming that their bill was both gender-neutral and “victim-centered.”

Read Salamishah Tillet's entire op-ed at the Nation.

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Salamishah Tillet is a rape survivor and co-founder of A Long Walk Home, a nonprofit that uses art to end violence against girls and women. She is also an associate professor of English studies at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of Sites of Slavery: Citizenship, Racial Democracy, and the Post-Civil Rights Imagination. She is working on a book about civil rights icon Nina Simone.

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