A federal domestic violence protection act, which had become a political football of sorts in recent months in Washington, D.C., was signed into law Thursday by President Barack Obama.
“We’re very pleased that the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) passed in both houses and are very happy it’s been signed into law,” said Judy Edmonson, executive director of AVENUES in Hannibal. “The thing about VAWA is it’s a piece of legislation that does make a difference and does save lives.”
The passage of VAWA is significant because it maintains an important funding stream for AVENUES, which serves seven counties in Northeast Missouri – Marion, Pike, Ralls, Shelby, Monroe, Clark and Lewis.
“For this year it keeps us flush at the (funding) level we were. Does it provide for future (funding) increases? Yes. But for right now it keeps us from losing funding. The most important piece for us is we’re not losing funding,” said Edmonson. “Had it not passed we would have lost two positions at AVENUES, one is specifically funded by VAWA and the other is funded by VAWA indirectly.”
The approved VAWA includes new protections for Native Americans.
“We have provisions for the Native American women, who are being victimized. The other piece that was really important to those of us in the advocacy world was the immigration, the ability for the women (to be protected) who are brought into this country by U.S. citizens. That was a huge piece of it, the immigration status,” said Edmonson. “In all honesty, in the past five years we’ve had at least two women here in Hannibal that needed that provision of VAWA. It does make a difference to have those two provisions in there to protect all. It’s just more inclusive of all.”
(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)