WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-04) voted on March 17 to pass H.R. 1620, a bipartisan, long-term Violence Against Women Act reauthorization. The landmark Violence Against Women Act of 1994 ushered in transformative progress by calling for the protection of all Americans from violence and abuse and working to ensure all victims and survivors have the support they need. Johnson said the critical reauthorization will safeguard and further strengthen life-saving protections for women throughout Georgia and across the country.
The reauthorization follows a deadly shooting spree in metro-Atlanta area in which a 21-year-old gunman killed 8 people, which included six Asian women and one white woman, on March 16 at three massage spas.
“The shooting spree last night in my home state of Georgia only further demonstrates how critical it is that our government and our society work urgently to prioritize the safety of women, particularly women of color. Asian women, Black women, Native women, all women are not safe in their communities, at their places of work, or in their homes,” said Johnson referring to the murder of eight people, including six Asian women in metro Atlanta by a lone gunman on March 16. “The passage of this legislation is an important step, and I’m proud we are expanding the reach of this law. But we cannot build safe spaces for women without simultaneously routing out systemic racism and bigotry.”
This VAWA reauthorization builds upon the progress forged over the two-and-a-half decades since this legislation was first passed: since then, the rate of domestic violence in America has fallen by half. But more protections are needed, especially as 1 in 3 women still experience domestic violence, and as the coronavirus crisis has forced many women to quarantine in unsafe domestic situations.
Johnson said the bipartisan reauthorization improves the current law by:
- Making vital new investments in violence prevention;
- Strengthening essential protections for the most vulnerable, including immigrant, LGBTQ and Native American women and specifically supporting communities of color in a culturally sensitive way;
- Improving services for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking;
- Making improvements in the criminal justice response to gender-based violence and improving the health care system’s response to domestic violence
- Helping stop abusers and stalkers from obtaining firearms; and
- Expanding protections for victims’ and survivors’ financial security, including housing protections and anti-discrimination protections in the workplace.
“Protecting women from violence and abuse has long been a bipartisan priority, and I am glad that this legislation has support from both sides of the aisle” Johnson said. “With today’s passage of the VAWA reauthorization, Congress is fulfilling our commitment to ensure that all women have the resources and support they need to seek justice, receive care and rebuild their lives. In honor of my responsibility to the women of Georgia, I will keep fighting until this legislation makes it to the President’s desk and is signed into law.”