President Signs VAWA Into Law

Includes Bennet Bill to Reduce Rape Kit Backlog

Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet applauded today’s official signing of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) into law. The bill contains Bennet’s provision to help reduce the national rape kit backlog.

The bipartisan bill was signed by the President this afternoon, after passing the House of Representatives last week. It passed the Senate on February 12.

“The renewal of the Violence Against Women Act has been a long time coming – too long, considering it expired in 2011,” Bennet said. “I’m glad that we were finally able to pass this bill and provide much-needed resources and services for organizations serving victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.”

“In addition to helping survivors heal, this bipartisan bill also includes measures that will help reduce our national backlog of rape kits and improve safety for women on college campuses,” Bennet added.

Last month, Bennet was joined by victim rights advocates and law enforcement officials in a visit to the Crossroads Safehouse in Fort Collins, a shelter for victims of domestic violence, to highlight the need to renew VAWA.

“The Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CCASA) is thrilled to learn that the Violence Against Women Act has been reauthorized,” Karen Moldovan, CCASA Program Manager, said. “Survivors of sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and stalking must have access to critical support services following these horrific crimes and  VAWA makes this possible.  We are thankful to all the members of the Colorado delegation who supported this bill to help survivors and hold offenders accountable.  We urge Colorado lawmakers and citizens to join in the efforts to end violence against women by getting involved with your local rape crisis center.”

VAWA contains the SAFER Act, which Bennet originally introduced last year with Senator John Cornyn (R-TX).  It is designed to help reduce the backlog of rape kits by helping state and local governments conduct audits of rape kits in law enforcement storage facilities by increasing available funds for crime labs to process those kits.

The Campus SaVE Act, which Bennet cosponsored, is also included in VAWA.  It aims to increase safety on college campuses.

VAWA advances efforts to combat domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking through a combination of victim services and prevention and education programs. It was originally enacted as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. It was reauthorized easily in 2000 and 2005, but expired in 2011. Last year, it was renewed by the Senate, but the House failed to take it up for a vote, or to offer its own version.