Obama Signs Violence Against Women Act
March is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, as well as National Women’s History Month.
The revitalized Violence Against Women Act hands a long-awaited victory for women’s groups and women everywhere. particularly black women: while they comprise 8% of the U.S. population, Black women account for more than 22% of intimate partner homicide victims.
The Violence Against Women Act has set the standard for how to protect women, and some men, from domestic abuse and prosecute abusers and is credited with helping reduce domestic violence incidents by two-thirds since its inception in 1994.
“This is your day. This is the day of the advocates, the day of the survivors. This is your victory,” Obama said. “This victory shows that when the American people make their voices heard, Washington listens.”
Black Women & Violence
According to reports, 1 in 5 women will be raped during their lifetime. Also, the Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community reports that black women who are battered have more physical ailments, mental health issues, are less likely to practice safe sex, and are more likely to abuse substances during pregnancy than black women without a history of abuse.
They are also at greater risk for attempting suicide, particularly if they were physically abused as a child, for being depressed, and to suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
• Intimate partner violence among African Americans is related to economic factors. Intimate partner violence among blacks occurs more frequently among couples with low incomes, those in which the male partner is underemployed or unemployed, particularly when he is not seeking work, and among couples residing in very poor neighborhoods, regardless of the couple’s income.
• In a nationally representative survey conducted in 1996, 29% of African American women and 12% of African American men reported at least one instance of violence from an intimate partner.
• African Americans account for a disproportionate number of intimate partner homicides. In 2005, African Americans accounted for almost 1/3 of the intimate partner homicides in this country.
• Black women comprise 8% of the U.S. population but in 2005 accounted for 22% of the intimate partner homicide victims and 29% of all female victims of intimate partner homicide.
• Intimate partner homicides among African Americans have declined sharply in the last 30 years. Partner homicides involving a black man or a black woman decrease
Though, there is some good news: The rate of sexual violence against women and girls age 12 or older fell 64 percent in a decade and has remained stable for five years. Also, the rate of rapes and sexual assaults involving women has plateaued while violent crime overall has declined. Women’s advocacy groups consider this to be proof that the Violence Against Women Act and heightened awareness of the problem by police has had a positive effect.
“One of the great legacies of this law is it didn’t just change the rules, it changed our culture. It empowered people to start speaking out,” Obama said.