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Violence Against Woman Act signed into law

On March 6, President Obama signed the Violence Against Women Act into law, a new measure that revives protections that expired in 2011. The act also expands the earlier law, providing protections to gay and Native American victims of domestic violence throughout the country, including California. The original Violence Against Women Act was written and and sponsored in 1994 by Vice President Joe Biden.

Recently released domestic violence statistics from the United States Department of Justice reveal that rates have remained steady over the past five years, and have declined over the past 10 years. For example, 556,000 females reported rapes or sexual assault in the United States during 1995. By 2010, that number had dropped to 270,000. Reported incidents of domestic violence have decreased by two-thirds since 1994. It is believed that the act played a significant part. Referencing the statistics, Obama said that 20 percent of women could be raped at some point during their lives.

The Violence Against Women Act has previously been renewed twice. 2011 was the first time that the bill's passage was delayed due to an inability of the opposing parties to reach an agreement. The bill finally was approved after the Republican Party performed poorly among female voters in the 2012 elections.

The law provides five years' worth of funding for programs that protect victims of domestic violence, including law enforcement training, legal assistance for victims, hotlines and places for victims to go after leaving an abusive relationship. The law also allows for expanded education and protections on college campuses. Immigrants are also protected under the new law. Any person who is a victim of domestic violence may benefit from speaking with an experienced family law attorney.

Source: CBS News, "Obama signs expanded domestic violence law," March 7, 2013

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