The US Senate [official website] voted 78-22 [roll call] on Tuesday to renew the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) [S 47, PDF] which expired in 2011. Last year the Republican-led House of Representatives [official website] and the Democratic-controlled Senate both passed renewal bills, but they were unable to reach a compromise [AP report] over a provision concerning whether tribal courts could prosecute non-Indians accused of assaulting Indian women on reservations. The bill's passage was welcomed by President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Attorney General Eric Holder [press releases]. The issue will now go before the House, where Republicans are creating their own version of the bill, although the Indian court provision is still expected to generate friction.
In 2011 a report [text, PDF] by UN Special Rapporteur Rashida Manjoo [official profile, DOC] said that there is a continued prevalence of violence [JURIST report] and discriminatory treatment of women in the US, with a heightened impact on poor, minority and immigrant women. The report said the US has taken some positive steps with the passage of the VAWA and the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA) [text, PDF], but concluded that a lack of substantive protective legislation at both the federal and state levels combined with the poor implementation of current laws was resulting in the continued prevalence of violence against women and a discrimination against victims, particularly affecting women in the military, women in detention, Native American women and other women in poor and/or immigrant communities. The report further said that rates of abuse against women are higher among the African American, Native American and immigrant communities. Last year JURIST Senior Editor Brandon Gatto argued that the VAWA should be reauthorized to better protect immigrant partners and spouses from abuse [JURIST report].