Sat, 02 July 2022
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Angelina Jolie urges US Congress to pass Violence Against Women Act

Update : 10 Feb 2022, 14:30

Hollywood actress and humanitarian advocate Angelina Jolie made a powerful appearance in the Senate on Wednesday, where she delivered a passionate speech during the introduction of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act.

The actress made the call while giving a speech at the US Capitol, accompanied by her daughter Zahara. In an emotional speech over the topic during a press conference, she questioned the time taken for this to happen and the suffering that women have had to endure as a consequence. She criticised Congress for its silence on domestic violence while urging the bipartisan group to pass the new version of the Act.

Jolie shared on her Instagram feed a picture of her with her daughter sitting and going through a piece of paper. In the background stood the United States flag. She shared the picture with the caption, “Heading into the Senate’s introduction of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, I’m grateful and humbled to join with dedicated advocates and legislators.”

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A post shared by Angelina Jolie (@angelinajolie)

Jolie gave an emotional speech urging Congress to reauthorize the law. “Standing here at the center of our nation’s power, I can think only of everyone who has been made to feel powerless by their abusers, by a system that failed to protect them,” she said.

“The reason that many people struggle to leave abusive situations is that they’ve been made to feel worthless,” Jolie added. “When there is silence from a Congress too busy to renew the Violence Against Women Act for a decade, it reinforces that sense of worthlessness.”

The law, first introduced in the Senate in 1990 by President Joe Biden when he was a senator from Delaware, aims to reduce domestic and sexual violence and improve the response to it through a variety of grant programs. A subsequent version was eventually included in a sweeping crime bill that then-President Bill Clinton signed into law four years later. Congress has reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act three times since.

During the press conference, Jolie said that she wants to acknowledge the children who have suffered and were terrified because the legislation took such a long time to act upon the reauthorization. “The women who have suffered through this system with little or no support, they still carry the pain and the trauma of their abuse,” she said, adding that the young adults who have suffered and emerged stronger, not because of the child protective system “but despite it.”

She also remembered the women and children who died but could have been saved if this Act was passed before. This bill was introduced by Democratic senators Dick Durbin, Dianne Feinstein and Republican senators Joni Ernst and Lisa Murkowski. Emphasising the need to pass this bill, the actor said, “The reason that many people struggle to leave abusive situations is that they’ve been made to feel worthless. When there is silence from a Congress too busy to renew…for a decade, it reinforces that sense of worthlessness.”

After Angelina’s speech, Democratic and GOP Congress members announced they had reached a deal to reauthorize VAWA. Democrats said they were pleased with the compromise, but admitted they didn’t achieve everything they wanted. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) referenced the failure to close the “boyfriend loophole,” which allows convicted domestic abusers to own firearms as long as they were never married to the victim, lived with the victim, or shared children with the victim.



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