In a new petition on MoveOn.org's online petition website SignOn.org, Sheila Thomas, a rape survivor from Dayton, Ohio urges Congress to extend the Violence Against Women Act. The Act was first introduced in 1994, and strengthened federal penalties for repeat sex offenders, mandated that women don’t have to pay for their own rape exams, and helped communities develop law enforcement units dedicated to violence against women. The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was allowed to expire in 2011, but yesterday the Senate voted to reauthorize the bill. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives where Republican members of Congress have been holding up a vote.
Over 142,000 Join MoveOn.org Petition Urging Congress to Pass the Violence Against Women Act Now
SIGN THE PETITION HERE: http://signon.org/sign/congress-must-extend
In the petition, which has been signed by over 142,000 people so far, Sheila Thomas shares a very personal story about her experiences and the importance of reauthorizing VAWA.
“In 1983, I was a victim of rape at gunpoint,” explained Sheila. “My rapist had already raped four women in my community, I was his fifth victim. He has never been captured. At the time, I was a single mother of a five-year old daughter and attending a local community college."
Sheila continued, "The failure of Congress to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act makes me feel like I'm being victimized all over again; this time, by the very people we sent to Washington DC. I'm angered that those same people will have the audacity ask us to send them back in the upcoming elections. Well, I don't think so. No one asks to be raped. No one asks to be a victim of a violent crime. It feels like our rights as women--as human beings--are not being respected, and that we are being ignored."
Sheila, a Dayton resident, is also a Community College instructor and a proud mother and grandmother.