Washington, Feb 9 (EFE).- Actress Angelina Jolie’s voice trembled several times on Wednesday as she appeared with US senators before reporters in the US Capitol to discuss how the victims of gender violence or domestic abuse have been waiting for years for Congress to provide them with the help they deserve.
“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,” Jolie said outside a Capitol hearing room surrounded by reporters.
The actress alluded to how four years ago Congress let the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) lapse after for decades it had served to finance programs to aid the victims of domestic and sexual abuse as well as to give them a way to seek justice in the courts.
The law entered into force in 1994 and, on a regular basis, Congress renewed funding to keep it alive and used it to implement protections for certain groups such as members of same-sex couples.
However, in 2019, during the Donald Trump administration, the law was allowed to lapse because Republican lawmakers refused to include protections in it for transgender people.
On Wednesday, Democratic and Republic senators announced that they had reached an agreement whereby a “modernized” version of VAMA can once gain enter into force.
With her presence in Congress, Jolie gave her support to the proposal and urged Congress to approve it as quickly as possible, although she admitted that renewing the law comes too late for many people.
“The reason that many people struggle to leave abusive situations is that they’ve been made to feel worthless,” Jolie said at a press appearance. “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. You think, ‘I guess my abuser is right. I guess I’m not worth very much.'”
She went on to say that passing the law “is one of the most important votes senators will cast this year.”
At one point during her remarks, when she was discussing sexual violence against children, Jolie was overcome with emotion, and she had to stop several times to regain control of herself so that she could continue talking. The legislative chamber remained silent and only the sound of flashbulbs could be heard.
She also mentioned “the many people for whom this legislation comes too late, the women who have suffered through the system with little or no support, who still carry the pain and trauma of their abuse, the young adults who have survived abuse and have emerged stronger, not because of the child protective system but despite it, and the women and children who have died who could have been saved.”
The actress for months has been involved in negotiations within Congress to get VAMA back into force and has managed to get provisions designed to adjust court procedures for child victims of violence included in the revised text.
She has also managed to add a clause that will serve to finance technology designed to recognize bruising on different types of skin, something that is crucial for African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans.
The final text of the law, however, does not include a provision that was key for Democrats and which is known as the “boyfriend loophole.”
Currently, federal law prohibits people convicted of a gender violence crime or domestic abuse from having firearms in their home, but this only applies to people who are married or have a child with their victim, and so Democrats wanted to expand this to cover people who are not married to their victims.
The powerful National Rifle Association, however, mounted a campaign against that idea and managed to get a large number of Republican senators to go along with their demand to drop the provision.