Outside/In: Everybody Knows Somebody

The story of the passage of the Violence Against Women Act starts with a young legal aide to Sen. Joe Biden who did not identify as a feminist and knew little about the issues, but whose methodical building of a coalition and a set of arguments led to the historic passage of the law in 1994. VAWA was the first U.S. federal law to address comprehensively the ancient problem of gender-based violence. A key provision, authorizing federal civil lawsuits by victims, helped many women for six years until the Supreme Court struck it down. The law's other effects, still ongoing, include funding victim-aid groups.

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