Obama Signs Violence Against Women Act
PHOTO: President Barack Obama signs the Violence Against Women Act on March 7, 2013, at the Interior Department in Washington, D.C. with, from left, Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Susan Collins, Tysheena Rhames, a trafficking survivor and advocate, House

(Image Credit: Susan Walsh/AP Photo)

President Obama signed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act today, expanding protections for victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault.

"This is a country where everybody should be able to pursue their own measure of happiness and live their lives free from fear, no matter who you are, no matter who you love. That's got to be our priority. That's what today is about," he said at a bill signing ceremony at the Interior Department.

"This is your day. This is the day of the advocates, the day of the survivors. This is your victory," he said. "This victory shows that when the American people make their voices heard, Washington listens."

The renewal of the 1994 legislation, championed by then Sen. Joe Biden, makes it easier to prosecute crimes against women, including domestic violence, sexual assault and trafficking. The bill also extends protections to gays and lesbians and women of Native American tribal lands who are attacked or abused by non-tribal residents.

Obama noted that the bipartisan effort to reauthorize the legislation "makes me feel optimistic."

"We've made incredible progress since 1994. But we cannot let up - not when domestic violence still kills three women a day. Not when one in five women will be a victim of rape in their lifetime. Not when one in three women is abused by a partner," he said.

"I promise you - not just as your president, but as a son, and a husband, and a father - I'm going to keep at this. I know Vice President Biden is going to keep at it. My administration is going to keep at it for as long as it takes," he concluded.

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