In a public ceremony in Washington on Thursday, President Obama expanded 1994’s Violence Against Women Act to include federal aid to gay, immigrant and tribal victims, and added more services for all women, the L.A. Times reports.
“We’ll expand to cover even more women, because 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,” Obama said.
The Act strengthens the criminal justice system’s response to crimes against women. A recent survey showed that in 2010, women and girls nationwide experienced about 270,000 rapes or sexual assaults, compared with 556,000 in 1995, numbers that women’s advocacy groups say prove the Act is working.
Still, 1 in 5 women will be raped during their life, Obama said, emphasizing the need for more vigilance.