The following are some bills that have been passed as law.
In March 2022, the bipartisan legislation was included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022. President Joe Biden signed it on Wednesday, March 16, 2022, and celebrated the passage of the VAWA Reauthorization Act.
“The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization provides much-needed resources for survivors, programs, and communities. It will give survivors greater access to safety, justice, and services on their path to healing after abuse, and we are deeply grateful to the Senate and House leadership and our bipartisan champions for its passage.” – Deborah J. Vagins, NNEDV President & CEO
Thanks to everyone who contacted their legislators to support this bill. See more here.
In February 2022, Congress passed this Act of 2021, meaning employers can no longer mandate pre-dispute arbitration for claims of sexual assault or sexual harassment by employers. President Biden is expected to sign the Act into law.
Bills to Curb Human Trafficking, Protect Victims Now Law
In June 2021 PA Governor Wolf signed numerous bills intending to support survivors, promote fair prosecutions, and enhance rehabilitation to decrease repeat Human Trafficking crimes. See information about these bills on Greenlight Operations legislative website at www.greenlightoperation.org/legislation/
Protecting Children from Abuse (Act 42 of 2021)
This law will help stop child abuse by simply improving communications among agencies charged with investigating the crime. Act 42 signed by PA Governor Wolf in June 2021 allows law enforcement agencies to share information relevant to an allegation or instance of abuse with entities required by the Child Protective Services Law (CPSL) to investigate such abuse.
Protecting Victims of Rape and their Children – (Act 95 ) signed into law
On October 29, 2020, Act 95 was signed into law to better protect victims of rape and incest–who may also be sex trafficked–from giving child custody rights to their rapists.
End Child Marriage – HB 360 signed into law
On May 8, 2020, PA Governor Wolf signed into law bill HB360 to end child marriage before the age of 18. PA is now the 3rd state (with Delaware & New Jersey) to pass this bill into law and the only state thus far to pass it with a unanimous vote in both the House and the Senate. Now, the minimum age of 18 is the law with no exceptions. For more information about the efforts to get other states to also pass this legislation, see the Unchained At Last website at www.unchainedatlast.org.
On June 26, 2019, Zonta members joined the Unchained At Last rally held at the Capitol to support an end to child marriage in the state. The key speaker was Fraidy Reiss, Executive Director of Unchained At Last, a survivor of a forced marriage.
Zonta International is working to launch a national Public Service Announcement (PSA) billboard campaign to stop child marriages in the United States, in partnership with UNICEF USA.
Senate Bill 60 (Buyer Beware Act) signed into law
On February 5, 2020, PA Governor Tom Wolf signed Senate Bill 60 into law, which will further protect victims of human trafficking and increase the penalty for traffickers and patrons of trafficking victims. This bill is designed to combat human trafficking by targeting the root of the problem–the demand. The people who buy sex and utilize force labor fuel the industry, creating an unending line of revenue for traffickers. Legislation is needed to redirect punishment from the trafficking survivors to those who buy and sell them.
House Bill 315 (Female Mutilation) passes
In June 2019, PA Governor Tom Wolf signed into law House Bill 315 that Representative Murt has submitted for many years making female mutilation a felony of the first degree (imprisonment up to 20 years and a fine not to exceed $25,000). This bill amends the Crimes Code by adding a new section 3132 called Female Mutilation and defines the offenses. Representative Thomas Murt diligently addressed this issue at each of our “Zonta Says NO to Violence Against Women” rallies for six years. Thank you, Congressman Wurt, for your steadfast efforts in getting this bill finally passed.
The Safe Harbor Bill (SB 554) Passes
In October, 2018, The Safe Harbor Bill was passed by both PA houses and became law with PA Governor Tom Wolf’s signature.
Sponsored by Senator Greenleaf, The Safe Harbor Bill SB554 was created to provide immunity to sexually exploited juveniles and will treat them as victims instead of criminals. It will provide these young girls with the assistance of restoration instead of incarceration. It protects juvenile victims from potential prosecution by diverting them into appropriate human service programs instead of the criminal justice system and establishes the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund. In turn, victims are now able to receive specialized trauma health care and therapy.
In this picture, Zonta members advocated for the passage of this bill in December 2017.
The end of Human Trafficking is a cause that Zonta International has advocated for since 2002.