Groups demand action on Violence Against Women Act

WASHINGTON: Women's advocacy group UltraViolet and grassroots organization MoveOn.org have turned to FitzGibbon Media to implement a communications effort urging Congress to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.

WASHINGTON: Women's advocacy group UltraViolet and grassroots organization MoveOn.org have turned to FitzGibbon Media to implement a communications effort urging Congress to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.

The campaign encompasses media outreach, grassroots communications, and paid media. Earlier this month, the US Senate renewed the law, and expanded its protections to include immigrants; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered individuals; and Native Americans.

The bill is now in the House of Representatives, where Republican members of Congress have held up a vote because some members have been reluctant to expand protections to the new groups. Republicans have also introduced their own version of the law.

In the last few weeks, UltraViolet and MoveOn.org have contended that these groups should be included in the legislation. The act provides funding for the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women, and imposes automatic and mandatory restitution on those convicted.

“They're saying that there are some people who don't deserve protection from abuse,” said Nita Chaudhary, co-founder of UltraViolet.

Nearly one in three lesbians and half of bisexual women have experienced severe physical violence from an intimate partner, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey.

Late last week, FitzGibbon Media highlighted the story of Sheila Thomas, a grandmother and rape survivor, who presented a petition with 217,000 signatures to Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH). It urged the House GOP to stop blocking the Violence Against Women Act and to expand coverage to new groups. She was joined by members of MoveOn.org.

This week, FitzGibbon Media plans to introduce an ad and continue grassroots work and media outreach.

The firm acknowledged that it has a lot of noise to break through.

“There has been a lot going on between the fiscal cliff and now the sequestration, so it's been a challenge to bring this issue to the forefront in a very crowded news space,” said Doug Gordon, MD at the firm. “But this is a really important issue and deserves attention.”

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