Angelina Jolie advocates for US domestic violence law

Actor Angelina Jolie speaks beside members of Congress on the Violence Against Women Act, on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Feb 9, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A bipartisan group of United States senators on Wednesday (Feb 9) agreed a deal to renew a long-lapsed law to strengthen domestic violence protections, just hours after Hollywood actor and humanitarian Angelina Jolie made a tearful speech of support.

Jolie's voice broke as she acknowledged the women and children "for whom this legislation comes too late" in a speech in Washington D.C.

"Standing here at the center of our nation's power, I can think only of everyone who has been made to feel powerless by their abusers by a system that failed to protect them," Jolie, 46, wearing a black suit and pearls, said.

The Violence Against Women Act expired at the end of 2018 and US President Joe Biden, who originally sponsored the bill as a senator in 1994, had campaigned on renewing it.

The House of Representatives approved its renewal in a 244-172 vote almost a year ago, but legislation stalled in Congress amid partisan disputes over access to guns and transgender issues.

"The reason many people struggle to leave abusive situations is that they have been made to feel worthless. When there is silence from a Congress too busy to renew the Violence Against Women Act for a decade, it reinforces that sense of worthlessness," said Jolie. "You think, I guess my abuser is right. I guess I'm not worth very much."

The Eternals star had accused her ex-husband Brad Pitt of intentionally hitting their son Maddox, then 15 - although Pitt has been cleared of the allegations.

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