The landmark Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has helped millions of survivors since it was first enacted in 1994, but it has yet to be reauthorized by Congress.
VAWA transformed our nation’s approach to gender-based violence.
VAWA made violent crimes against women a federal priority for the first time in history, transforming our nation’s response to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking and serving as a model for the world. Every five years, VAWA must be reauthorized by Congress. This means that as of September 30, 2018, we are operating without an updated Violence Against Women Act.
Why We Need VAWA
- It provides survivors with essential help, including legal assistance, healthcare, housing, or counseling.
- It has pushed diverse agencies and institutions—such as advocates, police, prosecutors, judges, health care providers and survivors—to work together to address and prevent violence.
- It has been a lifeline for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, covering everything from law enforcement training for working with rape victims, to visas for immigrant women to flee their abusers, to nondiscrimination protections for LGBT survivors of violence, to protections for Native American women victims of violence
In March 2019, VAWA’s reauthorization, H.R. 1585, was introduced in the House and it has since been voted out of the House Judiciary Committee. It’s critical that your Representatives hear from you NOW in support of a strong VAWA. Don’t be fooled by weaker versions of this legislation that are expected to be introduced. H.R. 1585 is supported by service providers and women’s rights advocates across the country. It is the only version of VAWA that includes critical protections for LGBT people and Native American survivors of violence as well as provisions that would prevent violent offenders’ access to firearms. We must fight to pass H.R. 1585.
What a newly authorized VAWA will do:
- Strengthen protections for Native women by returning sovereignty to tribes to prosecute non-native offenders of sexual assault, trafficking, stalking, and child abuse.
- Enhance the housing transfer process for those who need to move based on safety concerns.
- Increase funding for the Rape Prevention & Education Program from $50 million to $150 million in response to increased demand for such programs.
- Add sexual harassment to the “Workplaces Respond to Domestic and Sexual Violence: A National Resource Center,” which provides tools, resources and training to employers.
- Include options for alternatives to incarceration to be funded under the Improving Criminal Justice Response grant program, which focus on victim autonomy, agency and safety to provide resolution and restitution for the victim.
- Improve enforcement of current federal domestic violence-related firearms laws by prohibiting persons convicted of stalking from possessing firearms. It also calls for notifying state and local law enforcement when an abuser fails a background check.