The landmark Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has helped millions of survivors since it was first enacted in 1994, but the Republican-controlled Senate blocked its reauthorization for years. With a Biden-Harris Administration, we have a chance to finally get this done.
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 have been operating without an updated Violence Against Women Act.
The NRA has opposed VAWA and too many Senators listened.
Every month in the U.S., an average of 50 women are shot to death by an intimate partner. Yet the NRA came out in full force to block passage of the historically bipartisan Violence Against Women Act. Why? Simply because it will strengthen laws preventing convicted domestic violence abusers and stalkers from possessing firearms. For 25 years, federal law has prohibited these abusers from having guns. VAWA will simply update the law to include dating abusers and stalkers, closing the “boyfriend loophole.”
The NRA, and too many of our Senators, have lost their moral compass. Prioritizing access to guns at all costs does not make any sense, especially in this age of ever-increasing mass shootings. The data clearly shows that the more guns and less regulations we have, the more people that will die as a result. Common sense gun safety laws are needed. So are the protections of the Violence Against Women Act, which serves millions of survivors of violence across the country every single year for less than one-tenth of one percent of our federal budget.
Why We Need VAWA (just in case you need more reasons):
- VAWA provides survivors with essential help, including legal assistance, healthcare, housing, or counseling.
- VAWA 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.
- VAWA 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.
Here’s what you can say:
A strong Violence Against Women Act (H.R. 1585-116th Congress-2019-20) was already passed by the House. As your constituent, I am asking you to take immediate action before more women’s lives are lost to gun violence and survivors of domestic violence and abuse are unable to access the housing, help and counseling they need. The landmark Violence Against Women Act serves millions of survivors across the country for a fractional amount of our federal budget. Why can’t we pass a strong VAWA NOW?
I’m asking you to commit to passing a Violence Against Women Act that includes the essential updates made in H.R. 1585 in 2019. Will you take action now?
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.