ODVN Celebrates the Passage of The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
New law will safely and effectively meet the needs of more victims
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is the cornerstone of our nation's response to domestic and sexual violence. A strong bipartisan bill to reauthorize VAWA (S. 47) passed in the Senate on February 12, 2013 (78-22) and in the House of Representatives on February 28, 2013 (286-138). President Obama signed the bill into law on March 7, 2013.
What will this renewal of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) change?
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has improved our nation's response to violence. However, not all victims have been protected or reached. VAWA 2013 will close critical gaps in services and justice. VAWA 2013 reauthorized and improved upon lifesaving services for all victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking - including Native women, immigrants, LGBT victims, college students and youth, and public housing residents.
VAWA 2013 also authorized appropriate funding to provide for VAWA's vitally important programs and protections, without imposing limitations that undermine effectiveness or victim safety.
Justice and safety for Native American Women: Native American victims of domestic violence often cannot seek justice because their courts are not allowed to prosecute non-Native offenders -- even for crimes committed on Tribal land. This major gap in justice, safety, and violence prevention must be addressed. VAWA 2013 includes a solution that would give Tribal courts the authority they need to hold offenders in their communities accountable.
Justice and safety for LGBT survivors: Lesbian, gay, bisexul and transgender survivors of violence experience the same rates of violence as straight individuals. However, LGBT survivors sometimes face discrimination when seeking help and protection. VAWA 2013 prohibits such discrimination to ensure that all victims of violence have access to the same services and protection to overcome trauma and find safety.
Safe housing for survivors: Landmark VAWA housing protections that were passed in 2005 have helped prevent discrimination against and unjust evictions of survivors of domestic violence in public and assisted housing. The law, however, did not cover all federally subsidized housing programs. VAWA 2013 expands these protections to individuals in all federally subsidized housing programs, explicitly protects victims of sexual assault and creates emergency housing transfer options.
Protections for immigrant survivors: VAWA 2013 maintains important protections for immigrant survivors of abuse, while also making key improvements to existing provisions including by strengthening the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act and the provisions around self-petitions and U visas.
Justice on campuses: College students are mong thos emost vulnerable to dating violence. Provisions in VAWA 2013 add additional protections for students by requiring schools to implement a recording process for incidences of dating violence, as well as report the findings. In addition, schools would be required to create plans to prevent this violence and educate victims on their rights and resources.
Maintaining VAWA grant programs: VAWA grants are effectively meeting the needs of millions of victims across the country. VAWA 2013 includes many important improvements to these grant programs, including allowing state domestic violence coalitions to be the lead applicant on the Grants to Encourage Arrest program; ensuring that specific stakeholders, including domestic violence coalitions, play a meaningful role in developing state STOP plans; and providing a formal process for the Office on Violence Against Women to receive coalition and other key domestic violence and sexual assault community input.
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is effective and important:
VAWA creates and supports comprehensive, cost-effective responses to the pervasive and insidious crimes of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking. Since its enactment in 1994, VAWA programs, administered by the Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Health and Human Services (HHS), have dramatically improved federal, tribal, state, and local responses to these crimes.
- There has been as much as a 51% increase in reporting by women and a 37% increase in reporting by men.
- The number of individuals killed by an intimate partner has decreased by 34% for women and 57% for men, and the rate of non-fatal intimate partner violence against women has decreased by 67%.
- VAWA not only saves lives, it saves money. In its first six years alone, VAWA saved taxpayers at least $12.6 billion in net averted social costs. A recent study found that civil protection orders saved one state (Kentucky) on average $85 million in a single year.