Support Reauthorization of S. 1925, “The Violence Against Women Act,” and Oppose All Amendments
Recipient: U.S. Senate
On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 210 national organizations to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States, we urge you to support the passage of S.1925, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and vote against any amendments that would weaken this important legislation, including a substitute version of VAWA being offered by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX). VAWA recognizes the pervasive and insidious nature of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking, and provides local, state and tribal authorities with critical tools to support victims of these crimes. Reauthorization of VAWA will enhance our nation’s ability to prosecute perpetrators of violence, while responding to the needs of victims and survivors.
Domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking are forms of violence and harassment that occur in all parts of the nation and affect people of all backgrounds. According to a study by the National Institute of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control, these forms of violence and harassment disproportionately affect minorities. For example, 29.0 percent of African-American women and 12.0 percent of African-American men are victims; 37.5 percent of Native-American women and 12.4 percent of Native-American men are victims; and a staggering 39.2 percent of women and 23.1 percent of men in a same-sex relationship experience intimate-partner victimization.
Law enforcement officers, victim service providers, and health-care professionals have recognized there were gaps in current VAWA programs, leaving lesbian, gay, transgendered, immigrant women, and men without adequate services. S.1925 expands upon the original law and extends additional protections to these communities. For example, the bill adjusts funding formulas to provide services for male victims of violence and increases the number of temporary visas available to immigrant women. Without VAWA reauthorization, these underserved populations will continue to be victims and survivors without the necessary resources to put their lives back together.
Since VAWA’s enactment in 1994, our nation’s response to domestic violence has dramatically increased. More victims report domestic violence to the police and the criminal justice system has responded in kind, improving its ability to keep victims safe. Reporting by victims has gone up by 51 percent while the rate for intimate non-fatal partner violence against women has decreased by 53 percent. Not only do these comprehensive programs save lives, they also save money. In its first six years, VAWA saved $12.6 billion in net averted social costs.
Further, VAWA has provided for a coordinated approach, improving collaboration between law enforcement and victim services providers and supporting community-based responses and direct services for victims. As a result, victims’ needs have been met, perpetrators have been held accountable, communities have become safer, and progress has been made toward breaking the cycle and culture of violence within families. Without question, VAWA reauthorization is the key to ensuring that victims and survivors of violence have continued access to these critical services.
Providing protection for domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking should not be a partisan issue. We look forward to working with you to swiftly reauthorize S. 1925, the Violence Against Women Act, and continue a strong federal response to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. Thank you for your consideration. If you have any questions please feel free to contact Sakira Cook at 202-263-2894 or [email protected] or June Zeitlin at 202-263-2852 or [email protected].
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