The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), first enacted in 1994 with broad bipartisan support, is a landmark legislation that has been instrumental in addressing and responding to gender-based violence. As a result of the reauthorizations of VAWA over the years in 2000, 2005, and 2013 with bipartisan support, critical features have been preserved ensuring stronger victim protection and improved offender accountability. We now have an obligation to do so again with The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA) OF 2018 (H.R. 6545) which builds on over two decades of progress. With each iteration of VAWA, Congress responds to emerging issues brought forward by advocates on the ground.
Gender-based violence negatively impacts all communities across the United States. VAWA provides training to law enforcement and support for survivors through intervention and prevention-based services. As a seminal piece of legislation, VAWA shifted the conversation of domestic violence from being a private matter to one of public discourse. VAWA created policies that protect survivors of all forms of gender-based violence and ensured funding was available to meet some very critical needs of survivors. This helped survivors come out of the shadows and get support from the justice system and community-based programs.
The current bill H.R.6545 sponsored by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) provides critical improvements that will strengthen housing protections, ensure that abusers can’t access firearms, end impunity for non-Native offenders of sexual assault on Tribal land, and increase funding for rape prevention education. It provides law enforcement with new tools to protect communities and provides resources to implement evidence-based prevention programming, making all communities safer.
It was introduced in late July 2018 but then the House went on recess. When they return on September 4th, they will only have a few weeks before the law expires. As advocates serving South Asian survivors we see the devastating impact of gender-based violence, including the lack of affordable housing, exploitation, child abduction and trafficking.
The protections under VAWA have been a lifeline to so many of the survivors we have worked with over the years. Therefore, it is critical that VAWA is reauthorized to ensure that these protections, while limited, continue to be available. We are grateful that VAWA strives to meet the emerging needs of survivors across the country.
VAWA has always been and should continue to be bipartisan. Domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking do not discriminate and impact all communities. Join us in asking every member of the House of Representatives to sign on to co-sponsor the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act of 2018. We must strive to maintain existing protections to ensure survivors of gender-based violence get equal access to services, support and justice.
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Organize in your community, campus, place of worship against gender-based violence.
Apna Ghar, Inc.
Arizona South Asians For Safe Families
ASHA for Women
SAAPRI – South Asian American Policy & Research Institute
Sadhana Coalition of Progressive Hindus
Sakhi for South Asian Women
South Asian Network (SAN)
South Asian Helpline and Referral Agency
South Asian Youth Action (SAYA)
Turning Point for Women and Families
Women for Afghan Women (WAW)
Hotline: 1(732) 435-1414
An Organization for South Asian Women