Fact Sheet: Violence Against Women Act II
In 1994, Congress passed and the President signed landmark
legislation to fight violence against women. The Violence Against Women
Act (VAWA) established new criminal provisions and key grant programs that
improve the criminal and civil justice systems' response to domestic
violence, sexual assault and stalking, and direct critical services to
victims. This comprehensive law sent a clear message across the nation:
violence against women is not only wrong, it is a crime. In the past six
years, the Violence Against Women Act has protected the safety of
countless women and held offenders accountable for their actions.
But there is still much work to be done. Violence still
devastates the lives of too many women and children. Nearly one-third of
women murdered each year are killed by their intimate partners. Violence
by intimates accounts for over 20% of all violent crime against women
America. Women were raped and sexually assaulted 307,000 times in 1998
alone, and approximately one million women are stalked each year.
Congress must act now to pass the Violence Against Women Act II
(VAWA II) with the following key measures to sustain and increase our
efforts to combat violence against women:
I. Secure and strengthen key VAWA grant programs
In passing VAWA II, Congress should reauthorize and improve the
VAWA grant programs to help keep victims safe and hold offenders
II. Strengthen federal law enforcement's ability to protect all
- Reauthorize VAWA grant programs: In the past six years, more
billion in VAWA grant funds have created a national domestic violence
hotline and supported the work of prosecutors, law enforcement officials,
the courts, victim advocates, health care and social service
professionals, and intervention and prevention program staff. Unless
Congress extends these programs now, the authorizations for nearly all of
VAWA's critical grant programs will expire this year.
- Ensure that VAWA grant programs cover victims in dating
Today, some jurisdictions may not use VAWA grant funds to target dating
violence. New Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) data confirm that dating
violence is a serious problem: the highest rates of domestic violence are
among young persons ages 16 - 24, and more than four in ten incidents of
domestic violence involve non-married partners. Our laws must provide
these victims with access to services targeting their needs.
- Direct critical resources toward victims who are traditionally
underserved. Some victims, including those who are elderly or
live in rural areas, speak little or no English, or come from diverse
cultural and religious backgrounds, face particular difficulties when they
seek services. We must ensure that VAWA grant programs reach out to these
- Support monitoring and stewardship of the shelter program. A
1.5% of the battered women's shelter program is essential to extend
monitoring and stewardship activities. The additional staff resources and
technical assistance capacity are critically needed and will result in
enhanced sharing of information and best practices and improved monitoring
of federal resources.
- Set aside 5% of Justice Department grant funds for tribes.
A recent BJS
study estimated that the rate of violent crime against Native American
women is more than twice that committed against women generally. We must
direct resources to tribes so that they can provide culturally appropriate
assistance to victims in their communities and hold offenders accountable.
- Provide critical support for key programs. Legislation is
continue or strengthen programs targeted at judges and courts, the
Domestic Violence Victims' Civil Legal Assistance Program, and the Grants
to Combat Violent Crimes Against Women on Campuses.
VAWA and subsequent legislation authorized federal law enforcement
officials to investigate and prosecute interstate domestic violence,
stalking, violations of proction orders, and related firearms violations.
Over 250 prosecutions have been brought under these provisions. Now we
must close loopholes that hamper our ability to most effectively prosecute
these crimes and strengthen these laws to better protect Native American
victims and those in dating relationships.
III. Protect immigrant women and children from domestic violence
VAWA included important protections for battered immigrant women
that lessened the ability of abusers to use immigration laws to coerce,
control, or intimidate them. Unfortunately, new federal laws have
inadvertently undermined these provisions. VAWA II would restore these
IV. Enhance the efficacy of protection orders
VAWA requires states and territories to give full faith and credit
to protection orders issued by other jurisdictions. VAWA II would
eliminate some persisting barriers to enforcement of such orders and would
facilitate enforcement of tribal protection orders. In addition, VAWA II
would remove a financial obstacle by requiring STOP grant recipients to
ensure that victims do not have to pay filing or service costs for
protection orders in both civil and criminal cases.
VI. Ensure that children remain in the custody of non-abusive
VAWA II contains two measures to reduce the impact of domestic violence on
children. First, it helps victims who flee abuse to obtain custody orders without
returning to dangerous jurisdictions. Second, it would establish grants for
supervised visitation centers. These centers protect victims and their children,
and minimize the danger of parental abduction, by providing secure environments
for visitation and exchange of children.