Rolling Back Protections for Domestic Violence Victims
Ed. Note: This is the first in a series of posts on the importance of strengthening the Violence Against Women Act.  Additional posts will follow on addressing violence against Native women and LGBT victims. Since 1994, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has been an essential tool in helping to protect victims of domestic and sexual violence.  While seeking to improve criminal justice and community-based responses to victims of abuse, VAWA ultimately changed the landscape for those previously left to suffer in silence.     Since then, Congress – on a bipartisan basis -- has repeatedly shown its commitment to preserving and enhancing the core goals of VAWA by increasing protections in all subsequent VAWA reauthorizations. This was recently demonstrated by the Senate’s VAWA reauthorization bill  (S. 1925) introduced by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) that passed last month on a vote of 68 to 31, with strong bipartisan support. S. 1925 was introduced after months of input from a wide range of stakeholders. Unfortunately, Republican leaders in the House have taken a different approach, with the introduction of H.R. 4970, a bill authored by Rep. Sandy Adams (FL-24), that actually rolls back protections for victims of domestic violence. On Tuesday, on a vote of 17-15, House Republicans passed this measure out of the House Judiciary Committee, without properly considering the cross-jurisdictional sections that provide for protections on tribal lands, in federal housing programs, and on college campuses around the country.  The Adams bill adds burdensome, counter-productive requirements that compromise the ability of service providers to reach victims, fails to adequately protect Tribal victims, lacks important protection and services for LGBT victims, weakens resources for victims living in subsidized housing, and eliminates important improvements to address dating violence and sexual assault on college campuses.  Among the most troubling components of this bill are those that jettison and drastically undercut existing and important, long-standing protections that remain vital to the safety and protection of battered immigrant victims.   read more
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