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Violence Against Women Act

Violence Against Women Act

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The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA) is a United States federal law. It was passed as Title IV, sec. 40001-40703 of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, , and signed as by President Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

 on September 13, 1994. It provided $1.6 billion to enhance investigation and prosecution of violent crimes perpetrated against women, imposed automatic and mandatory restitution on those convicted, and allowed civil redress in cases prosecutors chose to leave unprosecuted.

VAWA was drafted by then-U.S. Senator Joseph R. Biden's office with support from a number of advocacy organizations including the National Network to End Domestic Violence, the Texas Council on Family Violence, Futures Without Violence, National Coalition Against Sexual Assault, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Legal Momentum
Legal Momentum
Legal Momentum, formerly known as NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund, is the oldest legal advocacy group for women in the United States. Founded in 1970, Legal Momentum is a liberal multi-issue organization dedicated to advancing women’s rights across the country...

 and The National Organization for Women
National Organization for Women
The National Organization for Women is the largest feminist organization in the United States. It was founded in 1966 and has a membership of 500,000 contributing members. The organization consists of 550 chapters in all 50 U.S...

, which described the bill as "the greatest breakthrough in civil rights for women in nearly two decades."

VAWA was reauthorized by Congress in 2000, and again in December 2005.

The Office on Violence Against Women
Office on Violence Against Women
The Office on Violence Against Women , a component of the U.S. Department of Justice, provides national leadership in developing the nation's capacity to reduce violence against women through the implementation of the Violence Against Women Act ....

 was statutorily established within the United States Department of Justice
United States Department of Justice
The United States Department of Justice , is the United States federal executive department responsible for the enforcement of the law and administration of justice, equivalent to the justice or interior ministries of other countries.The Department is led by the Attorney General, who is nominated...

 following the passage of the reauthorization of VAWA in 2000. It has the authority to administer some the grants authorized under VAWA, as well as develop federal policy around issues relating to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The Office is led by a Director whose appointment has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate. VAWA also increased funding for direct services for victims of domestic violence through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

VAWA will be up for reauthorization in 2011.

Background


The World Conference on Human Rights
World Conference on Human Rights
The World Conference on Human Rights was held by the United Nations in Vienna, Austria, on 14 to 25 June 1993. It was the first human rights conference held since the end of the Cold War...

, held in Vienna in 1993, and the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women
Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women
The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women was adopted without vote by the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution 48/104 of 20 December 1993. Contained within it is the recognition of "the urgent need for the universal application to women of the rights and principles...

 in the same year, concluded that civil society and governments have acknowledged that domestic violence is a public health policy and human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

 concern.

The Violence Against Women Act was developed and passed as a result of extensive grassroots efforts in the late 80's and early 1990s, with advocates and professionals from the battered women's movement, sexual assault advocates, victim services field, law enforcement agencies, prosecutors' offices, the courts, and the private bar urging Congress to adopt significant legislation to address domestic and sexual violence. Since its original passage in 1994, VAWA's focus has expanded from domestic violence and sexual assault to also include dating violence and stalking. It funds services to protect adult, teen, and child victims of these crimes, and supports training on these issues, to ensure consistent responses across the country. One of the greatest successes of VAWA is its emphasis on a coordinated community response to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking; courts, law enforcement, prosecutors, victim services, and the private bar currently work together in a coordinated effort that had not heretofore existed on the state and local levels. VAWA also supports the work of community-based organizations that are engaged in work to end domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking, particularly those groups that provide culturally and linguistically specific services. Additionally, VAWA provides specific support for work with tribes and tribal organizations to end domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking against Indian women.

Many grant programs authorized in VAWA have been funded by the U.S. Congress. The following grant programs, which are administered primarily through the Office on Violence Against Women in the U.S. Department of Justice have received appropriations from Congress:

STOP Grants (State Formula Grants); Transitional Housing Grants; Grants to Encourage Arrest and Enforce Protection Orders; Court Training and Improvement Grants; Research on Violence Against Indian Women; National Tribal Sex Offender Registry; Stalker Reduction Database; Federal Victim Assistants; Sexual Assault Services Program; Services for Rural Victims; Civil Legal Assistance for Victims; Elder Abuse Grant Program; Protections and Services for Disabled Victims; Combating Abuse in Public Housing; National Resource Center on Workplace Responses; Violence on College Campuses Grants; Safe Havens Project; Services for Children and Youth Exposed to Violence; Engaging Men and Youth in Prevention.

Debate and legal standing


The American Civil Liberties Union
American Civil Liberties Union
The American Civil Liberties Union is a U.S. non-profit organization whose stated mission is "to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States." It works through litigation, legislation, and...

 had originally expressed concerns about the Act, saying that the increased penalties were rash, the increased pretrial detention was "repugnant" to the US Constitution, the mandatory HIV testing of those only charged but not convicted is an infringement of a citizen’s right to privacy and the edict for automatic payment of full restitution was non-judicious (see their paper: "Analysis of Major Civil Liberties Abuses in the Crime Bill Conference Report as Passed by the House and the Senate", dated September 29, 1994). However, the ACLU has supported reauthorization of VAWA on the condition that the "unconstitutional DNA provision" be removed.

The ACLU, in their July 27, 2005 'Letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee Regarding the Violence Against Women Act of 2005, S. 1197' stated that "VAWA is one of the most effective pieces of legislation enacted to end domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. It has dramatically improved the law enforcement response to violence against women and has provided critical services necessary to support women and children in their struggle to overcome abusive situations."

In 2000, in a controversial 5–4 vote, the Supreme Court of the United States
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 held part of VAWA unconstitutional in United States v. Morrison
United States v. Morrison
United States v. Morrison, is a United States Supreme Court decision which held that parts of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 were unconstitutional because they exceeded congressional power under the Commerce Clause and under section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.-...

 on federalism grounds. Only the civil rights remedy of VAWA was struck down. The provisions providing program funding were unaffected.

Programs and services


The Violence Against Women laws provide programs and services, including:
  • Community violence prevention programs
  • Protections for victims who are evicted from their homes because of events related to domestic violence or stalking
  • Funding for victim assistance services, like rape crisis centers and hotlines
  • Programs to meet the needs of immigrant women and women of different races or ethnicities
  • Programs and services for victims with disabilities
  • Legal aid for survivors of violence
  • Services for children and teens

See also

  • Child Protective Services
    Child Protective Services
    Child Protective Services is the name of a governmental agency in many states of the United States that responds to reports of child abuse or neglect. Some states use other names, often attempting to reflect more family-centered practices, such as "Department of Children & Family Services"...

  • Domestic violence
    Domestic violence
    Domestic violence, also known as domestic abuse, spousal abuse, battering, family violence, and intimate partner violence , is broadly defined as a pattern of abusive behaviors by one or both partners in an intimate relationship such as marriage, dating, family, or cohabitation...

  • Rape culture
    Rape culture
    Rape culture is a term which originated in women's studies and feminist theory, describing a culture in which rape and sexual violence against women are common and in which prevalent attitudes, norms, practices, and media condone, normalize, excuse, or tolerate sexual violence against women...

  • Relationship Education
    Relationship Education
    Relationship education presents and promotes the principles and practices of premarital education, relationship resources, relationship restoration, relationship maintenance, and research-based marriage preparation.-History:...

  • United States v. Morrison
    United States v. Morrison
    United States v. Morrison, is a United States Supreme Court decision which held that parts of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 were unconstitutional because they exceeded congressional power under the Commerce Clause and under section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.-...

  • Violence against women
    Violence against women
    Violence against women is a technical term used to collectively refer to violent acts that are primarily or exclusively committed against women...

  • International Violence Against Women Act
    International Violence Against Women Act
    The International Violence Against Women Act is proposed legislation to address violence against women through United States foreign policy...


External links