Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013by Representative Raúl M. Grijalva
Posted on 2013-02-28
GRIJALVA. Madam Speaker, I rise today to express my support for
the Senate-approved Violence Against Women Act reauthorization bill
known as S. 47 and to explain my concerns about its counterpart in the
Since it was first authorized in 1994, VAWA has supported countless victims of domestic violence, stalking, dating violence and sexual assault. VAWA-funded programs have provided housing and legal services to survivors across the country. The law has provided police and nonprofit organizations the resources they need to investigate more cases and prosecute those responsible. Over time, VAWA has progressively protected more Americans, including seniors and Americans with disabilities.
VAWA has meant tangible successes in the fight against domestic and other forms of violence. Reporting of these incidents has increased by 51 percent since 1994, when we first passed the law.
S. 47 builds on these successes by adding protections for immigrants, Native Americans, and LGBT Americans. Under this measure, Native Americans will be able to effectively address sexual violence in their own communities. U-Visa holders will receive new legal protections against stalking. LGBT Americans will be added to the measure's non- discrimination clause. More funding will be given to college campus programs that combat human trafficking and sexual assault.
I applaud my colleagues in the Senate for passing this strong measure 78 to 22 with bipartisan support.
Unfortunately, my colleagues introduced a weaker and unacceptable House version of S. 47 last week. It removes the necessary protections for Native Americans, immigrants, and LGBT Americans and weakens the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and the SAFER Act.
As lawmakers, we must cement protections for every American harmed by sexual violence--regardless of race, sexual orientation, or country of origin.
As discussions of VAWA conclude this week, I urge my colleagues to support the Senate bill, and to accept no substitute for a strong, inclusive final product.
Ms. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON of Texas. Madam Speaker, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has historically provided a vast network of support for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking since its initial passage in 1994. As the House considers the reauthorization of these critical protections, Members of Congress will have to choose between two vastly disparate futures for the women of our Nation.
In one future, the House extends these important protections for all Americans by approving the Senate-passed reauthorization of VAWA, S. 47. This bipartisan bill not only extends the protections afforded to women under previous reauthorizations, but also expands those protections to LGBT individuals, Native Americans, and immigrants. In this future, abusive partners and perpetrators of violence are swiftly brought to justice as Congress builds upon the successes of VAWA, and incorporates new and innovative approaches to combating violence against women.
However, in a harshly dissimilar future that could be realized through the passage of the House substitute bill, only select groups of battered and abused women are protected [[Page H798]] from violence or sexual assault. In this dismal scenario, college students, Native Americans, LGBT individuals, and others are left to fend for themselves against their attackers. In this future, perpetrators may remain confident that the strain on limited law enforcement resources will prevent them from being prosecuted for these gross violations of the law. This is not the future that I would want to envision for these victims of violence.
Madam Speaker, the Senate-passed version of the VAWA reauthorization is the result of extensive deliberation and consultation with real victims of violence, law enforcement personnel, and outside organizations that specialize in combating domestic violence and abuse. This Congress must vote to pass S. 47 immediately if we are to stand behind the women of this Nation, and send a strong message that these acts will not be tolerated. Every victim of domestic violence in America deserves equal protection under the law, and the House substitute to VAWA does not acknowledge the pervasiveness and severity of the violence that women must face each and every day.
Mrs. CAROLYN B. MALONEY of New York. Madam Speaker, I rise in support of the Senate version of the Violence Against Women Act. According to the US Department of Justice, in 2007 intimate partners committed 14 percent of all the homicides in the United States.
In 2007, of all the deaths caused by Intimate Partner Violence, 70 percent were females and 30% were males.
In 2008, females age 12 or older experienced about 552,000 nonfatal violent victimizations by an intimate partner.
From 1994 to 2010, about 4 in 5 victims of intimate partner violence were female.
All those numbers are all real. And so are the tragedies behind them. The body count is indisputable. The pain--the suffering--the loss--are hard to bear even in our imaginings.
And the damaging effect on the children that witnessed such acts of violence--lingers into future generations--spreading its toxic effects.
Grim facts like these are why the Violence Against Women Act was originally passed: Women were dying--disproportionately--from intimate partner violence. Women were the ones being beaten. Women were the ones being raped. And the ordinary efforts of law enforcement at the time-- were simply not able to keep them safe.
More needed to be done to stop the plague of violence. And that is why the Violence Against Women Act was passed with strong bi-partisan support. And was re-authorized--again--with strong bi-partisan support.
And yet somehow--in this sad new world of partisan politics and endless rancor--the simple reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act has become a political football. A way--not to save lives--or keep women and children safe--but to score points--to win a game.
But this is not about politics--this is about the single most fundamental task that we require of our government--keep it's citizens safe from violent assault.
That is what the Violence Against Women Act is about--keeping people safe--people who are at clearly demonstrable risk.
And in America--we have long stood by the principle that the protections of the law are not meant just for some--not just for those who may be in greater favor or hold greater sway. But the law should be there to keep all people safe. Period.
And yet--our Republican colleagues have seen fit to weaken the Violence Against Women Act and strip from the Senate version of the bill--new protections for populations that we know beyond dispute have been victimized by intimate partner violence--and are in need of protection.
We know that long standing prejudices put these populations at risk. We know that without the specific protection of the law--they will continue to suffer. And yet these protections have been stripped.
And we know beyond question--there are estimates that hundreds of thousands of rape kits are sitting on shelves un-tested--and that each and everyone of those rape kits may hold the information that will solve a violent crime--and bring some closure to a traumatized victim.
And yet our Republican colleagues weakened the bill and ripped from the VAWA a provision which I sponsored, that would help state and local governments conduct audits of those rape kits with no new spending.
The SAFER Act (H.R. 354) would also have provided a measure of open government and public accountability, by requiring audit grantees to issue regular public reports that detail the progress they have made in clearing the rape kit backlog.
Additionally, it would have allowed the National Institute of Justice to publish a set of non-binding protocols and practices to provide guidance in cases that include DNA evidence. And yet the Republicans chose to weaken the bill and take that out.
We also know that recent studies have shown that 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted during her college years.
That grim statistic is made even worse by the fact that a study of sexual assaults on campuses, showed that even though victims' may be profoundly traumatized, the students deemed `responsible' for the sexual assaults typically faced little in the way of real consequences.
How then, could Republican's in the House also strip from the Senate version of the Violence Against Women Act, The Campus Save Act (H.R. 812), another provision I offered that would increase the obligations of colleges to keep students safe and informed about policies on sexual assault? To keep your daughters safer, the bill would also have required colleges to collect and disclose information about sexual assault; and to update and expand existing domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking services on their campuses. And yet Republicans chose again-- to weaken the bill--and to take that out.
To turn a blind eye to such a fundamental obligation of government-- to simply keep its citizens safe from sexual assault--is to throw up your hands and surrender to a level of savagery that is unworthy of a great nation.
Let's Renew VAWA Today (By Carolyn Maloney) Today, Congress has an historic opportunity to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). It has been more than 500 days since VAWA expired and women have gone without critically important protections. Despite the fact that last year the Senate voted on a large bipartisan basis to renew VAWA, the House Republican leadership blocked a vote on that bill and instead pursued a highly partisan plan that actually narrowed VAWA's protections.
Last week, the Senate again passed a bipartisan bill (S. 47) to reauthorize VAWA and today my colleagues and I in the House may finally get the vote we have been waiting for. The Senate bill renews and expands VAWA's protections and also includes several new provisions I have been pushing for years to help rape victims, reduce violence on college campuses and assist human trafficking victims.
The facts are indisputable and they are grim. Women are far more likely than men to be the victims of domestic violence. Women are the ones being beaten. Women are the ones being raped. Without VAWA, the federal government is extremely limited in what it can do help combat this plague of violence.
I was proud to be an original cosponsor of the Violence Against Women Act when Congress passed it in 1994, and was proud to support the previous renewals in 2000 and 2005. These bills always enjoyed large, bipartisan support.
Yet somehow in this sad new world of partisan politics and endless rancor, even the Violence Against Women Act has become a political football. But this is not about politics. It is about the single most fundamental task that we require of our government--to keep its citizens safe from violent assault.
In America, we have long stood by the principle that the protections of the law are not meant just for some. The law should be there to keep all people safe. That is why I support the Senate bill's expansion of VAWA to protect vulnerable populations such as Native American victims, LGBT victims, and immigrant victims.
We know that long standing prejudices put these populations at risk. We know that without the specific protection of the law, they will continue to suffer. We cannot let these protections fall by the wayside.
I'm also incredibly proud that the Senate's VAWA bill includes two bipartisan bills I authored that will help keep women safe and do not cost any new money--The SAFER Act (H.R. 354), which I introduced with Rep. Ted Poe, and the Campus SaVE Act (H.R. 812).
According to some estimates, hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits are sitting on lab shelves across the country. Each and every one of these rape kits may hold the information to solve a violent crime and bring some closure to a traumatized victim. By creating a new grant mechanism to conduct audits of unprocessed kits so that the backlog can be tracked and reallocating funding already approved under the Debbie Smith Act so that more money is spent processing untested rape kits, the SAFER Act will help eliminate this backlog--and apprehend more rapists.
My other bill included in the Senate's VAWA version, the Campus SaVE Act, will increase the obligations of colleges to keep students safe and informed about sexual assault policies. Recent studies have shown that 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted during their college years. To keep our daughters safer, the bill requires colleges to collect and disclose information about sexual assault, and to update and expand domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking services on their campuses.
The Senate bill also reauthorizes the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, providing programs and services to help victims of human trafficking rebuild their lives. For years I have fought to end human trafficking in America and around the globe and I commend the Senate for including this amendment to end this modern day slavery.
[[Page H799]] When the House considers the Violence Against Women Act later today I will urge my colleagues to pass the Senate bill with the same overwhelming bipartisan support it received in the other chamber. We cannot turn a blind eye to such a fundamental obligation of government, keeping its citizens safe. With today's vote on VAWA, the House has an opportunity to renew our nation's commitment to do everything we can to protect our sisters, daughters, nieces, mothers, and grandmothers from violence. I hope we take it.