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The Violence Against Women Act Should Be Reauthorized

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The Violence Against Women Act—a very important federal law that helps protect the lives and well being of men, women, and children—has expired under the Trump administration and needs to be reinstated. The law was created in order to protect the lives of people who are at risk of being battered or killed by others, and it is very important for our society.

History of the Violence Against Women Act

The Violence Against Women Act was a federal law within the United States. It was passed on September 13, 1994, with bipartisan support, and it was signed by President Bill Clinton. This law meant that 1.6 billion dollars was allocated towards prosecuting and investigating violent crimes against women. The office of Senator Joe Biden drafted the Violence Against Women Act and it was co-written by Democrat Louise Slaughter, a Representative from New York. The Act was authorized by both political parties in 2000 under Bill Clinton and again in 2005 when it was signed by George W. Bush. It was also reauthorized in 2013 under the Obama administration. However, it expired on December 21, 2018 during the government shutdown. On a temporary basis, it was reinstated on January 25, 2019. It expired again on February 15, 2019. Despite the fact that the law is titled "Violence Against Women Act," it is gender neutral and provides coverage for male victims as well.

V.A.W.A. is one of the most effective pieces of Legislation enacted to end domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking." - The A.C.L.U. in its Letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee Regarding the Violence Against Women Act of 2005


Projects Tied to the Act

Congress funded many different grants through the Office on Violence Against Women, which is located within the Department of Justice.

Grants Funded

  • Engaging Men and Youth Prevention
  • Violence on College Campuses Grants
  • Safe Havens Project
  • National Resource Center on Workplace Responses
  • Combating Abuse in Public Housing
  • Elder Abuse Grant
  • Protection and Services for Disabled Victims
  • Civil Legal Assistance for Victims
  • Sexual Assault Services Program
  • Services for Rural Victims
  • Federal Victim Assistants
  • National Tribe Sex Offender Registry
  • Stalker Reduction Database
  • Research on Violence Against Native American Women
  • Grants to Encourage Arrest and Enforce Protection Orders
  • Court Training and Improvement Grants
  • Transitional Housing Grants
  • STOP Grants (State Formula Grants)
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Despite the fact that after the bill was originally created under President Bill Clinton, the law was reauthorized in both 2005 under Republican President George W. Bush and in 2013 under President Barack Obama. Like many people predicted, it expired under the Trump administration. The programs and police training that went on under the Violence Against Women Act were ended due to the multiple government shutdowns and cuts to funding. Recently, Representative Katie Porter testified on her experience surviving domestic abuse and the differentiation on the behavior of the police officers who dealt with being called to her home.

The first time I called for help, the officer who arrived told me that if I called for protection again, my children would be taken away from me.

— Representative Katie Porter

She was very hesitant to call the police again realizing that the first time did not help the situation. The police need to be trained on how to deal with domestic violence situations and know how to act appropriately in order to save lives. Luckily, Katie Porter did call the police again trying to get help.

And, when I did, it was a huge difference. The officer who arrived told me I was brave. He told me I could survive. He told me he would help me and protect my kids and husband and help us all get the help we needed."

— Katie Porter

That is what this legislation is about. It's about making sure when men and women and children around this country call for help, those that arrive on the scene know what to do and are willing to do it."

— Katie Porter

Fitzpatrick, a Republican in support of the bill, thinks that penalties need to be increased for cyber stalking and more evaluation from federal law enforcement to combat online harassment and cyber bullying. However, there are people who are opposed to the reauthorizing of the Act. A prominent group against the reauthorizing is the National Rifle Association. There are new provisions that prevent people with a past history of abuse or stalking from buying a gun. The majority of Republicans, yet not all, are in opposition to reauthorizing the act.


Current Status

The Violence Against Women Act protects women, men, and children from death and harm. Despite the fact that it was reauthorized by two different presidents after its creation under the presidency of Bill Clinton, it has expired under the Trump administration. This lapse has put American people at risk of harm and/or death. Despite the fact that it faced great opposition, the House did vote to reauthorize the act on April 4, 2019. As of the bill's 26th anniversary (on September 13, 2020), the Senate still had yet to vote to reauthorize it. This act is very important and needs to be authorized by Congress and reinstated with bipartisan support.


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