TURES COLUMN: Why you should support reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act

Published 9:30 am Saturday, October 9, 2021

One of the key battlegrounds in Congress that you might not have heard about is the latest attempt to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). But I think after you’re done reading this, you’ll want to do your part and contact your member of Congress, to get this done. And yes, it really is up to you.

Back when I was a Senate Intern in 1994, Congress passed VAWA. It didn’t get a lot of attention, but maybe it should have. That’s because it was one of the most important, and effective, pieces of legislation passed by Congress in recent years. The statistics tell the tale.

Most of you might know that crime declined dramatically after the early 1990s. And it wasn’t just the crime bill that played a role. After VAWA was passed, “the rate of intimate partner violence declined by 67% between the 1990s and the year 2010. Between 1993 to 2007, the rate of intimate partner homicides of females decreased 35%,” according to the White House.

Many of you probably understand that our law enforcement community would really like to do more, but an intimidated spouse isn’t always in a position to help. That’s where VAWA helps our police help the most vulnerable. You can read the text here on the Congress.gov website), and see how it addresses violence, but protects young victims, provides safe homes, gives law enforcement more tools so they can do the jobs they want to do, and even holds the thankfully few rogue cops accountable, the ones who give the vast majority of men and women in blue a bad name.

I’m sure you know that fighting crime isn’t cheap. But if money is an issue, you should know that VAWA more than pays for itself. Within the first six years of being implemented, VAWA saved $12.6 billion nationwide, according to CCADV. Most states have also followed VAWA’s lead, and adopted compatible policies. Remember how hard stalking was to charge, much less prosecute? Now every state has an anti-stalking policy.

It isn’t just that America is doing better than it was before VAWA became the law. The U.S. is actually exceeding international statistics. While more than one in three women globally have been subjected to intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence, according to the WHO, that number is far less in America, typically less than one in five women.

But one attack would be one too many. The current version of VAWA seeks to close many of the loopholes that prevented those responsible for these terrible acts from being held accountability; some are long overdue. Unfortunately, Congress failed to renew VAWA in 2018.

In March of 2021, VAWA was renewed in the House by a 244-172 vote. Yet it took nearly seven months for the Senate to even look at it; the bill was only discussed in the Judiciary Committee on October 5, 2021.

This isn’t just a matter for politicians to debate and discuss and decide upon. It’s also your right, as well as your duty and obligation, to make your voice heard. Please contact your member of the Senate (and the House, if you haven’t already) here and tell them how you feel about H.R.1620. If you don’t, you are still taking a stand, by personally keeping VAWA from being renewed.