The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA) was a United States federal law (Title IV, sec. 40001-40703 of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, H.R. 3355) signed as Pub.L. 103–322 by President Bill Clinton on September 13, 1994 (codified in part at 42 U.S.C. sections 13701 through 14040). The Act provided $1.6 billion toward investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women, imposed automatic and mandatory restitution on those convicted, and allowed civil redress in cases prosecutors chose to leave un-prosecuted. The Act also established the Office on Violence Against Women within the Department of Justice.
VAWA was drafted by the office of Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) and co-written by Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY), with support from a broad coalition of advocacy groups. The Act passed through Congress with bipartisan support in 1994, clearing the United States House of Representatives by a vote of 235–195 and the Senate by a vote of 61–38, although the following year House Republicans attempted to cut the Act's funding. In the 2000 Supreme Court case United States v. Morrison, a sharply divided Court struck down the VAWA provision allowing women the right to sue their attackers in federal court. By a 5–4 majority, the Court overturned the provision as exceeding the federal government's powers under the Commerce Clause.
VAWA was reauthorized by bipartisan majorities in Congress in 2000 and again in December 2005. The Act's 2012 renewal was opposed by conservative Republicans, who objected to extending the Act's protections to same-sex couples and to provisions allowing battered undocumented immigrants to claim temporary visas, but it was reauthorized in 2013, after a long legislative battle. As a result of the United States federal government shutdown of 2018–2019, the Violence Against Women Act expired on December 21, 2018. It was temporarily reinstated via a short-term spending bill on January 25, 2019, but expired again on February 15, 2019. The House of Representatives passed a bill reauthorizing VAWA in April 2019; the bill, which includes new provisions protecting transgender victims and banning individuals convicted of domestic abuse from purchasing firearms, has been ignored by the Senate.
- 1 Background
- 2 Debate and legal standing
- 3 2012–13 legislative battle and reauthorization
- 4 After passage
- 5 Programs and services
- 6 Restraining orders
- 7 Persons who were covered under VAWA immigration provisions
- 8 Coverage of male victims
- 9 Related developments
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 External links
This section needs additional citations for verification. (October 2018) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
The World Conference on Human Rights, held in Vienna, Austria, in 1993, and the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women in the same year, concluded that civil society and governments have acknowledged that domestic violence is a public health policy and human rights concern. In the United States, according to the National Intimate Partner Sexual Violence Survey of 2010 1 in 6 women suffered some kind of sexual violence induced by their intimate partner during the course of their lives.
The Violence Against Women Act was developed and passed as a result of extensive grassroots efforts in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Advocates for the battered women's movement included sexual assault advocates, individuals from victim services, law enforcement agencies, prosecutors' offices, the courts, and the private bar. They urged Congress to adopt significant legislation to address domestic and sexual violence . One of the greatest successes of VAWA is its emphasis on a coordinated community response to domestic violence, sex dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking; courts, law enforcement, prosecutors, victim services, and the private bar currently work together in a coordinated effort that did not exist before at 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 Native American 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 Native American 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
- Engaging Men and Youth in Prevention
Debate and legal standing
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had originally expressed concerns about the Act, saying that the increased penalties were rash, that the increased pretrial detention was "repugnant" to the U.S. Constitution, that the mandatory HIV testing of those only charged but not convicted was an infringement of a citizen’s right to privacy, and that 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). In 2005, the ACLU had, however, enthusiastically supported reauthorization of VAWA on the condition that the "unconstitutional DNA provision" be removed. That provision would have allowed law enforcement to take DNA samples from arrestees or even from those who had simply been stopped by police without the permission of a court.
The ACLU, in its 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 in their struggle to overcome abusive situations".
Some activists opposed the bill. Janice Shaw Crouse, a senior fellow at the conservative, evangelistic Christian Concerned Women for America's Beverly LaHaye Institute, called the Act a "boondoggle" which "ends up creating a climate of suspicion where all men are feared or viewed as violent and all women are viewed as victims". She described the Act in 2012 as creating a "climate of false accusations, rush to judgment and hidden agendas" and criticized it for failing to address the factors identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as leading to violent, abusive behavior. Conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly denounced VAWA as a tool to "fill feminist coffers" and argued that the Act promoted "divorce, breakup of marriage and hatred of men".
In 2000, the Supreme Court of the United States held part of VAWA unconstitutional on federalism grounds in United States v. Morrison. That decision invalidated only the civil remedy provision of VAWA. The provisions providing program funding were unaffected.
In 2005, the reauthorization of VAWA (as HR3402) defined what population benefited under the term of "Underserved Populations" described as " Populations underserved because of geographic location, underserved racial and ethnic populations, populations underserved because of special needs (such as language barriers, disabilities, alienage status, or age) and any other population determined to be underserved by the Attorney General or by the Secretary of Health and Human Services as appropriate". The reauthorization also "Amends the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968" to "prohibit officials from requiring sex offense victims to submit to a polygraph examination as a condition for proceeding with an investigation or prosecution of a sex offense."
In 2011, the law expired. In 2012 the law was up for reauthorization in Congress. Different versions of the legislation were passed along party lines in the Senate and House, with the Republican-sponsored House version favoring the reduction of services to undocumented immigrants and LGBT individuals. Another area of contention was the provision of the law giving Native American tribal authorities jurisdiction over sex crimes involving non-Native Americans on tribal lands. By repealing a portion of the 1978 Oliphant v. Suquamish ruling, such a provision could alter the constitutional balance between federal, state, and tribal power. Historically Congress has not allowed tribal governments to exercise criminal jurisdiction over non-tribal members. The two bills were pending reconciliation, and a final bill did not reach the President's desk before the end of the year, temporarily ending the coverage of the Act after 18 years, as the 112th Congress adjourned.
When a bill reauthorizing the act was introduced in 2012, it was opposed by conservative Republicans, who objected to extending the Act's protections to same-sex couples and to provisions allowing battered foreigners residing in the country illegally to claim temporary visas, also known as U visas. The U visa is restricted to 10,000 applicants annually whereas the number of applicants far exceeds these 10,000 for each fiscal year. In order to be considered for the U visa, one of the requirements for immigrant women is that they need to cooperate in the detention of the abuser. Studies show that 30 to 50% of immigrant women are suffering from physical violence and 62% experience physical or psychological abuse in contrast to only 21% of citizens in the United States.
In April 2012, the Senate voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, and the House subsequently passed its own measure (omitting provisions of the Senate bill that would protect gays, Native Americans living in reservations, and immigrants who are victims of domestic violence). Reconciliation of the two bills was stymied by procedural measures, leaving the re-authorization in question. The Senate's 2012 re-authorization of VAWA was not brought up for a vote in the House.
In 2013, the question of jurisdiction over offenses in Indian country continued to be at issue over the question of whether defendants who are not tribal members would be treated fairly by tribal courts or afforded constitutional guarantees.
On February 12, 2013, the Senate passed an extension of the Violence Against Women Act by a vote of 78–22. The measure went to the House of Representatives where jurisdiction of tribal courts and inclusion of same-sex couples were expected to be at issue. Possible solutions advanced were permitting either removal or appeal to federal courts by non-tribal defendants. The Senate had tacked on the Trafficking Victims Protection Act which is another bone of contention due to a clause which requires provision of reproductive health services to victims of sex trafficking.
On February 28, 2013, in a 286–138 vote, the House passed the Senate's all-inclusive version of the bill. House Republicans had previously hoped to pass their own version of the measure—one that substantially weakened the bill's protections for certain categories. The stripped down version, which allowed only limited protection for LGBT and Native Americans, was rejected 257 to 166. The renewed act expanded federal protections to gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals, Native Americans and immigrants.
138 House Republicans voted against the version of the act that became law. However, several, including Steve King (R-Iowa), Bill Johnson (R-Ohio), Tim Walberg (R-Michigan), Vicky Hartzler (R-Missouri), Keith Rothfus (R-Pennsylvania), and Tim Murphy (R-Pennsylvania), claimed to have voted in favor of the act. Some have called this claim disingenuous because the group only voted in favor of a GOP proposed alternative version of the bill that did not contain provisions intended to protect gays, lesbians and transgender individuals, Native Americans and undocumented immigrants.
VAWA was reauthorized by bipartisan majorities in Congress in 2000 (H.R. 1248, Roll Call 415-3), and again in December 2005, and signed by President George W. Bush. The Act's 2012 renewal was opposed by conservative Republicans, who objected to extending the Act's protections to same-sex couples and to provisions allowing battered undocumented immigrants to claim temporary visas. Ultimately, VAWA was again reauthorized in 2013, after a long legislative battle throughout 2012–2013.
On September 12, 2013, at an event marking the 19th anniversary of the bill, Vice President Joe Biden criticized the Republicans who slowed the passage of the reauthorization of the act as being "this sort of Neanderthal crowd".
As a result of the United States federal government shutdown of 2018–2019, the Violence Against Women Act expired on December 21, 2018. It was temporarily reauthorized by a short-term spending bill on January 25, 2019, but expired again on February 15, 2019.
On April 4, 2019, the reauthorization act passed in the House by a vote of 263-158. All Democrats voting joined by 33 Republicans voted for passage. New York Representative Elise Stefanik said Democrats, "...have refused to work with Republicans in a meaningful way," adding, the House bill will do nothing but "collect dust" in the GOP-controlled Senate.The bill has indeed been ignored by the Senate.
Programs and services
This section does not cite any sources. (December 2018) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
The Violence Against Women laws provided programs and services, including:
- Federal rape shield law.
- 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 domestic violence
When a woman—the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence generally refers to petitioners as female as most are women—is the beneficiary of an order of protection, per VAWA it was generally enforceable nationwide under the terms of full faith and credit. Although the order may be granted only in a specific state, full faith and credit requires that it be enforced in other states as though the order was granted in their states.18 U.S.C. § 2265
Persons who were covered under VAWA immigration provisions
VAWA allowed for the possibility that certain individuals who might not otherwise be eligible for immigration benefits may petition for US permanent residency on the grounds of a close relationship with a US citizen or permanent resident who has been abusing them. The following persons are eligible to benefit from the immigration provisions of VAWA:
- A wife or husband who has been abused by a U.S. citizen or permanent resident (Green Card holder) spouse. The petition will also cover the petitioner’s children under age 21.
- A child abused by a U.S. citizen or permanent resident parent. The petition can be filed by an abused child or by her parent on the child’s behalf.
- A parent who has been abused by a U.S. citizen child who is at least 21 years old.
Coverage of male victims
Although the title of the Act and the titles of its sections refer to victims of domestic violence as women, the operative text is gender-neutral, providing coverage for male victims as well. Individual organizations have not been successful in using VAWA to provide equal coverage for men. The law has twice been amended in attempts to address this situation. The 2005 reauthorization added a non-exclusivity provision clarifying that the title should not be construed to prohibit male victims from receiving services under the Act. The 2013 reauthorization added a non-discrimination provision that prohibits organizations receiving funding under the Act from discriminating on the basis of sex, although the law allows an exception for "sex segregation or sex-specific programming" when it is deemed to be "necessary to the essential operations of a program." Jan Brown, the Founder and Executive Director of the Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men and Women contends that the Act may not be sufficient to ensure equal access to services.
Official federal government groups that have developed, being established by President Barack Obama, in relation to the Violence Against Women Act include the White House Council on Women and Girls and the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. The ultimate aims of both groups are to help improve and/or protect the well-being and safety of women and girls in the United States.
- International Violence Against Women Act
- Outline of domestic violence
- Violence against men
- Women's shelter
- "Report: 1 Is Too Many: Twenty Years Fighting Violence Against Women and Girls from The White House" (PDF). whitehouse.gov. Retrieved May 6, 2018.
- Cooper, Kenneth (July 15, 1995). "House GOP Budget Cutters Try to Limit Domestic Violence Programs". Washington Post. Archived from the original on July 24, 2012. Retrieved April 19, 2012.
- Bierbauer, Charles (May 18, 2000). "Supreme Court strikes down Violence Against Women Act". CNN. Archived from the original on February 13, 2008. Retrieved April 19, 2012.
- Greenhouse, Linda (May 16, 2000). "Women lose right to sue attackers in federal court". New York Times. Archived from the original on February 5, 2012. Retrieved April 19, 2012.
- "House passes reauthorization of Violence Against Women Act". CNN. April 4, 2019.
- Black, M. C. et al. The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010 Summary Report. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011.
- "Tell Congress to Support the Violence Against Women Act". American Civil Liberties Union. Archived from the original on November 16, 2005.
- "ACLU Letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee Regarding the Violence Against Women Act of 2005, S. 1197". ACLU. July 27, 2005. Archived from the original on December 22, 2015.
- Butler, Jennifer S. (2006). Born Again: The Christian Right Globalized. New York: Pluto Press. pp. 39, 46, 120–1 – via ProQuest eBrary.
- Crouse, Janice Shaw (March 19, 2012). "The Violence Against Women Act Should Outrage Decent People". U.S. News and World Report (Opinion). Archived from the original on November 3, 2017.
- Weisman, Jonathan (March 14, 2012). "Women Figure Anew in Senate's Latest Battle". The New York Times. Archived from the original on April 30, 2012. Retrieved April 19, 2012.
- United States v. Morrison Archived August 9, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, 529 U.S. 598, 627; "For these reasons, we conclude that Congress' power under § 5 does not extend to the enactment of § 13981.... The judgment of the Court of Appeals is Affirmed." (at end of opinion section III)
- Olivares, Mariela. 2014. "Battered by Law: The Political Subordination of Immigrant Women." American University Law Review 64(2):231-283
- F., Sensenbrenner (January 5, 2006). "H.R.3402 - 109th Congress (2005-2006): Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005". www.congress.gov. Archived from the original on May 5, 2018. Retrieved May 6, 2018.
- "42 U.S. Code § 3796gg–8 - Transferred". LII / Legal Information Institute. Archived from the original on July 17, 2017. Retrieved May 6, 2018.
- "Senate votes to reauthorize Violence Against Women Act". USA Today. February 12, 2013. Archived from the original on February 13, 2013. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
- Bolduan, Kate (May 16, 2012). "House passes GOP version of Violence Against Women Act renewal". CNN. Washington. Archived from the original on June 23, 2012.
- Berger, Susan. 2009. "(Un) Worthy: Latina Battered Immigrants Under VAWA and the Construction of Neoliberal Subjects." Citizenship Studies 13(3):201-217
- Levine, Helisse and Shelly Peffer. 2012. "Quiet Casualties: An Analysis of U Non- Immigrant Status of Undocumented Immigrant Victims of Intimate Partner Violence." International Journal of Public Administration 35(9):634. pg 635
- Steinhauer, Jennifer (July 31, 2012). "THE CAUCUS; G.O.P. Push on Domestic Violence Act". New York Times. Retrieved October 13, 2012.
- Jonathan Weisman (February 10, 2013). "Measure to Protect Women Stuck on Tribal Land Issue". The New York Times. Archived from the original on February 11, 2013. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
If a Native American is raped or assaulted by a non-Indian, she must plead for justice to already overburdened United States attorneys who are often hundreds of miles away.
- Jonathan Weisman (February 12, 2013). "Senate Votes Overwhelmingly to Expand Domestic Violence Act". The New York Times. Archived from the original on February 13, 2013. Retrieved February 13, 2013.
- Editors, The New York Times (February 15, 2013). "Renew the Violence Against Women Act" (editorial). The New York Times. Archived from the original on February 16, 2013. Retrieved February 16, 2013.
What should be an uncontroversial bill has been held up by Republicans over the Obama administration’s proper insistence that contractors under the act afford victims access to a full range of reproductive health services.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
- "VAWA victory shows that House GOP needs Democrats". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on March 1, 2013. Retrieved February 28, 2013.
- Camia, Catalina (February 28, 2013). "Congress sends Violence Against Women Act to Obama". USA Today. Archived from the original on January 8, 2015. Retrieved February 28, 2013.
- LeTrent, Sarah (March 14, 2013). "Violence Against Women Act shines a light on same-sex abuse". CNN. Archived from the original on May 4, 2013. Retrieved May 2, 2013.
- "Nondiscrimination Grant Condition in the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013" (PDF). justice.gov. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 29, 2018. Retrieved May 6, 2018.
- Pub. L. No. 113-4, 127 Stat. 54 (March 7, 2013).
- "S. 47 (113th): Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 -- House Vote #55 -- Feb 28, 2013". GovTrack.us. Archived from the original on January 27, 2018. Retrieved May 6, 2018.
- Bendery, Jennifer (March 7, 2013). "Violence Against Women Act Now Touted By Republicans Who Voted Against Bill". Huffington Post. Archived from the original on October 25, 2013. Retrieved September 17, 2013.
- "President Signs H.R. 3402, the "Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005"" (Press release). George W. Bush White House archives. January 5, 2006. Archived from the original on September 10, 2017.
- "President signs Violence Against Women Act - CNN.com". CNN. March 7, 2013. Archived from the original on March 12, 2013.
- "Biden: 'Neanderthal crowd' slowed VAWA renewal". Politico. Archived from the original on September 16, 2013. Retrieved September 17, 2013.
- "Violence Against Women Act Expires Because Of Government Shutdown - NPR.org". NPR.
- Snell, Kelsey [@kelsey_snell] (January 25, 2019). "...the short-term spending bill (CR) includes a reauthorization/extension of the Violence Against Women Act per McConnell spox" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/04/politics/house-passes-violence-against-women-act-reauthorization/index.html House passes reauthorization of Violence Against Women Act CNN, Ashley Killough, April 4, 2019.
- Factsheet: The Violence Against Women Act Archived January 31, 2013, at the Wayback Machine from The White House.
- "Process for Obtaining a Restraining Order in Wisconsin" (PDF). WCADV. Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Archived from the original on February 2, 2017. Retrieved November 20, 2017.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
- "National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith and Credit". Protection Orders. Battered Women's Justice Project. Archived from the original on June 9, 2016. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
- "VAWA: VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT". Givi Kutidze. November 2, 2016. Archived from the original on December 6, 2016.
- "Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994". Act No. H.R. 3355 of 1994. Archived from the original on January 11, 2014.
- Franklin, Robert (February 4, 2013). "VAWA must be reformed for domestic violence rates to come down". The Hill. Capitol Hill Publishing Corp. Archived from the original on February 2, 2014.
- "Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005". Article Sec. 3(b)(8), Act No. H.R. 3402 of 2005. Archived from the original on January 11, 2014.
- "Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013". Article Sec. 3(b)(4), Act No. S. 47 of 2013. Archived from the original on July 16, 2016.
- "Saving Our Men - The Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men and Women". Laws.com. June 13, 2013. Archived from the original on August 5, 2013.
- A renewed call to action to end rape and sexual assault Archived August 17, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, The White House Blog, Washington, DC: Valerie Jarrett, January 22, 2014, Retrieved January 24, 2014.
- Memorandum: Establishing White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault Archived September 13, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, WhiteHouse.gov, Washington, DC: The White House, January 22, 2014, Retrieved June 10, 2014.
- Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Provides Protections for Immigrant Women and Victims of Crime
- Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005
- Office on Violence Against Women
- Privacy Provisions of the Violence Against Women Act
- World Health Organization Multi-country Study on Women's Health and Domestic Violence against Women 2005
- VAWA 2005 Fact Sheet