The Urgency to Fund the Violence Against Women Act ( VAWA)
DAYA, Inc. / PO Box 770773 / Houston, TX 77215 / Helpline (713) 981-7645 / Office (713) 842-7222
The Urgency to Fund the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
HOUSTON, TX, October 16, 19 The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019 (VAWA), passed through the House of Representatives on April 4, 2019, H.R. 1585, and was subsequently placed on the Senate legislative calendar. To date, the Senate has yet to act on this bill, which remains on Senator Mitch McConnell’s desk. The undersigned member organizations release the following statement:
Since first being established in 1994, The Violence Against Women Act has received bipartisan support for reauthorization numerous times. This critical and lifesaving legislation maintains the safety, resources, and protections that have been critical to all survivors, particularly those of color and from other marginalized communities.
VAWA has been instrumental in shifting the discourse of domestic violence to a public platform and changing the dialogue from intimate partner violence to gender-based violence, thus evolving into a more holistic purview. Without VAWA’s reauthorization, funding to many vital programs will cease. The public health crisis related to domestic and sexual violence is not ending. The impact and aftermath of these crimes have direct and indirect consequences in our communities. For example, in 54% of mass shootings, the victims included the shooter’s current or former spouse or intimate partner, or another family member. Further, the intergenerational nature of violence creates a cycle of abuse. When compared to children who grow up in non-abusive homes, children who witness violence are more likely to grow up to be abusers or be abused as adults. The lack of action in signing this urgent bill is furthering the belief that these survivors are expendable and have no value.
Our organizations represent survivors of South Asian origin and similar immigrant communities throughout the United States. We are deeply disappointed in the Senate’s delay in advancing this important bill forward. Interventions for survivors of domestic, dating, sexual violence and human trafficking are imperative to protect and preserve the basic human rights of survivors. “When abuse takes place, it negatively impacts all communities. Gender-based violence, abuse, oppression, and bigotry are interconnected, particularly at the intersections of racism, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, and other forms of oppression. This is especially true for marginalized communities, including South Asian and other immigrant communities,” says Rachna Khare, Executive Director of Daya, a nonprofit supporting South Asian survivors of abuse in Houston.
The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019 would:
● Strengthen privacy protections
● Improve public safety among Native communities and ability to prosecute nonnative offenders for sexual assault, trafficking, stalking, and child abuse
● Fund population-specific programming, including programs designed to meet the needs of communities of color, LGBTQ people, older adults, rural communities, people with disabilities, young adults,
● Improve enforcement of current federal domestic violence-related firearms laws and close loopholes to reduce firearm-involved abuse and intimate partner homicide.
● Acknowledge the trauma of incarceration on women and their family members, especially their children, and improve health care services and trauma-informed responses to better prepare incarcerated women to return to their communities.
● Expand VAWA's ability to respond to sexual harassment.
● Add new definitions including Abuse in Later Life; Alternative Justice Response; Digital Services; Forced Marriage; Economic Abuse; and Technological Abuse and update the definition of domestic violence.
● Improve the Criminal Justice Response grant program to implement alternative justice responses
The impacts of gender-based abuse on survivors can be far-reaching with the impact felt economically and psychologically for generations. But the protections under VAWA have been a lifeline for survivors over the past two decades. As organizations connecting South Asian American survivors with resources, we see an urgency in reauthorizing this act – VAWA.
VAWA has always had bipartisan support as issues of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking impact all communities. It has been a vehicle for new improvements to strengthen the protections available to survivors. With each iteration, lawmakers have incorporated new provisions into VAWA that are informed by the latest research and best practices for addressing gender-based violence. The government must respond to these emerging issues and continue building upon the momentum of the past 25 years to further improve its comprehensive public health response to gender-based violence.
Today, we stand firmly with survivors in all communities who face abuse. As the Senate considers its version of H.R. 1585, it must pass a bill that doesn’t choose between services for victims or training for law enforcement or prevention programs. ALL of it is requisite. Victims and survivors should not live in the shadow of fear from their oppressors. The time is now to re-authorize this bill.
● Contact your Senator
● Volunteer or Donate to your local South Asian Women’s Organization and/or a local agenda addressing domestic violence or sexual assault.
● Become an advocate and share this message with your community.
● Organize in your community, campus, place of worship against gender-based violence
Daya, Houston TX (www.dayahouston.org)
Rasksha, Atlanta GA (www.raksha.org)
Sakhi for South Asian Women, New York NY (www.sakhi.org)
Apna Ghar, Inc. (Our Home), Chicago IL (www.apnaghar.org)
Valley Crisis Center, Merced Ca (www.valleycrisiscenter.org)
South Asian Network, Artesia CA( www.southasiannetwork.org)
Manavi, New Brunswick NJ (www.manavi.org)
Chetna, Dallas TX (http://www.chetna-dfw.org)
Sewa-Aifw, Minneapolis, MN (www.sewa-aifw.org)
Daya empowers South Asian survivors of domestic and sexual violence with culturally specific services and educates the community to end the cycle of violence.