Legislation Introduced to Combat Domestic Violence
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, along with a coalition of 104 lawmakers, introduced legislation to combat domestic violence across the country. The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA) of 2018 (H.R. 6545) builds on more than two decades of progress to address domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking, including in native and indigenous communities.
The protections provided by VAWA and the programs it established have helped prevent victimization and meet the needs of survivors and their families in Hawai‘i and across the country. Through reauthorizations of VAWA, last accomplished in 2013, critical features have been preserved while important updates have been made. The current authorization is set to expire on Sept. 30, 2018.
Rep. Gabbard said: “Every year in Hawai‘i, more than 50,000 women are victims of domestic violence. While domestic violence continues to be an epidemic in our country and we have much more work to do, funding through the Violence Against Women Act has been critical to providing survivors and their families with resources, support, and care and also holding those responsible accountable. However, these funds run out on Sept.30th—there is no time to waste. Congress needs to rise above partisan politics and come together to pass this life-saving legislation now.”
Ryan Kusumoto, Parents and Children Together (PACT) president and CEO, said: “We wholeheartedly support Rep. Gabbard’s efforts to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). All women and children deserve the right to feel safe and protected in the State of Hawai‘i. Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act will significantly increase our ability to combat domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. We see horrible acts of violence against women occur on a regular basis. We also know that there are so many more incidents that go unreported. We have so much work to do. Too many of women, mothers, daughters, family members, and friends are being traumatized and killed each year. We cannot allow this to continue. Reauthorizing VAWA will allow our community to continue its efforts to reduce and eliminate violence against women. Mahalo Representative Gabbard for your work.”
Nanci Kreidman, Domestic Violence Action Center CEO, said: “VAWA is critical to communities across Hawai‘i. An effective and accountable check on our criminal justice system is potentially lifesaving for victims of domestic violence. The Domestic Violence Action Center serves several thousand victims—island families—every year who need assistance and protection from the system. VAWA provides tools and guidance for this to work. It needs to be supported again. NOW!”
Background: The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2018 would:
- Enhance judicial and law enforcement tools, through reauthorization of the STOP Grants, to develop and enforce firearm surrender policies, expand permissible allowed use of grant funding for programs focused on increasing survivor/law enforcement/community safety, and legal assistance for dependent children in appropriate circumstances.
- Improve services for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking;
- Provide services, protection, and justice for young victims of violence, including extending the Rape Prevention and Education grant program, addressing bullying of young people, improving grants focused on prevention education for students, and expanding relevant training for school-based and campus health centers;
- Reauthorize and update the SMART Prevention Program to reduce dating violence, help children exposed to violence, and engage men in preventing violence;
- Expand grants under the Public Health Service Act to support implementation of training programs to improve the capacity of early childhood programs to address domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking among the families they serve;
- Preserve and expand housing protections for survivors;
- Provide economic security assistance for survivors, by reauthorizing the National Resource Center on Workplace Responses, protecting employees from being fired because they are survivors of sexual assault or domestic violence, and protecting survivors’ eligibility to receive Unemployment Insurance;
- Help prevent “intimate partner” homicides, by including provisions expanding firearms laws to prohibit persons convicted of dating violence from possessing firearms, prohibiting persons convicted of misdemeanor stalking from possessing firearms, and prohibiting individuals subject to ex parte protective orders from possessing firearms;
- Help protect Native American women, by including provisions to improve the response to missing and murdered Native American women, improving tribal access to federal crime information databases, and reaffirming tribal criminal jurisdiction over non-Indian perpetrators of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, stalking, and trafficking for all federally recognized Indian tribes and Alaskan Natives;
- Protect the Office on Violence Against Women in the Department of Justice from being de-emphasized, merged, or consolidated into any other DOJ office.