VAWA ACTION ALERT

Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women – more than car accidents, muggings, and rape combined. And studies suggest that up to ten (10) million children witness some form of domestic abuse annually. Everyone has a right to be safe.

Research data indicates that when different members of the community coordinated their efforts to protect battered women and hold batterers accountable, these efforts were more successful. Coordination helps to ensure that the system works faster and better for victims, that victims are protected and receive the services they need, and that batterers are held accountable and cease their abusive behavior.

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) gives law enforcement, prosecutors and judges the resources they need to hold offenders accountable, keeps communities safe while supporting victims, and provides critical funding for prevention and education. The Violence Against Women Act has always had as its core mission to protect and serve ALL[i] victims of intimate partner violence and to tear down barriers that stand in the way of victim safety and access to justice.

VAWA is up for reauthorization. The National Coalition Against Domestic (NCADV) issued a series of action alerts related to the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Reauthorization. In its action alerts, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reminds us that the Violence Against Women Act, “VAWA is a cost-effective, time-tested, constitutionally sound compendium of laws that guarantees equal protection to all victims seeking help under its auspices. Victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking look to Congress to keep this critical program going.”

Today, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Network to End Sexual and Domestic Violence issued an action alert concerning the importance of getting the US Senate to vote on the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The action alert reads as follows:

Urge Senator Reid to schedule a vote THIS WEEK! VAWA (S. 1925) has 61 sponsors -and Senate Majority Leader Reid has still not called the bill to the floor!  In the meantime, victims and survivors of violence are being ignored and those who oppose VAWA are developing alternative bills that would undercut VAWA.  Tell Senator Reid that victims and survivors do not have time to wait and he must call the bill to the floor this week.   Tell your Senators to support S. 1925, the real VAWA!    TAKE ACTION:  1. Urge Senator Reid to schedule VAWA for a vote THIS WEEK.  2. Write a letter to the editor to get the real VAWA to the Senate floor (sample below!).  

 Action 1: S. 1925 has enough sponsors to go to the Senate floor for a vote without a filibuster.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has the power to schedule VAWA for a vote.  Ask him to schedule a vote THIS WEEK.   

 Suggested message: “Senator Reid, you have 61 co-sponsors. You can get a vote for cloture now. In the meantime, those who oppose VAWA are developing a bill that will undercut everything VAWA stands for. Please schedule a date in April so that S.1925, the real VAWA,will be heard on the Senate floor.”

  If you are not from Nevada, call 202-224-3542 (D.C. office).

  If you are from Nevada, call 775-686-5750 (Reno office).

Action 2: Write a letter to the editor to get VAWA to the Senate Floor!  Find suggested language below which you should feel free to edit and personalize.  Find media contacts in your area: http://capwiz.com/fconl/dbq/media.

To The Editor:

The Violence Against Women Act, S. 1925,  is a strong, bipartisan, filibuster-proof bill that will reauthorize essential laws and programs for another five years and build on effective, existing programs to meet the changing needs of victims of domestic and sexual violence.  This legislation, introduced by Senator Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Crapo (R-ID), currently has 61 co-sponsors, including eight Republicans.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has yet to call the bill to the Senate floor for a vote that would demonstrate Congress’ commitment to end this violence.  Delaying this vote  threatens the progress our country has made toward ending domestic and sexual violence and building safer communities.

VAWA saves lives and money –  $12.6 billion in its first 6 years alone.  Approximately $400 million in annual funding supports local law enforcement, prosecution, courts, and victim services.  Since its passage in 1994, all states have strengthened rape laws and the number of individuals killed by an intimate partner has decreased by 34% for women and 57% for men.

Critics of the Leahy-Crapo bill fear that the bill will help “too many” victims.  Critics say S. 1925 gives immigrants a “new” way to enter the U.S., while in reality, provisions to protect abused immigrants have been in place since 1994.  They also claim S. 1925 would force all domestic violence and sexual assault programs to serve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) victims or be charged with discrimination.  In reality, S. 1925 has a provision that allows states to fund services specifically targeted to LGBT victims, who are often  turned away or denied services because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.  They say S. 1925 violates the Constitution by giving tribal courts the authority to punish non-Indians for committing domestic violence on tribal lands where 1 in 3 American Indian women will be raped in their lifetime.  In fact, S. 1925 requires  tribal courts  to provide the same  Constitutional protections afforded to defendants in state criminal courts.

Senate leadership must move quickly to bring S. 1925 to the floor.  A vote for the Leahy-Crapo bill says, unequivocally, to all victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking, “We will help you wherever and whenever you need help.” The time has come for Senator Reid to call this bill to the floor and once again reauthorize this critical legislation.

Sincerely,

[Name, Title, Organization, Contact Info]

With an equal amount of conscience, mind, heart, and collective action we can end violence against women. Toward that end, support the reauthorization of VAWA by calling your Senator this week.

Source: NCADV Action Alert, April 17, 2012.

Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

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