We are proud to share YWCA Spokane’s CEO, Regina Malveaux, joined House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Members of the House of Representatives at a press event on Thursday, March 7th, 2019, to introduce the bipartisan reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.
This critical, long-term legislation reaffirms protections for all women, men, and children, and authorizes funding to provide services for victims. Regina’s remarks to Congress begin at the 8-minute mark and are also transcribed below:
YWCA Spokane CEO, Regina Malveaux’s Remarks:
“I’m here today with my colleagues across the country to implore Congress to reauthorize VAWA. It’s critical and authorizing it at the full funding level is equally as important. The YWCA serves over a half million women girls and families with domestic violence victim service support. In Spokane, we serve over 17,000. and Spokane, WA is a population of about 400,000, and our organization serves about 17,000 women and girls with support services such as our shelter, counseling, and legal services. Even so, our funding authorized by VAWA only allows us to serve 1/3 of the victims who come seeking legal services so we are required to turn 2/3 of those victims away based on our attorney capacity compared to the demand. One example of a client who benefits from VAWA and the services provided under it was Jill, who was a survivor living in our shelter after receiving a protection order and support with assistance from a parenting plan to keep her children from having to spend regular time with the perpetrator. Too often the family law system is manipulated by perpetrators, and victims and children continue to be victimized. When I spoke with Jill she told me I will never forget what the YWCA did for us and how important you were to our survival. Again, it’s imperative for Congress to pass a strong VAWA bill now and to commit to fully funding these critical services which we absolutely know are saving lives”
What is vawa?
In 1994, Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in recognition of the severity of crimes associated with domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. It was reauthorized in 2000, 2005, and 2013. It needed reauthorization in December 2018, but the bill lapsed with the partial Government Shutdown. It was temporarily reauthorized with the re-opening of the government, but lapsed in February 2019, as it did not receive reauthorization by its deadline. Congress is currently working on a bipartisan reauthorization of VAWA.
Each reauthorization implemented new actions to the bill in order to better serve women and to prevent violence against women in the U.S. and on Tribal Lands. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, each reauthorization bill contained the following:
- Community-coordinated responses that brought together, for the first time, the criminal justice system, the social services system, and private nonprofit organizations responding to domestic violence and sexual assault
- Recognition and support for the efforts of domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centers, and other community organizations nationwide working every day to end this violence
- Federal prosecution of interstate domestic violence and sexual assault crimes
- Federal guarantees of interstate enforcement of protection orders
- Protections for battered immigrants
- A new focus on underserved populations and Native American victims of domestic violence and sexual assault
- Identifying the additional related crimes of dating violence and stalking
- Creating a much-needed legal assistance program for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault
- Promoting supervised visitation programs for families experiencing violence
- Further protecting immigrants experiencing domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault or stalking, by establishing U- and T-visas and by focusing on trafficking of persons
- Creating provisions that exclusively serve to protect immigrant victims of domestic violence but also include protections to alleviate violence against immigrant women
- Developing prevention strategies to stop violence before it starts
- Protecting individuals from unfair eviction due to their status as victims of domestic violence or stalking
- Creating the first federal funding stream to support rape crisis centers
- Developing culturally-and linguistically-specific services for communities
- Enhancing programs and services for victims with disabilities
- Broadening VAWA service provisions to include children and teenagers
- Provides law enforcement with better resources to investigate cases of rape
- Gives colleges more tools to educate students about dating violence and sexual assault
- Empowers tribal courts to prosecute those who commit domestic violence on tribal lands, regardless of whether the aggressor is a member of the tribe
- Continues to allow relief for immigrant victims of domestic violence
- Provides for more care and assistance for LGBTQ victims
Under House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and co-sponsored by Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), a new bipartisan reauthorization was introduced on March 7, 2019. According to Rep. Pelosi, the reauthorization would strengthen legal protection for LGBTQ, Native American, and immigrant women, and make it harder for those convicted of crimes related to domestic violence to acquire firearms.