CONGRESSWOMAN SHEILA JACKSON LEE INTENDS TO LEAD THE REAUTHORIZATION OF THE VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Robin K. Chand
April 9, 2018 202-225-3816
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee – Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations - Intends to Lead the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act
Jackson Lee: “I stand firm in my commitment to seize the moment and ensure that Congress reauthorizes the landmark Violence Against Women Act, a law that has proven critical in the lives of so many survivors.”
WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Ranking Member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations, and senior member of the House Committees on Judiciary, Homeland Security, and Budget, released the following statement following the announcement of her intention to lead the effort to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act:
“The Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA”) is central to our nation’s effort to fight the epidemic of domestic, sexual dating violence, and stalking. As cultural and societal movements like #MeToo cascade through our zeitgeist, we are reminded that the time for zero tolerance towards this type of abuse has long since passed, and this sea change must now be the norm. The courage, strength and resilience displayed by survivors has reminded all that we must continue to foster an environment for victims of violence to come forward and expose episodes of violence against women. Unfortunately, VAWA is set to expire this year. That is why I will soon introduce legislation that reauthorizes VAWA, and in the process strengthens it by investing in prevention, removing barriers and expanding access to include more protections for victims of this violence.
“After its initial enactment a quarter-century ago, VAWA—through policy reforms, interstate cooperation and grant allocation—has been pivotal in providing a national response to protecting half of the population. Equally important, it has ushered in a seismic transformation on how society perceives violence against women. The law has enhanced and improved the lives of girls and women, boys and men. It has unquestionably improved the national response to these terrible crimes. Nonetheless, much work remains to address unmet needs and to enhance access to protections and services for all victims, including sexual harassment, sex trafficking and tribal injustices.
“Since VAWA’s codification in 1994, more victims report episodes of domestic violence to the police and the rate of non-fatal intimate partner violence against women has decreased by almost two-thirds. VAWA has also led to a significant increase in the reporting of sexual assault. For example, the percentage of victims of rape and sexual assault who report the assault to the police increased from 28.8% in 1993—the year prior to VAWA’s initial passage—to 50% in 2010. In the first 15 years of VAWA’s validity, rates of serious intimate partner violence declined by 72 percent for women and 64 percent for men. Research suggests that referring a victim to a domestic violence or sexual assault advocate has been linked to an increased willingness to file a police report – survivors with an advocate filed a report with law enforcement 59% of the time, versus 41% for individuals not referred to a victim advocate. This progress cannot be allowed to stop. Congress must continue sending the clear message that violence against women is unacceptable. Prior to VAWA, law enforcement lacked the resources and tools to respond effectively to domestic violence and sexual assault. Each reauthorization of VAWA has improved protections for women and men, while helping to change the culture and reduce the tolerance for these crimes.
“This is personal, and ought to be for all Houstonians. The need for these funds is manifest when realizing that here in our city, nearly 4,000 requests for support from victims are turned away every year due to a lack of capacity at the largest provider in the area, the Houston Area Women’s Center. In Texas, the National Network to End Domestic Violence’s Domestic Violence Counts Census found that 6,627 victims received services in one day. Without VAWA funds, requests by survivors for housing, legal representation, counseling and other supportive services go unmet. VAWA has successfully encouraged communities to coordinate their responses to violence against women by bringing together victim advocates, law enforcement, the courts, healthcare professionals, and leaders within faith communities. As a result of this historic legislation, every state has enacted laws making stalking a crime and strengthened criminal rape statutes. Congresswoman Jackson Lee is proud of the hard work put forth in this initiative and asks that all stand together on this extraordinary journey and, in a bipartisan manner, reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.”
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee is a Democrat from Texas’s 18th Congressional District. She is a senior member of the House Committees on Judiciary and Homeland Security and is a Ranking Member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations.