September 28, 2018, New York, NY
The Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York (“WBASNY”), an association of more than 4,300 members, urges federal legislators to support H.R. 6545, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2018 (the “Act” or “VAWA”), sponsored by Representative Sheila Jackson Lee. The Act extends and expands this current federal law addressing domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking that will expire on September 30, 2018.
First passed in 1994, VAWA has had a significant impact on the lives of survivors and their families. Vital improvements in the 2018 VAWA Reauthorization include resources for prevention, support for victims who need assistance rebuilding financially, increased help for underserved communities, improved healthcare responses, and enhanced protections for Alaskan Indian and Native American survivors.
The 2018 VAWA Reauthorization Act contains provisions which would make important investments in prevention; provide resources to implement evidence based prevention programming; safeguard important protections to ensure that all victims and survivors have access to safety and justice; provide law enforcement with new resources to develop more trauma informed approaches; address the needs of underserved communities, and improve healthcare responses to the crimes of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.
The Act would also improve accountability for crimes committed on tribal lands by affirming tribal sovereignty to prosecute non-Native perpetrators of sexual assault, child abuse, trafficking and stalking on tribal land.
Additionally, the housing provisions included in this Act are particularly important for improving the safety of survivors fleeing abuse. Among other important protections, this reauthorization Act would ensure that victims cannot be evicted or denied housing based on the criminal activity of their abusers, would prohibit housing discrimination against victims of domestic violence, enabling victims to maintain safe housing through emergency transfers and vouchers, and would guarantee survivors the right to seek help from law enforcement or emergency assistance without retaliation.
H.R. 6545 is a critical tool in the fight against domestic violence and ensuring the safety of all families. WBASNY urges our national leaders to pass this critical and time sensitive Act before the September 30, 2018, deadline.