ABA to Congress: Reauthorize Violence Against Women Bill
American Bar Association President Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III, in a letter sent Tuesday to Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Charles E. Grassley (R-IA)—chair and ranking minority of the Judiciary Committee —emphasized the association’s support of the Violence Against Women Act. In his letter, Robinson noted that the bill “has been the single most effective federal effort to respond to the epidemic of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking in this country.”
Robinson continued, “The act has ensured that legal and social services are available to survivors, and that law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, attorneys and advocates are well-trained and equipped with cutting-edge resources to effectively address these crimes in their own communities.” Robinson also noted that the programs and policies brought about by the act are “credited with providing lifesaving assistance to hundreds of thousands of victims.”
Since VAWA’s enactment, the number of women killed by intimate partners has decreased by 35 percent since 1993, and nonfatal violent acts against women and men by intimate partners decreased by more than 50 percent, according to a Department of Justice report. Other studies indicate that incidents of domestic and sexual violence tend to decrease when victims have legal representation and when they obtain protection orders.
Robinson cautioned that we as a nation have a long way to go, however, as nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men have been raped at some time in their lives, according to a Centers for Disease Control study.
The ABA has long taken a leadership role in addressing domestic, sexual and stalking violence and recognizes the important role of the legal profession in addressing domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking crimes. Since 1994, the ABA’s Commission on Domestic & Sexual Violence has worked to increase access to justice for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking by mobilizing the legal profession.
Enacted by Congress in 1994, VAWA was reauthorized in 2000 and again in 2005. Robinson’s letter was sent prior to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s scheduled consideration of the bill. The bill was reported out by the Judiciary Committee on Feb.2 by a vote of 10-8.
To read President Robinson’s letter click here.