Support an Inclusive VAWA and Oppose H.R. 4970 (Sign-On)

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May 14, 2012

The Honorable John A. Boehner
Speaker
U.S. House of Representatives
H-232 Capitol Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Minority Leader
U.S. House of Representatives
H-204 Capitol Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Eric Cantor
Majority Leader
U.S. House of Representatives
303 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 50515

The Honorable Steny Hoyer
Minority Whip
U.S. House of Representatives
1705 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 50515


Dear Speaker Boehner, Minority Leader Pelosi, Majority Leader Cantor, and Minority Whip Hoyer:

We, the undersigned organizations, represent millions of victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking, and the professionals who serve them, throughout the United States and territories.  We would like to express our strong opposition to H.R. 4970, the bill introduced by Rep. Sandy Adams (R-FL) to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). 

As you know, Congress has recognized the severity of violence against women and our need for a national strategy since the enactment of the Violence Against Women Act in 1994. Over the last 18 years, this landmark federal law’s comprehensive approach to violence against women has had dramatic results.  VAWA funds are used to:

  • Train over 500,000 law enforcement personnel every year,
  • Help advocates to respond to urgent calls for help with the establishment of the National Domestic Violence Hotline that answers 22,000 calls each month,
  • Support sexual assault services in every state; when victims receive advocate-assisted services following assaults, rape survivors are 59 percent more likely to have police reports taken than survivors without advocates whose reports are only taken 41 percent of the time, and
  • Support programs that reduce domestic violence homicides; as an example, between 1993 and 2007, the rate of intimate partner homicides of females decreased by 35 percent and the rate of intimate partner homicides of males decreased 46 percent.


We all support a strong, bipartisan VAWA reauthorization bill similar to what the Senate passed last month, which would continue the life-saving protections and services needed by victims and their families. Again, H.R. 4970, which recently passed out of the House Judiciary Committee by a near party-line vote, would be a rollback of years of progress and likely increase the number of women and children who could be hurt. While we respect Congresswoman Adams’ personal commitment to the issue of violence against women and girls, we must oppose her harmful bill. H.R. 4970 is genuinely dangerous for immigrant women and their families. It includes damaging provisions that create obstacles for immigrant victims to report crimes, increases danger for immigrant victims by eliminating important confidentiality protections, and undermines effective anti-fraud protections that exist in current law. 

While embracing many elements of the bipartisan reauthorization that recently passed the Senate, the bill excludes key improvements that were included in the Senate reauthorization. It expressly rejects protections for men and women who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender and eliminates strong protections and justice for women and children who are beaten or abused on Tribal lands by perpetrators who are not members of a particular tribe. And it removes a key requirement that would more easily allow victims to move from one subsidized housing program to another in order to avoid an abuser and drops an important provision that would tackle the violence that occurs on our nation’s college campuses.

We respectfully request that you reconsider advancing this legislation and instead focus on developing a bipartisan bill modeled after H.R. 4271, the companion bill to the Senate-passed version of VAWA.

Thank you for your past efforts to prevent and respond to violence against women and children. We look forward to working with you to craft a bill that works to protect all victims and directs resources to this urgent task in the most effective way possible.

Sincerely,


 

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