The Bureau of Justice Statistics released a report last week showing that the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is effectively working to reduce intimate partner violence. The report titled “Intimate Partner Violence, 1993-2010,” looks at crime and victimization studies from the Bureau of Justice Statistics and shows that there has been a 64% decline in intimate partner violence from 1993 to 2010. The report also found that from 1994 (when VAWA was passed) to 2010, rates of intimate partner violence for women and men decreased by more than 60%. However, women 18 – 24 and 25 – 34 continue to see the highest levels of intimate partner violence.

Many activists are citing the decline as evidence that VAWA significantly reduces intimate partner violence, especially against women. Kim Gandy, President of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, stated “The difference between today and 1993 is remarkable. …VAWA is truly the foundation of our nation’s response to domestic and sexual violence, stalking and dating violence. It is effective and cost efficient. It is saving people’s lives and reducing violence against women.”

VAWA was reauthorized with unanimous support in 2000 and 2005, but its 2011 reauthorization has been halted in Congress. VAWA has been reauthorized by the Senate, however the conservative controlled House has supported the Cantor/Adams VAWA, which would roll back domestic violence legislation. The Cantor/Adams version does not extend protections to Native American women when they are abused by non-native spouses on tribal lands nor does it give Native American authorities the power to prosecute these non-Native abusers. The Cantor/Adams version would not extend VAWA protenction to immigrants and also did not extend full protection to college students. Protections for LGBT victims that were included in the VAWA reauthorization passed by the Senate were also left out of the House Cantor/Adams VAWA reauthorization.

Media Resources: Huffington Post 12/4/12; Bureau of Justice Statistics “Intimate Partner Violence” 11/27/12; Feminist Newswire 5/17/12

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