Chairwoman Bass Opening Statement for Hearing on the Violence Against Women ActLos Angeles Post-Examiner

Chairwoman Bass Opening Statement for Hearing on the Violence Against Women Act

WASHINGTON – Today, Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, delivered the following remarks urging the swift reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act:

“I am pleased that the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security is holding our first hearing of this 116th Congress about our critical duty to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. This law has been successful at attempting to change policies that have led to injustices, and too-often indifference to victimization and suffering, throughout our country’s history.

“It is important to review how we arrived at this moment.

“This month has a special significance that is relevant to this hearing because it is celebrated as Women’s History Month. In 1980 President Jimmy Carter first designated March 2nd through the 8th, as Women’s History week.

“Seven years later in 1987, Congress passed Public Law 100-9, designating March as “Women’s History Month.”

“Seven years after that in 1994, Congress passed Public Law 103-322, the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, which we call “VAWA,” a landmark piece of legislation, which began with bipartisan support in both the House and in the Senate.

“This year we celebrate the 25th Anniversary of VAWA, since President Bill Clinton signed the first VAWA into law on September 13, 1994.

“On this day, March 7th, President Barack Obama signed our last VAWA in 2013.

“And today, on the 6th year anniversary of VAWA’s last passage, we are holding this hearing to address the urgency of now in reauthorizing this vital legislation, which addresses the needs of all victims and survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

“As a result of this historic legislation, which has unarguably proven critical in the lives of so many survivors, every state has enacted laws making stalking a crime and strengthened their criminal rape statutes.

“While this legislation is named the “Violence Against Women Act”, this is a gender neutral legislation, which responds to the needs and care of all survivors—men, women, and children alike.

“For centuries, women have fought vigorously to demand changes in our federal laws, not simply for their own benefits, but for others as well, because they sought progress. VAWA is no exception in that regard.

“As Shirley Chisolm once said, you don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas.
“We have made progress in VAWA 2000, 2005, and 2013 – but the statistics remain alarming and unacceptable.

“Domestic violence claims at least 2,000 lives each year. Seventy percent of the victims are women. Most “intimate partner” homicides, in which a person targets a spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend, are committed with firearms.

“An astounding 17,500 victims disclosed the use or threat of firearms being used during abuse.

“We must hold abusers accountable, provide vital services, and promote safe environments where survivors are protected.

“The MeToo movement continues to remind us that we can never remain complacent, and instead, we must always shed light on the prevalence of violence against women, men and children.

“We must not ignore the even greater recognition by our citizens, exemplified by the MeToo movement, that we must insist on taking action now, and we must act to reauthorize and strengthen VAWA so that it meets today’s challenges.

“In the most recent 2018 Impact Report by the National Domestic Violence Hotline, more than 370,000 total calls were answered.

“Of that amount, more than 200,000 calls, chats and texts went unanswered due to lack of resources.

“In those contacts made, 83,000 victims reported that their abusive situation involved children; 13,000 victims experienced stalking; almost 7,500 cited suicidal threats from their abusive partners, while 4,00 cited thoughts of suicide themselves.

“VAWA provides grants that helps break the cycle of domestic violence. These vital resources save lives by assisting women, men and children as they flee abuse and heal from trauma. The grants also support training for law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, service providers, and communities to provide comprehensive support to victims, hold offenders accountable, and keep our communities safe.

“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 domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.

“VAWA funded programs have provided victims with critical services such as transitional housing, legal assistance, and supervised visitation services. VAWA has led to increased reporting of sexual assault and increased ability of victims to flee abuse. It has also helped address the unique barriers faced by rural, elderly, and disabled victims. Despite these gains, much work remains to be done to address unmet needs of survivors.

“We must hold abusers accountable, provide vital services, and promote safe environments where survivors are protected.

“The MeToo movement continues to remind us that we can never remain complacent, and instead, we must always shed light on the prevalence of violence against women, men and children.

“We must not ignore the even greater recognition by our citizens, exemplified by the MeToo movement, that we must insist on taking action now, and we must act to reauthorize and strengthen VAWA so that it meets today’s challenges.

“That is why I look forward to hearing from our panel of expert witnesses to help us understand these issues, the successes of VAWA, and the need to do even more through a strengthened law.”

Watch her full statement here.

Watch her remarks from a press conference later, here.


About the author

COMMENT POLICY

Leave a Comment

Comment Policy

HOME / ABOUT / CONTACT / JOIN THE TEAM / TERMS OF SERVICE / PRIVACY POLICY / COMMENT POLICY

Los Angeles Post-Examiner