WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWRA) of 2013 amends the 1994 version, working to enhance judicial and law enforcement tools to combat violence. The VAWRA covers violence on all spectrums—from women and children, to immigrants and minorities.
The act expands and adds definitions of terms in order to provide clarity. It also modifies grant conditions, alters information sharing rights, revises nonprofit organization requirements and works to improve civil rights of targeted groups.
In Title I, the bill revises programs that seek to minimize women’s violence. For example, Title I amends the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to authorize appropriations for FY2014-FY2018 for grants to combat violent crime against women and encourage government entities to implement policies, training programs and best practices for recognizing, investigating, and prosecuting instances of domestic violence and sex crimes.
Title II outlines improvements for services involving victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. One specific amendment works to assist Indian tribes to establish, maintain and expand rape crisis centers in order to better aid sexual assault victims. This act will particularly help women in rural areas who otherwise would not have adequate access to these services.
Apart from bolstering programs for victims, the VAWRA also works to implement preventative measures. Title III amends the Public Health Services Act to extend the authorization for grants funding rape prevention and education programs. This extension will work to educate the community, in the hopes of preventing violence before it happens. Additionally, it establishes a minimum allocation, requiring states to reserve a specific amount of funding for sexual assault and violence coalitions. This includes enhancing services on college campuses.
Appropriations will be made for grants from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, academic institutions and organizations, allowing them to conduct research examining best practices for reducing and preventing violence against women and children. The act will strengthen the healthcare system’s response to violence and sexual assault—allowing for development and expansion of sexual assault forensic examinations.
The Immigration and Nationality Act will be altered to re-define nonimmigrant U-visa to include victims of stalking. It will also make a child of an alien (who is a self-petitioner) eligible for lawful permanent resident status. A self-petitioner is a term used to describe an individual who is asking the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for protection from abuse and deportation when needing to leave an abusive situation. An individual requesting this status can file for his or herself, or a child under 21, who are being abused.
The “Safer Act” portion of the VAWRA ensures that the collection and processing of DNA evidence by law enforcement agencies from crimes is carried out in an appropriate and timely manner and in accordance with specified protocols and practices.
Battling the issue of violence and sexual assault from all angles, the VAWRA of 2013 will vastly extend the resources necessary to minimize violence. These resources aren’t merely for rehabilitation but include prevention and education, enhanced safety protocols and government accountability—all crucial parts of working to downsize violence against women, children and minorities.
– Caroline Logan