The Violence Against Women Act has been around since 1994. Its enactment addressed concerns about violence, especially towards women, although it also helps stepfamilies, children and men.
Some of the primary goals of the act are to prevent violent crime, change public attitudes and better serve the needs of the victims.
Basics of the VAWA
According to the Federation of American Scientists, Congressional Research Service, the Violence Against Women Act consists of programs that address sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking and dating violence. The act consists of grants that address prevention, community response and the criminal justice system.
Some of the things that the VAWA allows for include:
- Mandated victim restitution for certain federal sex offenses
- Enhanced sentencing of repeat offenders on the federal level
- Grant authorization to law enforcement agencies to investigate violent crimes and prosecute the offenders
The Office on Violence Against Women authorizes and oversees most of the VAWA programs. Some examples of these include Justice for Families, Civil Legal Assistance for Victims, Rape Survivor Child Custody Act, Consolidated Youth Oriented Program and Sexual Assault Services.
Reauthorization of the law
Periodically, Congress reauthorizes the law. According to Huff Post, this does not mean the law expires. Rather, it offers the opportunity to strengthen the law and update the numerous grant programs. The last reauthorization of the act was in 2013, and it consisted of reauthorizing most of the grant programs and adding some new ones. It established a non-discrimination provision and enhanced the protection of a victim’s personally identifiable information. It also added improved measures to fight sex trafficking.