Commentary

Shocking statistics show need for congressional action on domestic violence

The statistics are shocking: A woman is murdered by a male, intimate partner with a gun every 16 hours; one in five women and one in 29 men are raped in their lifetimes; one in four women and one in seven men experience severe physical abuse by an intimate partner in their lifetimes; one in six women and one in 19 men experience stalking in their lifetimes; and these acts disproportionately impact women and members of underserved communities.

I am writing today to urge our community and our elected officials to support the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) with necessary enhancements and specific, targeted fixes. VAWA, for which authorization lapsed mid-February 2019, saves lives, supports families, and needs to be reauthorized promptly. A strong, bipartisan VAWA reauthorization bill (H.R. 1585) passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 263-158. The Senate is currently working on its own bill, and it must be substantially similar to the House bill to:

  • Maintain vital protections for all survivors;
  • Invest in prevention;
  • End impunity for non-Native perpetrators of sexual assault, child abuse co-occurring with domestic violence, stalking, sex trafficking, and assaults on tribal law enforcement officers on tribal lands;
  • Improve access to safe housing and economic independence;
  • Protect victims of dating violence and stalking from perpetrators with firearms;
  • Improve the healthcare system and workplace responses to the “four crimes” (domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking); and
  • Improve enforcement of court-ordered firearm relinquishment.

It is crucial that North Carolinians know where their elected officials stand when it comes to gender-based violence and protecting survivors. Every current Member of Congress should publicly declare their support for the reauthorization of VAWA with key enhancements and targeted fixes and with no rollbacks.

It is time to hold Congress accountable for helping to make sure all citizens and especially survivors are safe and free from violence and fear. North Carolinians call on Senators Burr and Tillis to support victims and survivors by supporting a bill substantially similar to H.R. 1585 in the Senate where it has been on the General Orders Calendar 66 since April 10, 2019.

Penney DePas (pictured at left) is Chair of the 2019 Women’s March on Raleigh Organizing Committee. Cross-posted from the NC NOW website.

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