Violence Against Women Act

The American Congress has taken special interest in Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) since the time of its enactment in 1994 (P.L. 103-322). Originally the act was intended to change attitude of the people towards instances of domestic violence, spread awareness about domestic violence, improve services and provisions for the victims, and revise the procedure by which the criminal justice system responds to domestic violence and sex crimes. The legislation created new programs within the Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Health and Human Services (HHS) aiming to reduce the cases of domestic violence and improve the response and recovery time for domestic violence incidents.


                                             BACKGROUND AND HISTORY OF VAWA

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was passed by American Congress as Title IV of the  “Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (P.L. 103-322)”. This act is based on violent crime, and cases of violence against women to be specific. It was made to enhance investigations and prosecutions of sex offenders and offenses by enhancing sentencing of federal sex offenders; declaring restitution mandatory for victims of federal sex offenses; and providing various grants to law enforcement entities for investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women.


                                                      GRANT PROGRAMS

Under VAWA a number of grant programs had been created for a wide range of activities, including programs aimed at

(1) prevention of domestic violence and other related crimes;

(2) encourage collaboration among various law and order enforcement bodies with respect to services for the victims of domestic violence and related crimes;

(3) investigating and prosecuting domestic violence and related crimes;

(4) addressing the needs of individuals in a special population group (e.g., elderly, disabled, children and youth, individuals of ethnic and racial communities, and nonimmigrant women).

The authority of administration of VAWA has been granted to the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women and Office of Justice Programs as well as by the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.




VAWA has improved the criminal justice response to violence against women by:

 • holding rapists accountable for their crimes by strengthening federal penalties

for repeat sex offenders and creating a federal “rape shield law,” which is

intended to prevent offenders from using victims’ past sexual conduct against

them during a rape trial;

 • mandating that victims, no matter their income levels, are not forced to bear the

expense of their own rape exams or for service of a protection order;

 • keeping victims safe by requiring that a victim’s protection order will be

recognized and enforced in all state, tribal, and territorial jurisdictions within

the United States;

 • increasing rates of prosecution, conviction, and sentencing of offenders by

helping communities develop dedicated law enforcement and prosecution units

and domestic violence dockets;

 • ensuring that police respond to crisis calls and judges understand the realities of

domestic and sexual violence by training law enforcement officers, prosecutors,

victim advocates and judges; VAWA funds train over 500,000 law enforcement

officers, prosecutors, judges, and other personnel every year;

 • providing additional tools for protecting women in Indian country by creating a

new federal habitual offender crime and authorizing warrantless arrest authority

for federal law enforcement officers who determine there is probable cause

when responding to domestic violence cases.


Recently various campaigns asking for the reauthorization of Violence Against Women Act have resurfaced the demand for the reconsideration and re-built of the act, which is fetching the support from various republican leaders Mitch McConell being one of them. 22 republican senators took a risky stand recently opposing the reauthorization of the act. The whole logic behind the opposition of the act is based on the facts that brought forward various instances of frauds, waste and abuse of the act due to the oversight being given to it. Various other loopholes had been sighted by the experts quoting that “The turn of events will decide the power as well as the future outcomes, that makes consolidation of the act mandatory.”