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12/14/2014 7:59:27 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
The Violence Against Women Act was enacted in 1994 by President Bill Clinton to prevent and treat intimate partner abuse. Since that time, many abused women have received sorely needed services and public awareness of the problem has been raised.
But has VAWA reduced the overall level of partner abuse?
Have VAWA programs paid heed to the needs and wishes of abused women?
Have they respected and supported the families and communities in which women live?
Have VAWA pro-grams balanced the needs of victims with the due process rights of alleged offenders?
In short, has the Violence against Women Act delivered on its promises to women?
To answer those questions, we first need to understand the dynamics of partner aggression. Over 200 scholarly studies of domestic violence reveal that:
Women are at least as likely as men to engage in partner violence.
In about half of all cases, the aggression is mutual and there is no clear-cut initiator.
About two-thirds of those cases are minor (e.g., shoving, throwing a pillow), while the remaining one-third involve severe incidents (e.g., hitting with a fist or attacking with a weapon).
The Violence against Women Act provides funding to develop counseling, medical, and other services for victims of domestic violence; to step up law enforcement programs to prevent partner assault; and to aggressively prosecute perpetrators.
As a result, 1,500 domestic violence laws have been passed at the state level that over-hauled the legal framework for addressing partner abuse.
Provide for a broad range of benefits to domestic violence victims.
Mandate treatment programs for abuse perpetrators.
Allow for the easy availability of domestic restraining orders.
Encourage or mandate arrest.
Encourage jurisdictions to adopt no-drop prosecution policies.
But many of these laws are based on questionable assumptions and may infringe on civil liberties. A sizable number of VAWA-funded services lack evidence of effectiveness. Indeed, VAWA programs have been criticized for ignoring a large segment of the domestic violence problem.
What is your take on this subject?