Violence Against Women Act of 1998

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The statistics on violence against women has in the recent past become alarming. In accordance to statistics gathered by the FBI at least one woman is raped in the United States every five minutes. The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 which is commonly known as VAWA was implemented into law as a result of extensive and exhaustive investigations for four years. The investigations were mainly focused on the rampant domestic violence, stalking as well as sexual assault that was perpetrated against women. A series of meetings were held during the period between 1990 and 1994, and the Congress received testimonies from numerous quarters, for instance, State attorney general, the federal and state law enforcement officials, physicians and legal scholars. According to the Congresss comprehensive investigation, it was evident that violence against women had become a pervasive concern which required national attention (Auchter and Moore). In response to the recommendations by the committee, the Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act as an encyclopedic legislative package that was aimed at eradicating any form of injustice against women most especially violence.

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The passing of the Violence Against Women Act followed by legislations enacted later, led to the development of new government laws that aimed at kicking out domestic violence in the different states. The new laws incorporated stalking and the use of firearms, and emphasis was put on the severity of the federal penalties for repeat sex offenders as a means to mitigate these crimes. Additionally, the Violence Against Women Act made it mandatory for all the states and territories to strictly put in place and implement the protection orders that were issued by any other state, territories and tribes. The Violence Against Women Act came as a legal solace for the dilapidated immigrants by preventing the criminals from using the immigration law as a means to control the battered victims. Also, the Violence Against Women Act gave a directive for allocation of funds that would go to support in building accommodation for the battered women, implementation of domestic violence intervention strategies as well as prevention programs, rape education, and other necessary programs to improve law enforcement, prosecution, court and the response services to injustices committed against women (Coker).

The Violence Against Women Act established the Departments Office on Violence Against Women to cater for permanent government response to the crimes committed against women. The legislation allocated approximately $ 1.6 billion over duration of 6 years to conduct investigations as well as prosecute any violent crimes perpetrated against women. Additionally, the act established automated and compulsory reparation for those who are convicted. The primary function of the Violence against women Act is to address any injustices committed against women, which included domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and invasion of privacy. The act underscores on an establishment of a coordinated community care program for the law enforcement. Victim services, attorneys and the prosecutors. Additionally, Violence against Women Act provides funds for support groups, houses, and shelters for the battered women and also funding the training of the personals who attend the battered women. The Violence Against Women Act makes Intimate Partner Violence a federal crime once the State border is crossed. It also provides funds in support of the programs that prevent violence against women or even provide support services to women who have been violence victims. This has the act extend the mandate to working with tribes as well as tribal organizations to ensure they bring to end any form of injustice such as domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assaults and invasion of privacy and personal space against the Native American Women (Coker). The Violence Against Women Act uniquely targets women and their children to pinpoint the nation's response to domestic as well as sexual violence and stalking.


There are numerous provisions of the Violence Against Women Act for instance:

Provision of empirical solutions to facilitate the involvement of the state's court system, as well as legal systems to assist the society, respond appropriately to injustices committed against women such as domestic and sexual violence.

Creation of the Sexual Assault Services Program, which is a state funding channel that is committed to providing services for the victims of domestic and sexual violence.

Provision of housing resources to ensure that the violence victims do not end up being homeless. Additionally, it ensures that the violence victims can reach the criminal justice system without compromising their housing.

Provision of a radical approach to assist the younger generation especially the teens and young adult who are exposed to domestic and sexual violence.

Drastic improvement in the response to violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women, provision of funds for crucial research as well as well as the establishment of the tribal registry to identify sexual offenders.

Provision of training and education to health care providers to ensure there is improvement the health care systems response to the violence victims.

Creation of a National Resource Center to handle workplace Responses. This would significantly assist the employers to ensure that workplaces are safer as well as productive by supporting the employees who fall victims of sexual violence.

Recognition of special occurrences that non-citizen survivors of domestic or sexual violence may face and come up with strategies that would let the battered spouse and their children leave the abusive family without violating the immigration status.

Specific Definitions

1. Domestic violence

This is defined as any form of abuse perpetrated against either an adult or a minor who happens to be a spouse or an Ex-spouse, companion or a former companion or an individual with who the perpetrator has a kid, has a current dating or engagement relationship or has a prior dating or engagement relationship (KIRBY).

2. Dating Violence

This is defined as any form of abuse executed by an individual who is currently or has prior been in a social relationship especially of a romantic or intimate nature with the violence victim.

3. Stalking

This is referred to as behavior by an individual whereby, they frequently engage in demeanor intended at a certain person that puts that person in great fear for their safety as well as the safety of the others and considerable emotional fear.

4. Sexual Harassment

The human right activists define it as any disturbing sexual advances, demand for sexual favors or any verbal, nonverbal and physical actions that are sexual in nature and which are often involuntary to the victim. Sexual harassment is actions that either explicitly or implicitly interferes with individuals learning or employment or creates an environment in which the victim will feel intimidated, hostile or even offensive. Sexual harassment entails sexual violence (Levine). There are numerous sexual misconducts that may result in sexual harassment. For instance;

The use of electronic devices for recording, photographing or even transmitting any intimate or sexual comments of another person.

Posting of false information on an electronic site that involves sex or sexual activities.

5. Sexual Assaults

i. Rape

This is a sexual intercourse act that is done without the consent of one individual that is the victim. This may be through force, duress, threat, fear or violence. Additionally, rape may occur if a person is prevented from resisting by being administered with intoxicating substances or when they fall unconscious (Linton).

ii. Sexual Battery

This is the unsought and unwanted touch of any intimate part of another persons body. This entails even situations where the victim is not in a position to resist due to an effect of alcohol or drug use.

iii. Forcible Sodomy

This is either oral or anal sexual intercourse with another individual through force or duress and without the victims consent. This may happen in cases where the victim cannot give consent due to their age or mental and physical incapability (Linton).

iv. Sexual assault with an object

This is the use of any object to unlawfully penetrate despite how slight the genitals or the anal opening of another individual against their will. This may be due to their young age or mental or physical incapability.

6. Consent

i. Consent is informed

Consent has to be the assenting, unambiguous and sensible decision by every participant to partake in mutually agreed on sexual activity.

ii. Consent must be Voluntary

Consent should be given in the absence of intimidation, force, compulsion or threats. Consent entails cooperation in the act expressing intent to getting involved in the act through free will.

The Violence Against Women Act was enacted as a means of controlling injustices associated with domestic violence, sexual assaults, and invasion of private and personal space. This came as a big win for women groups in 1994 who had consistently lobbied persuading the Congress to enact federal protection for women since the states had failed to address the issues on violence against women. The legislation brought the first state criminal law that was against assault and it became mandatory for every state to grant full faith as well as credit to all the laws of protection presented all over the United States (Manjoo). The effort to pass this legislation had started way back in 1990 when it was drafted by Vice President Joseph Biden who by then was the Senator from Delaware. He worked on the draft with the assistance of the staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Legal Momentum as well as other experts and organizations. Before the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, there were women movements that greatly politicized domestic violence in the 1960s and 1970s.They were calling for public attention on how men had exercised dominance over women. They cried foul on how wife abused had spread in all economic as well as social levels. There were legislations that were enacted to protect women who fall victims of domestic violence. For Instance, Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 28k, sec.34b, 1970 which allowed a woman in immediate danger to get an order to have the husband vacate their premises as she prepares for a divorce or separate maintenance. Violation of this court order would be taken as trespass (Pillay).

The proponents of the Violence Against Women Act came from a wide range of organizations, and it is worth noting that majority of these organizations that sailed this act through had concrete grass root reach in the society. Their argument to support this act was that any form of violence against women can be illustrated as a mode of discrimination based on an individuals sex. Considering the environment of fear that women are subjected, they shy off from participating equally as their male counterparts with the society setting. Hence, it is evident that the gender-based violence which are either domestic or sexual transform the females into second-class citizens. The campaigners of the Violence Against Women Act were of the opinion that the injustice perpetrated against the females is a prevalent social vice that has significantly led to women shunning from taking active roles in their homes, workplace and the society as a whole. The existing state and federal laws were notably inadequate to address the concern fully. The Congress heard various testimonies from different witness drawn from diverse backgrounds, for instance, Legal scholars, Violence victims, Prosecutors, and law enforcement personals. The Vio...

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