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Domestic Violence Violence Against Women Act

Women Say VAWA Programs Lack Effectiveness

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Women Say VAWA Programs Lack Effectiveness, Fail to Address Root Causes

Coalition to End Domestic Violence

March 17, 2021

Numerous women believe the Violence Against Women Act has not been effective in reducing partner violence because it has not addressed the root causes:

  1. “We have no evidence to date that VAWA has led to a decrease in the overall levels of violence against women.” — Angela Moore Parmley, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice
  2. “We have an authority in the Department of Justice who says that there’s absolutely no evidence to date that VAWA has led to a decrease in the overall levels of violence against women.” — Janice Shaw Crouse, PhD, Senior Fellow, Beverly LaHaye Institute
  3. “There is limited empirical support for the assumption that mandatory arrest and prosecution policies in domestic violence cases have the intended effect of reducing violence against women.” — Linda G. Mills, Professor of Social Work, Public Policy, and Law, New York University
  4. “Many women’s advocates have come to question whether VAWA’s approach—which relies heavily on law enforcement to reduce the incidence of sexual assault and domestic violence—could be having adverse effects. In the two decades since its passage, VAWA has been criticized by anti-violence campaigners who believe it may fuel mass incarceration but fail to address the root problems of gender violence.” — Rebecca Burns, Award-winning investigative reporter
  5. “Between 2000 and 2010, rates of domestic violence actually fell less than the drop in the overall crime rate – at a time when VAWA was pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into the criminal system.” — Leigh Goodmark, Professor, University of Maryland Law School
  6. “Feminist efforts to reform rape and domestic violence law have been criticized by some for relying too much on state power and criminal punishment, a particular concern in an era of unprecedented U.S. incarceration and a persistently racially biased criminal punishment system.” — Giovanna Shay, Assistant Professor of Law at Western New England College School of Law
  7. “Many women who experience domestic violence do not want the current limited menu of criminal justice responses. We urge Congress, therefore, to consider and support programs that explore alternatives to the current criminal adjudication models, and that address the underlying causes of abuse.” — Caroline Bettinger-López, Professor, University of Miami School of Law
  8. “As it is currently organized, the criminal justice system doesn’t protect the vulnerable in our society. It punishes them.” — Elizabeth Schulte, journalist
  9. “Framing violence against women as a criminal issue rather than, for example, a civil rights, human rights, or public health issue, inevitably narrows the framework for understanding the scope, causes, consequences, and remedies for violence against women.” — Donna Coker, Professor, University of Miami School of Law
  10. “Men experience the same identical feelings that women experience in violent relationships. Yet our American society has embraced the notion that men can and should ‘take it.’” –Christine Grant, University of Pennsylvania, Nursing Education