A statement from leading domestic violence scholars explains why the Violance Against Women Act (VAWA) Reauthorization must go further beyond a focus on criminalization to put economic justice and racial equality at the center of policy reforms.
“…while we applaud much that is in the bill, we are concerned that like its predecessors, the bill focuses a significant amount of funding on criminal justice responses and much less on economic and racial justice initiatives that would support efforts to stop domestic violence. We urge Congress to do more to address economic and racial inequalities that make poor women–particularly poor women of color, undocumented women, and Native American women, more vulnerable to intimate violence. We urge Congress to recognize that economic policies that result in widespread unemployment and downward mobility increase domestic violence. We further urge Congress to recognize that as important as criminal remedies may be for some victims, a focus on criminal justice remedies will never be sufficient to empower women. 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.”
The scholars include Donna Coker, Deborah Weissman, Julie Goldscheid, Valli Kalei Kanuha, Leigh Goodmark Caroline Bettinger-Lopez, and James Ptacek. For more information, see VAWA remake updated 3 2 27 12