In response to the House of Representatives voting on and passing the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2021, Elisha Rhodes, Interim CEO, YWCA USA has issued the following statement:
“YWCA applauds the passage of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA) of 2021 (H.R. 1620) by the House of Representatives. VAWA is critical and lifesaving legislation that maintains safety protections important to all survivors, particularly women of color and other marginalized communities. In addition, this bill makes modest, but vital, improvements to provide the resources critical to supporting all survivors and their needs.
Today, we know that one in four women will experience domestic violence and more than three women are murdered by their partners each day. The renewal of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA) is long overdue, especially when the pandemic and economic crisis have only further increased the risks of abuse and the barriers to safety for women in the United States. Domestic violence is being called a pandemic within the COVID-19 pandemic, with growing evidence showing that the conditions of the pandemic have resulted in escalated rates of intimate partner violence and an increasing need for domestic and sexual violence services.
As the largest network of domestic and sexual violence service providers, YWCA sees first-hand the toll of gender-based violence on women and marginalized communities and the need for improved responses that address the realities they face. This bill strengthens protections and helps more survivors access resources they need to be safe, including in the areas of housing, economic security assistance, and improved healthcare system response that are so vital as our nation struggles through the COVID-19 crisis. Moreover, this bill invests in prevention, targets resources to reach underserved communities of color, and closes legal loopholes that leave too many women vulnerable to violence.
The YWCA network also sees how COVID-19 has exacerbated the crisis of domestic and sexual violence. According to our internal survey conducted in 2020, 69% of YWCAs that operate domestic violence hotlines and 64% of YWCAs that provide emergency shelter or transitional housing reported increases in demand for their services. In the face of these growing needs, survivors can’t wait any longer for VAWA to be reauthorized.
Every day that VAWA remains unauthorized is another day that Congress tells survivors to be silent. All eyes are on the Senate as this critical legislation moves forward, and we urge the Senate to reauthorize VAWA without delay.”