Congressman Torres Votes to Reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act

Mar 17, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Torres voted to pass H.R. 1620, a bipartisan, long-term Violence Against Women Act reauthorization.  The landmark Violence Against Women Act of 1994 ushered in transformative progress by calling for the protection of all Americans from violence and abuse, and working to ensure all victims and survivors have the support they need.  This critical reauthorization will safeguard and further strengthen these life-saving protections for women throughout New York City and across the country.

“The Violence Against Women Act is lifesaving legislation that maintains the safety, resources, & protections critical to survivors, particularly those in marginalized communities. I’m proud to cosponsor the lifesaving Violence Against Women Act reauthorization,” said Rep. Torres. 

Rep. Ritchie Torres originally submitted an amendment to the VAWA that was supported by the House Judiciary Committee and incorporated into the main text of the bill. 

The addition mandates that state or local governments submit an annual report to the Attorney General on the number of hospitals within their jurisdiction that have sexual assault response teams and the average response time of each team to the needs of rape and sexual assault victims. The submission of this annual report is necessary for state and local governments to be eligible for Department of Justice funding.

This VAWA reauthorization builds upon the progress forged over the two-and-a-half decades since this legislation was first passed: since then, the rate of domestic violence in America has fallen by half.  But more protections are needed, especially as 1 in 3 women still experience domestic violence, and as the coronavirus crisis has forced many women to quarantine in unsafe domestic situations.

This latest robust and bipartisan long-term reauthorization improves the current law, including by:

  • Making vital new investments in violence prevention;
  • Strengthening essential protections for the most vulnerable, including immigrant, LGBTQ and Native American women and specifically supporting communities of color in a culturally-sensitive way;
  • Improving services for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking;
  • Making improvements in the criminal justice response to gender-based violence and improving the health care system’s response to domestic violence;
  • Helping stop abusers and stalkers from obtaining firearms; and
  • Expanding protections for victims’ and survivors’ financial security, including housing protections and anti-discrimination protections in the workplace.

“As lockdowns and isolation have trapped those in abusive relationships at home and with little resources for escape, the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization could not be more timely. Marginalized communities are disproportionately affected with rates of abuse increasing by 50% or higher,” continued Congressman Torres. “I will continue to fight for the Women of the South Bronx until this legislation is on the President’s desk.” 

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