The American Humanist Association has signed the below letter by the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women asking for reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.
January 29, 2013
We, the undersigned local, tribal, and national organizations, represent and support millions of victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking throughout the United States, American Indian Tribes and territories. On behalf of the victims we represent, the professionals who serve them and the communities that sustain them, we ask that you support the Violence Against Women Act’s (VAWA) reauthorization by co-sponsoring and voting for S.47. As you know, VAWA is slated to come to the Senate floor as early as next week and we are asking you to take a leadership role in ensuring that this landmark bi-partisan bill will continue its important work.
VAWA’s programs support state, tribal and local efforts to address the pervasive and insidious crimes of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. These programs have made great progress towards reducing the violence, helping victims to be healthy and feel safe and holding perpetrators accountable. This critical legislation must be reauthorized to ensure a continued response to these crimes.
Since its original passage in 1994, VAWA has dramatically enhanced our nation’s response to violence against girls and women, boys and men. More victims report domestic violence to the police and the rate of non-fatal intimate partner violence against women has decreased by 64%. The sexual assault services program in VAWA helps rape crisis centers keep their doors open to provide the frontline response to victims of rape. VAWA provides for a coordinated community approach, improving collaboration between law enforcement and victim services providers to better meet the needs of victims. These comprehensive and cost-effective programs not only save lives, they also save money. In fact, VAWA saved nearly $12.6 billion in net averted social costs in just its first six years.
VAWA has unquestionably improved the national response to these terrible crimes. Nonetheless, much work remains to be done to address unmet needs and enhance access to protections and services for all victims. We urge you to sponsor and vote for S. 47 in order to build upon VAWA’s successes and continue to enhance our nation’s ability to promote an end to this violence, to hold perpetrators accountable and to keep victims and their families safe from future harm.