Last updated on: 5/29/2008 4:16:00 PM PST
Is the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) a Good Law?


General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
The American Bar Association (ABA) provided background information about the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) on its website (accessed Sep. 28, 2005):

"The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was enacted in 1994 as part of omnibus anti-crime legislation. It was reauthorized in 2000... VAWA has created new federal rights for victims of domestic violence, imposed new funding eligibility requirements on government and authorized grants for new education and training. It has provided increased or new federal funding for a range of programs including rape prevention and education programs, safe homes for women, shelter grants, youth education and community programs. It has provided funding for attorney representation since 2000 for domestic violence victims in civil legal matters. It has also created new federal criminal offenses for interstate acts of domestic violence and federal support for enhanced enforcement of state protections and remedies for victims of domestic violence."

Sep. 28, 2005 - American Bar Association (ABA) 



PRO (yes)

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) stated its support of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act in a July 27, 2005 "Letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee Regarding the Violence Against Women Act of 2005, S. 1197":

"VAWA is one of the most effective pieces of legislation enacted to end domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. It has dramatically improved the law enforcement response to violence against women and has provided critical services necessary to support women and children in their struggle to overcome abusive situations."

Feb. 27, 2005 - American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) 



Joseph R. Biden, Jr., JD, Senator (D-DE), stated in a June 8, 2005 press release, "Biden, Hatch, and Specter Usher Violence Against Woman Act into 21st Century with VAWA 2005":

"We broke tremendous ground in 1994 and 2000. We wrote new domestic violence laws. We outlawed marital rape. We distributed over $3.8 billion dollars to states and towns to train and support police, lawyers, judges, nurses, shelter directors and advocates to end domestic violence and sexual assault. And as a result, we've seen an almost 50% drop in domestic violence. But we must do more...

The Violence Against Women Act helped Americans recognize battered women are survivors worthy of our support, not women who should wear long sleeves and sunglasses to work to hide their bruises."

June 8, 2005 - Joseph R. Biden, Jr., JD 



The National Organization for Women (NOW) published an article by Pat Reuss and Courtney Aguirre in Spring 2005, titled "VAWA 2005: New Prevention Initiatives Address the Needs and Fears of Young People and Work to Break the Cycle of Violence":

"It's incredible to think that more than a decade has passed since the first Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was signed into law in 1994. Since its passage, VAWA has impacted women of all ages and backgrounds, all races and religions and all communities throughout the nation.

VAWA impacts so many women because it allocates vital funding to a variety of programs—everything from research grants and legal assistance to community initiatives and assistance for immigrant families. VAWA's ability to affect change in the past decade proves the legislation's power to combat domestic violence, dating violence, and sexual assault and in turn help women and children lead healthy and safe lives."

Spring 2005 - National Organization for Women (NOW) 



The National Sexual Violence Resource Center newsletter Spring/Summer 2004 issue published an article by Susan Lewis, PhD, titled "Ten Years of VAWA, Strengthening Anti-Sexual Violence Work," which stated:

"According to almost everyone associated with victim services or prevention of violence against women, the passage of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in 1994 made an enormous, positive difference. This landmark legislation provided new life to small struggling rape crisis centers and shelters by offering a major transfusion of lifeblood in the form of federal funding. It promoted new approaches to combat many forms of violence against women and encouraged community involvement; most importantly, it provided for more and better services and improved opportunities for justice for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking."

Spring/Summer 2004 - National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) 



CON (no)

Phyllis Schlafly, JD, Founder and President of Eagle Forum, wrote in her July 20, 2005 column, "Time to Defund Feminist Pork," for the Eagle Forum website:

"Let's have a reality check. VAWA's gender-specific title is pejorative: it's based on the false, unscientific, unjust, and blatantly offensive premise that men are innately violent and abusive toward women, making all women victims of men...

VAWA encourages women to make false allegations, and then petition for full child custody and a denial of all fathers' rights to see their own children... A woman seeking help from a VAWA-funded center is not offered any options except to leave her husband, divorce him, accuse him of being a criminal, and have her sons targeted as suspects in future crimes...

VAWA uses a definition of domestic violence that blurs the difference between violent action and run-of-the-mill marital tiffs and arguments. Definitions of abuse can even include minor insults and refusing to help with child care or housework...

It's time to stop VAWA from spending any more taxpayers' money to promote family dissolution and fatherless children."

July 20, 2005 - Phyllis Schlafly, JD 



Cathy Young, columnist for the Boston Globe and Reason, wrote in her May 19, 2000 article for the Wall Street Journal titled "High Court Ruling is Not a 'Setback' for Women":

"Under VAWA, nearly all rapes and spousal assaults are presumed, by definition, to be 'gender-motivated.' One reason orthodox feminists saw VAWA as a major achievement was that it endorsed a key tenet of their creed: that male violence against women is a form of collective political terrorism, both an expression of woman-hating and a deliberate strategy to perpetuate patriarchal dominance...

Most VAWA supporters frankly admit that the real purpose of the law is to send a message about violence against women. That message, however, is not a message of equality. It's a message that combines the traditional paternalistic belief that women deserve special protection from harm with the feminist fictions of a male 'war against women,' pitting the sexes against each other instead of treating offenders and victims as individuals."

May 19, 2000 - Cathy Young 



Wendy McElroy, research fellow at the Independent Institute, wrote in her June 20, 2005 article for FoxNews.com titled, "Congress Should Kill Discriminatory Domestic Violence Act":

"Largely viewed as an anti-domestic violence measure, VAWA has become a flashpoint for the men's rights advocates who see it instead as the living symbol of anti-male bias in law.

Although a significant number of domestic violence victims are male, VAWA defines victims as female. As one result, tax-funded domestic violence shelters and services assist women and routinely turn away men, often including older male children... A lower-bound figure is provided by a recent DOJ study: Men constituted 27 percent of the victims of family violence between 1998 and 2002...

By omitting male victims from their efforts, however, domestic violence activists create the impression of a national epidemic that uniquely victimizes women who require unique protection.

I believe VAWA is not only ideologically inspired and discriminatory, it is also an example of why bureaucracy-driven solutions to human problems do not work."

June 20, 2005 - Wendy McElroy