Over a lifetime, nearly one in two women will be victims of sexual violence. The Violence Against Women Act empowers local communities to fight back, providing essential resources to combat domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.
The law has been an unqualified success. Since its passage in 1994, women killed by an intimate partner have decreased 34%.
But unless Congress reauthorizes the Violence Against Women Act this year, all of this progress could be reversed. The new version of the bill not only continues proven programs, but extends protections to more people, including those in same-sex relationships.
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UNITED NATIONS (BNO NEWS) — The United Nations (UN) has called on the U.S. Government to better protect women from domestic violence, saying there are ‘systemic failures’ which require investigation.
An independent UN human rights expert said U.S. officials should reassess existing mechanisms to protect women after a regional body found it wanting in defending a battered woman and her three murdered children from her ex-husband.
Rashida Manjoo, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, called on the U.S. Government to also reassess its ways of protecting victims and punishing offenders, as well as establish meaningful standards for enforcement of protection orders and impose consequences for a failure to enforce them.
Jessica Lenahan, a victim of domestic violence along with her daughters Leslie, 7, Katheryn, 8, and Rebecca Gonzales, 10, obtained a restraining order against her ex-husband Simon Gonzalez from the Colorado state courts in 1999.
On June 22 and 23, 1999, Lenahan contacted the Castle Rock Police Department eight times as she did not know where her daughters were. Later that morning, Simon Gonzales drove his pick-up truck to the Police Department and opened fired through the window. Police returned fire, and in an exchange of gunfire, he was killed. The dead bodies of the three girls were found in his truck.
According to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACR), the fragmented police response did not respect the terms of the restraining order, and that Colorado state did not duly investigate Lenahan’s complaints. It also called on the U.S. to conduct a full investigation into these systemic failures and reinforce through legislation the mandatory character of protection orders.
“In my discussions with Government officials, victims, survivors, and advocates, including Jessica Lenahan, I found a lack of substantive protective legislation for domestic violence victims in the United States, as well as inadequate implementation of certain laws, policies and programs,” Manjoo stated after her fact-finding mission earlier this year.
Manjoo noted that the U.S. has landmark legislation such as the Violence Against Women Act to address the high incidence of violence against women. However, “there is little in terms of legally binding federal provisions which provide substantive protection or prevention for acts of domestic violence against women,” she said.
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