WASHINGTON, DC – To commemorate Domestic Violence Awareness Month this October, the Interfaith Domestic Violence Coalition is calling on Congress to swiftly reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), our nation’s most critical law that supports law enforcement training and services for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking.
One in four women in the United States has experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner in her lifetime while nearly one in five has been raped in her lifetime. Since its passage in 1994, VAWA has transformed the national response to violence against women. More victims are coming forward than ever before to access lifesaving services and move from crisis to stability. Despite VAWA’s comprehensive and cost saving responses, Congress has failed to pass a final reauthorization bill that continues VAWA’s lifesaving programs while strengthening protections for vulnerable populations.
More after the jump.
“Domestic violence is a crisis of epidemic proportions that affects all of our diverse religious communities,” said Lori Weinstein, Executive Director of Jewish Women International. “As a Coalition, we are calling on Congress to work with the faith community to pass a final, inclusive Violence Against Women Act reauthorization that builds upon past successes and includes critical new protections for all victims.”
In times of crisis, victims of violence often turn to their clergy and houses of worship for guidance and support. Faith leaders are on the front lines each day identifying victims, providing refuge and support, referring victims and their families to VAWA programs and services, and serving as victim advocates in their communities.
“As faith leaders, we see the consequences of sexual and domestic violence every week. We count on our local partners, from shelters to advocates to law enforcement to the courts, to serve as resources in our communities, provide training to community stakeholders and support victims. And they count on VAWA to continue to do this lifesaving work. As a Coalition, we are calling on Congress to reauthorize VAWA now and avoid jeopardizing nearly 20 years of progress,” said Rev. Dr. Marie Fortune, Founder of FaithTrust Institute.
“For many victims, faith is central to their identity, their decision making, and their healing,” said Rev. Dr. Anne Marie Hunter, Director of Safe Havens Interfaith Partnership Against Domestic Violence. “It is imperative that service providers and faith communities build respectful, trusting collaborations that support victims and increase access to and effectiveness of services. The faith community is proud to stand strongly with our secular partners united by our commitment to reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.”
“At the Peaceful Families Project, a national organization working to end abuse in the Muslim community, we believe that a better understanding of religious and cultural values can be used as a resource to prevent domestic violence, and that religion and culture should never be used to justify abuse. For 18 years, VAWA has played a key role in violence prevention and awareness. Congress must act quickly to reauthorize this critical legislation so that VAWA can continue to serve victims and expand education around this critical issue,” said Mona Malik, President of the Peaceful Families Project.
“For Christians, reauthorizing an effective and inclusive Violence Against Women Act isn’t a legislative issue, it’s a moral issue. VAWA save lives and needs to be reauthorized by Congress immediately,” said Amee Paparella, Director and Organizer for Women’s Advocacy of the United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society.
Jewish Women International convened the Interfaith Domestic Violence Coalition in 2007 to unite the collective energies and visions of the faith communities to work together in promoting national domestic violence legislation to protect women and children. Comprised of 35 organizations, this growing coalition represents many faiths and denominations and millions of congregants spanning diverse faith communities. To learn more about the Interfaith Domestic Violence Coalition, visit www.jwi.org/ic.