The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is a federal law that was passed by Congress, 286-138, which provides protection to battered immigrant spouses. VAWA allows for these battered spouses to file what is called a “self petition” which helps to stay the reliance on an abusive citizen or legal permanent residence spouse for their immigration status.
How does VAWA work in Nevada?
VAWA aims to end violence against women and girls by:
- Directing the Department of State and USAID to develop a comprehensive multi-sectoral strategy to prevent and respond to gender-based violence;
- Integrating efforts to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls as part of U.S. foreign assistance programs including health, education, economic growth, legal reform, political participation, social norm change, humanitarian assistance, and foreign security training, among others;
- Supporting overseas non-governmental and community-based organizations working to end violence against women and girls; and,
- Ensuring uniform data collection and accountability measures are in place to track investments in programs that address gender-based violence.
To be eligible to self petition, the abusive spouse must be a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident; or be a parent whose child has been abused by a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident; or be a battered child who has been abused by a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.
Statistics show that VAWA is making a big impact across the United States. Per a national census:
- In one 24-hour period, local domestic violence programs provided emergency shelter, transitional housing, supportive counseling, advocacy or other services to more than 67,000 victims.
- Over 90% of the 3,410 survivors participating in the national study reported that they felt safer, more hopeful, and had more safety strategies after visiting a shelter.
- Rape survivors were 59% more likely to file a police report than if these types of programs were not enacted.
The reason why VAWA is so important for women, as opposed to men, is because the statistics show that women are far more at risk for violence than men.
- Nearly one in five women have been raped in their lifetime as opposed to one out of every 71 men.
- One in four women has experienced severe physical violence while that number changes to one in seven for men.
- Women are more than four times as likely to be beaten than men.
- One in six women has been stalked in their lifetime as opposed to one out of every 19 men.
Reinstating VAWA, which was originally put into law in 1994 only to later be allowed to expire includes landmark protections for women in areas ranging from domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking that attempts to help save lives and hold offenders accountable in a cost saving and effective manner. VAWA holds rapists accountable for their crimes by strengthening federal penalties; helps victims by mandating that they are not forced to bear the expense of their own rape exams; and keeps victims safe by requiring a victim’s protection order be recognized in all states within the U.S.
Do you need an attorney in Nevada?
If you feel you need help understanding VAWA and its protections, seek the help of qualified and experienced legal counsel. Las Vegas Defense Group has years of experience in this area.