The 1994 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) acknowledged that domestic violence and sexual assault are crimes under the law. It also provided federal resources for community-coordinated responses to violence against women. According to the Department of Justice, VAWA’s impact is clear: domestic violence is down, more women report attacks, and law enforcement has improved its investigation and prosecution of the crimes.
VAWA was due for reauthorization in 2011 but did not pass the 112th Congress due to differences in the House and Senate bills. The Senate version included better training of law enforcement, victim service providers, and court personnel; improved protections for women in tribal communities; stronger LBGT-inclusive provisions; and makes it easier for immigrant victims of domestic violence to escape their abusing spouse or partner. The House version was a much weaker bill that will do less to prevent abuse and punish abusers. Due to these differences, the bill did not pass in the 112th Congress.
In the 113th Congress, the House and Senate must swiftly move forward with a strong VAWA bill that protects all victims.
See Rabbi David Saperstein's remarks at a June 26 pro-VAWA rally.
Jewish texts explicitly prohibit a man from forcing his wife to have sexual relations. Rami b. Hama said in the name of R. Assi: "It is forbidden for a man to compel his wife to fulfill the mitzvah [to have sexual relations], as it is said 'and he that hastens with his feet sins' (Proverbs 19:2)." R. Joshua b. Levi said: "Any man who compels his wife to have intercourse will have unworthy (inferior) children."
In the Book of Women, Maimonidies writes: "And thus the sages commanded that a man should honor his wife more than he honors himself, and love her as he loves himself. And if he has money, he should increase her benefits according to his wealth. He should not intimidate her too much; he should speak with her gently, and should be neither saddened nor angry." (Sefer Nashim 15:19)
In e-mails, faxes and phone calls, please contact your Members of Congress and urge them to pass VAWA and to support strong protections for immigrant, LGBT, and Native American victims. The Capitol Switchboard can be reached at 202.224.3121. You can also send an e-mail by entering your Zip Code.
For more information, please contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Sarah Krinsky at 202.387.2800.