2021 Victories in Gender-Based Violence Legislation

Many civil rights advocates saw the rise of the Biden-Harris administration as the perfect time to push for new legislation to better support victims of gender-based violence and quickly worked towards policy changes throughout 2021. Their efforts were not in vain, and as we prepare to celebrate the new year, we must also commemorate these important legislative victories.

Passage of the American Rescue Plan

In March of 2021, the American Rescue Plan (ARP) was passed into law and began providing life-saving, survivor-centered funds. This new legislation was critical when the needs of domestic violence and sexual assault survivors became especially urgent during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ARP provides:

  • $180 million in Family Violence Prevention and Services Act funds for emergency shelter, housing, and other supports in every state and territory

  • $18 million for tribes to support domestic violence survivors

  • 50 million for culturally specific services for domestic violence and sexual assault survivors

  • $198 million for rape crisis centers

  • $1 million each for the National Domestic Violence Hotline and StrongHearts Native Helpline

The ARP also created $10 billion in housing vouchers and homelessness resources, given the strong ties between homelessness and domestic violence. Interestingly, the ARP offered the first federal relief funding explicitly targeted to sexual violence.

Passage of the VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act of 2021

The Victims of Crimes Act (VOCA) provides billions in victim services funding through federal criminal fines and fees deposited in the Crime Victims Fund (CVF). However, due to federal prosecuting practices changes, the funds dwindled throughout 2021. The “VOCA Fix” bill fixed how deposits are made into the CVF to restore these funds. VOCA funds support services such as shelters, housing, legal assistance, counseling, and more.

Fiscal Year 2022 Appropriations Packages

The development of the 2022 appropriations packages included increases in the Family Violence Prevention Services Act (FVPSA) and Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) funds.

Passage of the Family Violence Prevention and Services Improvement Act in the House of Representatives

The FVPSA provides funding to emergency shelters, crisis hotlines, counseling, and legal assistance programs throughout states, territories, and tribal communities. It helps to support over 1,500 community-based programs. The Improvement bill will increase funding, expand support for and access to culturally specific programs, strengthen the capacity of tribal programs, and invest in prevention. Moving forward, we hope you will join us in urging the Senate to pass the bipartisan companion bill, S. 1275!

Passage of VAWA Reauthorization in the House of Representatives

In March of 2021, the House passed the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2021. The reauthorization included funding for culturally specific providers, investment in prevention, and restoration of tribal jurisdiction. In October, the Senate completed a hearing on the reauthorization act, and negotiations are ongoing.

We thank the government officials who supported these victories and look forward to more strides towards ending domestic violence in 2022!

***Information retrieved from the National Network to End Domestic Violence***

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