By Edupliance | 29th February, 2016

If you are a person who suffers from emotional, physical abuse or being stalked by someone, you have the right to invoke VAWA. VAWA protects people, especially women and children from crimes of passion, hate, terrorization and threats of deportation. Ever since VAWA was passed in 1994, it has induced positive change. USA is becoming safer each day thanks to the efficacy of this law.

What is VAWA?

The Violence against Women Act, commonly known by the acronym VAWA, is a law that promises to safeguard the justice and safety for Native as well as Immigrant American Women, Children, and sometimes Men from various kinds of insidious crimes that harm the well-being of women.

Some of the heinous acts it protects these people from are – Sexual Assault, Surreptitious Stalking, Dating Abuse, Female Infanticide, Female Genital Mutilation, Acid Throwing, Date Rape, Genocidal Rape, Forced Rape, Forced Abortion, Marital Rape, Domestic Violence, Dowry Death, Honor Killing, Forced Pregnancy, Forced Marriage, Forced Prostitution, Violence Against Prostitutes, Sexual Violence, Sexual Slavery, Breast Ironing, Human Trafficking, Murder of Pregnant Women, etc.

In some rare cases, men affected by any kind of physical/ emotional abuse may also apply for VAWA relief if they meet any/all eligibility requirements even though the law’s name entitles ‘women’ under its confines.

Why does it matter?

  • VAWA supports the safety and well-being of women and children who are battered endlessly due to domestic violence. It aims to penalize anybody who harms a woman for inexplicable or baseless reasons. In short, VAWA saves lives.
  • Not only is it cost-effective, but since it is administered by the Departments of Justice (DOJ) and the Health and Human Services (HHS), they have improved federal and local crimes rates by reducing the number of incidents.
  • There has been an increase in reporting of such crimes by as much as 51% due to the efficacy of this law. The number of fatalities due to the crimes of an intimate partner has decreased by more than 34% for women. Non-fatal violence by an intimate partner has come down by 67%.
  • For immigrant survivors of abuse, the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act, helps safeguard their safety by maintaining their right to Justice against USC’s with the help of U Visas and self-filed petitions.
  • For the LGBT community, survivors of such crimes take the help of VAWA to prevent sex discrimination, trauma and abuse. VAWA helps them find safety from crimes of passion and disdain and provides them optimum protection from offenders.
  • Since Native American women cannot seek justice against non-Native offenders (their Tribal courts do not allow this), a prosecution clause added in 2013 to VAWA gives Tribal courts major authority to hold non-Native members prosecutable and accountable, if guilty.
  • Thanks to many protections laid down in 2005, survivors of domestic violence are provided assisted housing to battered individuals and protects all kinds of assault victims in times of emergency and provides them with quick and effective housing transfer.
  • To combat campus violence, VAWA 2013 now forces schools and colleges to record incidences of dating violence and report them to the police.

How to comply with VAWA?

If you are a victim of domestic violence, but do not think that you qualify for immigration relief under VAWA, there may be other ways that you can obtain lawful immigration status in the United States. For example, If you were not married to the abuser or the abuser was not a USC or LPR, you may still qualify for U nonimmigrant status. The best way to determine your eligibility is to discuss your personal situation with an immigration attorney with experience in VAWA.

Practical Suggestions

  • Generally, college students, married wives, children from divorced marriages are among those who are the most vulnerable to incidents like dating violence, rape, domestic violence and sexual agony. It is best to help such people by inducing them to understand the provisions in VAWA 2013 and report any crime if they are USC’s or if the aggressor is a USC.
  • To help prevent such crimes in the first instance, it is imminent to educate battered and abused victims on their rights and available resources for justice.
  • To promote VAWA as a law, VAWA grants should be promoted to meet the financial and domestic needs of millions of abused victims residing in the country (including immigrants).

Penalty for Non-Compliance

  • Penalties for violating the norms of VAWA can range from jail time of five years to life in a federal prison. Courts may also impose a hefty fine to pay expenses for the victim’s rehabilitation. Here is the breakdown:
  • If the incident did not cause any permanent disfigurement, any life-threatening injuries, death and did not involve the use of a lethal weapon – up to five years in a local prison.
  • If the incident causes many serious bodily injury and was done so by a lethal weapon – up to ten years in a local prison
  • If the victim sustains a life-threatening injury, but is permanently disfigured – up to twenty years in prison
  • If the victim succumbs to injuries or dies due to assault – up to life in a federal prison.

 

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