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Brief # 105: Health and Gender Policy

The Biden Agenda for Women Series Part 4: Ending Violence Against Women

By Erin McNemar

May 3, 2021

Policy

President Joe Biden has stated that ending violence against women has been a priority for him throughout his career. During the 1990s, Biden pushed for legislation such as the Violence Against Women Act to empower and protect women who had become the victims of violence. Since then, he has worked to continue strengthening and renewing that act. In The Biden Agenda for Women policy, Biden has pledged he will continue to build upon VAWA and provide better support for survivors.

Analysis

With the pandemic causing people to stay home, the issue of violence against women is growing. In a report from the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice, results showed an 8 percent uptick in reports of domestic violence. Beginning with the VAMA, Biden plans to reauthorize the act. Additionally, he will work to keep firearms out of the hands of abusers by closing the “boyfriend loophole” and the “stalker loophole.” These loopholes refer to the gap in American federal and state gun laws that allow known stalkers and dating abusers access to guns.This past March, the House voted to do exactly that. The legislation will next be voted upon in the Senate.

There are other ways Biden is hoping to update and expand the act. One is by including more culturally-specific services for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and dating violence. These services will help survivors from racial and ethnic minority communities get the help they need. Additionally, Biden has highlighted the importance of increasing accountability of offenders, especially when their actions impact the most vulnerable. Other groups that Biden wants to expand protections for in VAMA are women of color, Alaska Native and American Indian women, young children, LGBTQ+ individuals, transgender women, older women, women with disabilities and women in the military.

Biden’s plan also includes expanding rights and protections for survivors of domestic violence. This includes expanding the safety-net for survivors by making it easier for them to get housing, cash assistance or whatever else they need. Additionally, Biden wants to empower and protect young women who could be in vulnerable situations. By increasing education and restoring Title IX guidance, Biden hopes to lower rates of violence against women among the younger population.

In his plan, Biden also points out that there is a lot we can do for immigrant women. According to Biden, one of the first steps we can take is to repeal state laws that impact immigrant women who are victims domestic violence of sexual assault. This includes ensuring asylum laws for those who are fleeing persecution and increasing visas for domestic violence survivors.

Biden states that there is even more we can do to help protect women. He outlines the importance of confronting online harassment, ending the rape kit backlog and changing the culture that supports violence against women.

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