According to the U.S. Department of Justice, nearly 20 percent of college women and six percent of college men will become victims of attempted or completed sexual assault.
This was made evident last week when a female UH student was attacked at a nearby gas station. She was luckily victorious in fighting off her three attackers who attempted to sexually assault her, but not many individuals are so lucky.
The Violence Against Women Act enacted in 1994, reauthorized again in 2000 and 2005, is up for reauthorization again.
The reauthorization addresses campus disciplinary proceedings and would force campuses to hold perpetrators accountable to stricter punishments according to the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women.
Even the National Network to End Domestic Violence has shown that VAWA provides federal money to their Sexual Assault Services Program and prevention programs, created a National Resource Center on Workplace Responses, and provides training to law enforcement and health professionals to improve their responses to domestic violence and sexual assault victims.
The costs associated with domestic violence and sexual assaults alone are staggering. According to the Bureau of National Affairs, domestic violence is estimated to cost US employers up to $13 billion a year.
Costs to victims of rape are estimated by the National Institute of Justice to be $127 billion a year.
Studies have shown that since its enactment, VAWA has saved lives of countless individuals and money for the United States, up to $12.6 billion in averted costs within the first six years.
VAWA is necessary because it creates safer communities, supports victims and holds offenders accountable. Support for reauthorization should not be a debate; it should be supported unanimously.
Please contact your local members of Congress to let them know you support the VAWA reauthorization to end the war on domestic violence and sexual assault.
Maria Reyna, Christina Veillon, Scarlett Badal, Amanda Deloy are first-year Master of Social Work students and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.