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An effort to curb Pennsylvania domestic violence using VAWA

According to reports, domestic violence against women is increasing in Pennsylvania and throughout the United States. In order to curb domestic violence, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was passed in 1994. Subsequently, changes were made to the act in 1996. VAWA then established grants to prevent domestic violence, and a domestic violence hotline was set up. VAWA has now been passed by 47 states, including Pennsylvania.

What are the main provisions of VAWA? According to VAWA, rape kits are funded and court/legal fees for protection orders are paid. Domestic protection orders are enforced in states and territorial jurisdictions in the United States, including in Pennsylvania. VAWA is also responsible for setting up prevention of domestic violence units in various communities, and the units are funded by the particular state.

Law enforcement agencies and officers will be provided with training in domestic violence. Moreover, to address domestic violence issues within Indian communities, tribal courts now have the ability to try non-Indian spouses of Indian women in domestic violence cases. Immigrants who do not have the necessary documents will be allowed to apply for U.S. citizenship, provided that they help the law enforcement agencies track down their abusers.

A domestic violence misdemeanor means that the intimate partner has been convicted of a crime in which the person used physical force or stalked the partner by using a weapon. An intimate partner can be a spouse or a former spouse. The individual may even be a person with whom the woman has lived previously or with whom she lives currently. In the past, the restraining order could be enforced in the state where it was passed. However, with VAWA, it is now enforceable in all states.

Source: FindLaw.com, "Federal Domestic Violence Legislation: The Violence Against Women Act," accessed on July 28, 2015

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