Yesterday, U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco and Deputy Attorney General Vanita Gupta hosted a virtual listening session with members of the National Task Force to End Sexual Violence and to discuss the unmet needs of survivors and how to improve and strengthen the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) to help meet these needs. The Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General were joined by the leadership of the Ministry of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW).
At the start of the meeting, Attorney General Garland reaffirmed that addressing gender-based violence has long been and remains a priority for the Department of Justice. The attorney general discussed the ministry’s budget request for fiscal year 2022, which includes a historic investment of $ 1 billion to support the work of the OVW. He said he held the post of Senior Assistant Deputy Attorney General in 1995, when the Justice Department first established an office dedicated to addressing domestic violence and sexual assault.
The Deputy Attorney General also shared her own experience of working to end gender-based violence, including as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee in the early 1990s, when the Violence Against Women Act was introduced. was adopted for the first time. Among the responsibilities of the Deputy Attorney General was collecting personal stories from individual survivors to illustrate the urgent need for stronger legal protections.
Members of the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence spoke about the importance of VAWA and the work of the OVW over the past quarter century, including funding several of the first comprehensive aid centers. to rape victims in our country; recognize tribal jurisdiction over non-Indian perpetrators of domestic violence; dedicate resources to improve culturally appropriate services and reach underserved communities, and reduce homicides through federal gun bans. Advocates have stressed the critical need to re-authorize VAWA.
Attorney General Garland and Deputy Attorney General of Monaco commended national advocacy organizations for their efforts on behalf of survivors of sexual and domestic violence and thanked them for sharing their expertise and knowledge on the ground to respond to these crimes. And the Deputy Attorney General closed the meeting by underscoring the department’s commitment to work tirelessly for the speedy reauthorization of VAWA this year, which she will testify on Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.