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VAWA Programs Must Help Male Victims

The Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex in the delivery of services funded by the Department of Justice.1

Despite this proscription, the problem of discrimination against male victims of domestic violence has been documented since 1997.2

In response to complaints of sex-based discrimination by programs funded by the Violence Against Women Act, Senator Orrin Hatch made the following statement in 2000:

Men who have suffered these types of violent attacks are eligible under current law to apply for services and benefits that are funded under the original Act-and they will remain eligible under the Violence Against Women Act of 2000.3

Senator Joseph Biden later confirmed Senator Hatch's statement: "Nothing in the act denies services, programs, funding or assistance to male victims of violence."4

Despite those reassurances, discrimination against male victims has persisted. A report from RADAR revealed that sex-based discimination continued to be endemic to the system.5

Disturbed over the continuing disregard of explicit Congressional instructions, the 2005 renewal of VAWA included this requirement:

"Nothing in this title shall be construed to prohibit male victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking from receiving benefits and services under this title."6

One hopes that the Office on Violence Against Women will take this Congressional mandate seriously and implement strategies to assure that all victims of domestic violence - male and female -- receive legally-mandated services.

 


 

References

1 Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, Section 3789d. (c)(1). The law states, "No person in any State shall on the ground of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under or denied employment in connection with any programs or activity funded in whole or in part with funds made available under this chapter." The penalties for violating these requirements are described in Section 3789d. (c)(2). http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/split/42usc3789d.htm

2 Cook P. Abused Men: The Hidden Side of Domestic Violence. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1997.

3 Congressional Record, October 11, 2000, pp. S10191-92. http://www.menshealthnetwork.org/library/VAWAdocuments2005.pdf

4 Hockessin Community News. Biden pressed to make abuse bill gender neutral, Senator: Bill already applies to both sexes, June 2, 2005, p. 8. http://www.communitypub.com/WKLYART/HCN_06.02.05.pdf, archived at http://mediaradar.org/docs/BidenOnGenderNeutralVAWA_HCN_06.02.05.pdf

5 RADAR. VAWA programs discriminate against male victims: Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting. 2007. http://www.mediaradar.org/docs/VAWA-Discriminates-Against-Males.pdf