Everyone loves the party game/icebreaker “two truths and a lie.” 

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), or H.R. 1620, was just introduced in the House and is expected to be brought to the floor for a vote in the coming days. 

Can you identify which of the following is NOT true about the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)?

A. VAWA was first enacted with bipartisan support in 1994 to prevent violent crime, particularly violence against women.
B. Since VAWA’s enactment, there have been numerous reports of waste, fraud, and abuse.
C. VAWA recognizes women are overwhelmingly the majority of victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Let’s take these statements one at a time:

A. TRUTH! VAWA was passed and signed into federal law in 1994 with bipartisan support to help victims of violence, including domestic and sexual violence, and to prevent future abuse. Since then, VAWA has been reauthorized by Congress three times (2000, 2005 and 2013).

B. TRUTH! Reports from the Department of Justice Inspector General have shown the misuse and abuse of funds within VAWA.

For example, a Department of Justice audit reviewed 22 randomly selected VAWA grants from 1998 to 2010. Of the 22 grantees, 21 were found to have violated the terms of their grants.

In 2017, the Department of Justice also found several instances of fraud and embezzlement.

Ultimately, this means that VAWA’s funds are not always spent on assisting victims of violence, leaving some without access to the services they need.

C. LIE! Sadly, while both men and women experience domestic and sexual abuse, women are far more likely to be victims of these horrific crimes. Unfortunately, H.R. 1620 actually eliminates “women” from Title 2 and replaces them with “people.” In Title 4 of H.R. 1620, women are erased again. The legislation deletes “women” and replaces them with “adults, youth.” Is the Violence Against Women Act looking out for women?

Congress enacted VAWA 27 years ago with laudable intentions: To prevent and respond to victims of violence. VAWA isn’t a political issue; we all want to work to reduce violence against women. If policymakers are serious about helping women, they should reauthorize a better Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that delivers funding in a transparent way and assists those who need it the most.