API Call on Congress to Pass VAWA

Published: Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum Statement on the Violence Against Women Act


For immediate release:
Jan. 10, 2013

Washington, D.C.–The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) is dismayed that the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was not reauthorized in the 112thCongress. The Senate’s 2012 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act would have extended protections for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking to 30 million LGBT individuals, undocumented immigrants, and Native American women.

It is imperative that the expanded bipartisan Senate version of the bill is passed. This version includes increased protections for immigrant, tribal, and LGBT survivors of violence. Among these protections are housing, campus and sexual assault provisions, and enhanced services and explicit programs for communities of color.

API women are disproportionately impacted by domestic and sexual violence and have multi-layered needs. API immigrant women experience intimate partner violence at high rates; studies have found that 60% of immigrant Korean women, and 53% of Vietnamese refugee women have experienced domestic violence by their partner.1 Studies have also found an increased risk in intimate partner violence in couples who have immigrated to the United States. However, in many API communities, silence around this issue leaves it unaddressed. For API women, the Senate VAWA bill provides important services, including culturally competent resources, language translation services, and increased protections for immigrant victims regardless of status.

In particular, the Senate bill includes provisions that protect victims regardless of their immigration status and raises the cap on U-Visa opportunities for immigrant victims. API women make up a large portion of immigrants; nearly 40% of all immigrants to the U.S. come from Asia and 1.2 million of them are undocumented. As a result, U-Visas are particularly important to API women. U-Visas grant victims of violence and their close relatives temporary legal status and work eligibility. They permit immigrant survivors, often intimidated or threatened into silence, to testify against their attackers without fear that they will be deported for speaking out.

Unfortunately, House leadership opposed raising the U-Visa cap as well as other basic protections to certain vulnerable populations by permitting VAWA to expire. VAWA was first passed in 1994 and has been reauthorized continuously until now. It is unconscionable that Congress did not reauthorize VAWA, and the time to remedy that is now.

1Irene J. Kim, Anna S. Lau, and Doris F. Chang, Family Violence Among Asian Americans. Handbook of Asian American Psychology (Mar. 30, 2006).

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