Violence against women is an all too common problem in the United States. The 1994 Violence Against Women Act was a positive step in helping to give law enforcement the tools they need to prosecute abusers and providing support for victims. But more than two decades later, domestic abuse, sexual assault, and human trafficking remain serious problems – and we need to do more to combat them. In Congress, my legislative priorities to combat violence against women will include:
• Keep Abusers from Obtaining Guns – Domestic violence affects 1 in 4 women in the United States, and abusers often use guns to threaten or even kill victims. Domestic violence incidents involving a firearm are 12 times more likely to result in death. Keeping convicted abusers and stalkers from obtaining guns is a long-overdue common-sense measure that will save lives. I support the Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act, which would make these prohibitions federal law.
• Enforce Title IX Sexual Assault Protections – Sexual assault on college campuses is a significant threat to the safety of female students. One in five undergraduate women experiences sexual assault on campus. In response to this epidemic, the Obama administration released new guidelines for how colleges should protect students from sexual assault, which they are legally required to do under Title IX. Unfortunately, Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos have rolled back these guidelines. Congress should act to write the Obama administration’s provisions into law so that we can continue making progress on protecting women on campus.
• Allow Trafficking Victims to Expunge Convictions – Women who have been victims of forced prostitution and human trafficking often find themselves further victimized by our criminal justice system by laws criminalizing prostitution. These women (including many right here in our district) often find it even harder to get out of prostitution after a criminal conviction, because it’s more difficult for them to find legal employment with a criminal record. To help survivors who have been further victimized by these misguided laws, I support the Trafficking Survivors Relief Act, which would allow women who have been victims of trafficking to have their criminal convictions vacated and their arrests expunged.