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Daniel Manne, WAPPP Fellow
The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA) declared that all women in the U.S. had the right to be free from gender-motivated violence and provided a remedy for victims. In 2000, the Supreme Court struck down that remedy as unconstitutional. The right guaranteed in VAWA remains an unfulfilled promise to millions of American women who will be victims of domestic violence in their lifetimes. Despite years of effort by feminist activists, the state is still largely uncommitted to combating the problem of intimate partner abuse. This presentation will make the case that both the high rate of incidence and the severe effects of violence make intimate partner abuse a serious civil rights concern. It will further argue that incremental improvements to the criminal justice system have been, and will continue to be, insufficient to effectively deal with the problem because the system is entirely reactive. The solution lies in a new proactive and flexible system that anticipates the cycles and psychology of abuse, focuses on helping victims rather than punishing offenders, recognizes that some batterers can be reformed and others cannot, and is fundamentally committed to eliminating domestic violence homicide.