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AFRICAN-AMERICANS FOR THE REFORM OF THE
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT
P.O. Box 8701
South Charleston, WV 25303
Telephone: (304) 342-7752
October 7, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Elizabeth Crawford
Telephone: (304) 342-7752
Partner Abuse Laws Roll-Back Civil Rights Protections, African-Americans Say
CHARLESTON, West Virginia – October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and a national civil rights organization is charging our domestic violence system undermines due process and respect for Constitutional protections, reversing decades of civil rights progress for Black and other minority communities.
These charges are made by African Americans for Reform of the Violence Against Women Act, a national non-partisan group. These concerns are affirmed by constitutional law experts such as University of Vermont professor Cheryl Hanna who once wrote, “Evidentiary standards for proving abuse have been so relaxed that any man who stands accused is considered guilty.”
According to African Americans for Reform of the Violence Against Women Act, many civil rights violations can be traced to the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). VAWA, the federal response to domestic violence, was first passed into law in 1994.
Under VAWA, the definition of domestic violence is so broad that almost any partner dispute or argument can be construed as abuse. VAWA also funds states to institute so-called “mandatory arrest” laws that violate probable-cause protections. Despite a lack of evidence, the accused is arrested and the presumption of innocence removed.
“The VAWA law is destroying the African-American family and poses the biggest challenge to civil rights since the Jim Crow era,” laments AAVR member Charles Pope. “VAWA was supposed to stop domestic violence, but what it’s really done is create victims of VAWA.”
False allegations of domestic violence are often made to gain tactical advantage in custody and/or divorce proceedings, according to family lawyers. These accusations are contributing to family break-down and the epidemic of single-parent households.
AAVR recognizes that domestic violence is a significant problem and is urging the reform of the Violence Against Women Act. AAVR calls for the repeal of mandatory arrest laws that violate Fourth Amendment probable-cause guarantees. Instead of mandatory arrest, the alleged victim and alleged offender should undergo a domestic violence assessment and treatment program.
AAVR is a national, non-partisan coalition of women and men who are concerned about the impact of domestic violence laws on African American communities.