Statement from the National Domestic Workers Alliance on the Violence Against Women Act and Trafficking Victims Protection Act
We are a national network of 39 local, membership-based affiliate organizations of over 12,000 nannies, housekeepers and caregivers for the elderly located in 14 states. We are the nation’s leading voice for the millions of domestic workers in the U.S., most of whom are women.
Intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking are profound problems faced by the women and families in our communities, and every organization in our network has a member who has been affected by violence against women. Nearly all have a member who has personally experienced it. Our members have told us stories about being brought to the US to work for Diplomats and employees of the World Bank and having their passports and freedom stripped away upon arrival. They have told us stories about their US citizen spouses holding their immigration status hostage and using it as a means of control in abusive relationships. These are not just statistics, budget reports, and line items, they represent the human, basic needs of women who spend every ounce of energy working for and dreaming of a better life for themselves and their families.
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) have a significant positive impact on our ability to connect the survivors we meet to social services, legal assistance, and long-term protections like immigration relief. While we work to organize domestic workers for rights, primary needs like shelter, food, and safety must be met first. Our members were shocked and disappointed when Congress allowed both TVPA and VAWA to expire, especially given their history of strong, bi-partisan support that lifted up our nation’s common humanity and commitment to human rights.
We applaud the Senate on its passage of both VAWA and the TVPA in the form of Amendment 21, and particularly praise Senator Patrick Leahy for his leadership. While several Republican, male Senators voted against these critical protections, we were buoyed by the yes votes from every woman in the Senate, both Democratic and Republican, who stood in favor of the final bill.
Now, as a country comprised of 50.8% women, we have turned our eyes to the House of Representatives to complete this task. We urge the Representatives in Congress to pass an equally strong VAWA and TVPA and move quickly to get the bill to President Obama so that women like our members, and their sisters, mothers, and daughters, will be fully recognized and able to access the protection and justice that they deserve.