As women from all over the country prepare to descend on DC this Saturday for the Women's March on Washington, the Trump administration just gave them another reason to find concern with the new Commander-in-Chief's stance on women's rights. According to The Hill, one way members of Trump's transition team aim to cut federal spending is by eliminating the 25 grant programs within the Department of Justice's Office on Violence Against Women, which are designed to help women who are victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
"Overall, the blueprint being used by Trump's team would reduce federal spending by $10.5 trillion over 10 years," The Hill reports. The current proposed plan, which would significantly cut funding from the departments of Transportation, Justice and State, calls for eliminating several programs that conservatives have labeled "corporate welfare programs" and "waste."
According to the Justice Department website, the Violence Against Women grants targeted by the Trump administration "are designed to develop the nation's capacity to reduce domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking by strengthening services to victims and holding offenders accountable." The Office of Violence Against Women was established in 1995 and has awarded more than $6 billion in grants and cooperative programs to implement the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
Ed Chung, the vice president of criminal justice reform at Center for American Progress and a former senior adviser in the Office of Justice Programs at the Justice Department, says the proposed efforts to reduce funding "are very concerning."
There are a couple of different ways the Trump administration could reduce government spending overall, he tells Broadly. As the proposed budget also suggests the Justice Department eliminate the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services and the Legal Services Corporation, and reduce funding for its Civil Rights and its Environment and Natural Resources divisions, lawmakers could decide to consolidate all of those offices under one grant-making entity. "That would send an incredibly negative signal to the field that issues such as community-oriented policing and violence against women issues are being demoted in their importance," Chung says.
These types of federal support are crucial
If funding for VAWA grants are reduced, Chung explains, it would affect a lot of places across the country that provide crucial services to victims of domestic and sexual assault. "This includes, for example, services for rural victims, civil legal assistance for victims, sexual assault service programs, housing—everything that is needed in order for women who have experienced sexual and domestic assault to get back on their feet."
Additionally, Chung says, law enforcement efforts would be impacted by the loss of these resources, as VAWA grants help police respond to domestic violence and sexual assault victims and facilitate bringing their perpetrators to justice.
In the most recent reauthorization of VAWA in 2013, Chung adds, protections were added for the LGBT community, Native Americans, and immigrants, in addition to imposing new reporting requirements for campus sexual assault. "Those are all issues that will be affected either if funding is reduced or if the Office of Violence Against Women is eliminated or consolidated in some way and thus lessened in importance," Chung says.
Since VAWA was signed into law in 1994 by President Clinton, the impact has been indisputable. For example, according to the White House, between 1993 and 2010, intimate partner violence has declined by 67 percent and intimate partner homicides of females has decreased 35 percent. Additionally, states have passed harsher laws against sexual violence, and stalking, which has led to more reports of crime and thus more arrests.
"These types of federal support are crucial," Chung says.