In a strong commitment to justice and equality, the Justice Department has recently highlighted a series of initiatives aimed at preventing and addressing gender-based violence (GBV). The department, along with its federal government partners and communities nationwide, prioritizes the safety of all survivors of sexual violence, intimate partner violence, stalking, and other forms of GBV. This comes in the wake of the White House's release of the National Plan to End Gender-Based Violence: Strategies for Action.
Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta emphasizes that gender-based violence violates fundamental human rights, destroys communities, and perpetuates social inequities. The department's top priority is to identify and prevent these crimes, as evidenced by the national plan and the collective commitment of the government. The Justice Department, along with its federal partners, continues to shed light on the consequences of GBV on society and applauds those who support survivors in regaining their sense of safety and well-being.
GBV affects individuals from all walks of life and spans across all age groups, presenting a significant public safety crisis. It permeates every sphere of human interaction, be it public or private, and its impact extends nationwide, often escalating during times of disaster, conflict, or crisis, including global health emergencies like pandemics.
During the Launch of the National Plan to End Gender-Based Violence, Acting Director Allison Randall of the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) highlighted the seriousness of sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, and human trafficking as violent crimes that undermine equality and justice. She emphasizes that only a comprehensive response, deeply informed by survivors and historically marginalized communities, can put an end to gender-based violence. The Justice Department stands with colleagues across the federal government and communities throughout the United States in this effort.
The Justice Department's work to respond to GBV involves a comprehensive agency-wide effort to provide support for survivors and hold offenders accountable by enforcing the nation's laws against these crimes. The department's commitment to addressing GBV encompasses various aspects such as funding, research, policy, technical assistance, training, and guidance. Here are some notable initiatives:
Funding: The OVW and the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) administer grants to prevent, address, and coordinate community responses to gender-based violence across the nation. Funding strengthens the criminal justice system's response, expands victim services, supports community-based efforts, and enhances prevention.
Policies and Guidance: The department has issued revised Attorney General Guidelines for Victim and Witness Assistance, addressing the responsibilities of department employees when working with victims and witnesses of crime. Various guidance and protocols have been released, including those related to intimate partner violence medical forensic examinations, workplace responses to domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking, and improving law enforcement response to sexual assault and domestic violence by identifying and preventing gender bias.
Projects and Initiatives: The Civil Rights Division's Coordinating Committee to Combat Sexual Misconduct has showcased its achievements in combating sexual misconduct. OVC has funded programs and projects aimed at expanding services for sexual abuse survivors in youth detention, preventing Female Genital Mutilation or Cutting (FGM/C), addressing sex trafficking victimization of Black girls, and more.
Addressing Crimes Against American Indian and Alaska Native Communities: The department has issued a memorandum reiterating its priority to address the disproportionately high rates of violence experienced by American Indians and Alaska Natives. Tribal consultations, conferences, and programs have been conducted to address crime victimization in Indian Country and support the exercise of Special Tribal Criminal Jurisdiction (STCJ).
Research and Data: OVW and the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) conduct research and collect data to inform efforts in addressing gender-based violence. Research initiatives aim to study interventions that address domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, stalking, and various criminal justice system responses.