PCAR promotes public policies that provide protections and services to victims of sexual violence, hold offenders accountable and enhance community safety at the state and federal levels.
PCAR staff participates in the National Task Force to End Domestic and Sexual Violence, which works specifically on the Violence Against Women Act, and works closely with the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV) to set and respond to federal policy initiatives, inform national conversations and pass along federal priorities to community rape crisis centers in Pennsylvania.
Federal legislation we're watching:
Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act
On April 4th, the House of Representatives passed H.R.1585, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019 (VAWA), with strong bipartisan support. It is time for the Senate to take action on a substantially similar bill that maintains important protections for vulnerable survivors while making critical enhancements to prevent and respond to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.
Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Harassment Act of 2017
The Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Harassment Act of 2017, sponsored by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Lindsey Graham, would ban employers from requiring employees to agree to arbitration for sexual harassment claims as a condition of their employment. Generally, arbitration agreements are signed when an employee is hired. They may not always understand what, precisely, they are agreeing to; further, these agreements are entered into before the harassing behavior has occurred. Forced arbitration directs sexual harassment (and other) employee complaints through a third party (arbiter) rather than through a lawsuit. It deprives victims of legal options—to sue their employer or participate in a lawsuit against them—and requires them to stay silent about their complaint. This results in the doors of justice being closed for victims and perpetrators continuing to receive institutional protections for their actions.
Protecting young victims from sexual abuse act, S. 534 (Feinstein—CA):
This bill would extend the mandatory reporting of child abuse on federal lands to USA Gymnastics and similar organizations, requiring them to immediately report to appropriate authorities and develop prevention and response policies and procedures. Additionally, the bill extends and strengthens the civil statute of limitations.
Affordable Care Act
PCAR supports policies that ensure survivors of sexual violence have access to high quality healthcare. Sexual violence can impact a person’s physical and mental health in the short- and long-term periods following an assault. Sexual violence should not be considered a pre-existing condition or limit a person’s ability to access and afford the best available medical care throughout their lives. Further, people who are at risk of sexually offending also need access to affordable health and mental health care as way to reduce the stresses and risk factors associated with offending behaviors.
PCAR supports full funding of the Sexual Assault Services Program and Rape Prevention and Education Program. These programs support sexual violence prevention and response efforts throughout the state and nation. We join our national partners in supporting the Congress in funding the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) cap at 2.6 billion. We also support designating VOCA funds for tribal services, but oppose other earmarks and transfers from the fund.
Please visit NAESV’s website for more information on federal legislation and policy analysis.