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White House Announces Plan to Combat Gender Based Violence

June 8, 2023

On May 25, 2023 the Biden Administration released the U.S. National Plan to End Gender-Based Violence. This publication comes after President Biden established the White House Gender Policy Council via Executive Order on March 8, 2021 to address the systemic challenges to “gender based violence.” Gender-Based Violence encompasses sexual violence, intimate partner violence, stalking and other forms of gender-based violence (“GBV”). 

Under the Plan, the Biden Administration identified “seven strategic pillars” to understand and prevent gender-based violence: 

1.   Prevention: Using a comprehensive, public health approach, the Plan will utilize the CDC to compile data on the origins of gender-based violence. The Plan also calls on health organizations to develop and disseminate materials to the public on warning signs, local resources, and how to prevent gender-based violence. 

2.  Support, Healing, Safety and Well-Being: The Plan recognizes the need to develop trauma-informed practices to support survivors and enhance access to health/social service resources. The Plan also seeks to expand the availability of trauma-informed training for those supporting survivors of gender-based violence. 

3.  Economic Security and Housing Stability: The Plan acknowledges that economic and housing stability can play a role in gender-based violence, specifically intimate partner violence. According to the Plan, 500,000 women miss work on an annual basis due to intimate partner violence. Additionally, GBV has been identified as the leading cause of homelessness for families with children. To address economic insecurity, the Plan outlines measures to strengthen workplace protections for employees who experience sexual violence. 

4.  Online Safety: The Plan notes that when VAWA was originally implemented, the internet was “in its infancy,” but now online harassment can exacerbate the devastating impacts of gender-based violence. Through this Plan and the 2022 White House Task Force to Address Online Harassment and Abuse, the administration aims to “improve coordination among federal agencies” to address the origins and impact of “technology facilitated” gender-based violence.  This section also addresses providing safe internet access for all Americans and increasing access to online resources for survivors. 

5.  Legal and Justice Systems: In this section, the Plan discusses the small percentage of perpetrators who are held accountable and the legal barriers survivors encounter to report and heal from gender-based violence.  The Plan identifies 2020 Department of Justice data that approximately 23% of rape victims actually reported their assaults to law enforcement. That report also revealed that only a third of rapes result in the perpetrator being arrested. To remedy this, the Plan directs agencies to develop “coordinated community responses (CCRs)” – partnerships between “government agencies, victim service providers, law enforcement agencies, prosecutors’ offices, courts, child welfare agencies,” and other community partners. Under the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the federal government will also perform research on ways to reduce gun violence and ensure perpetrators of gender-based violence cannot purchase a firearm. 

6.  Emergency Preparedness and Crisis Response: In compiling this Plan, the administration noted that survivors displaced from their homes during an emergency event (natural or man-made) are more at risk for gender-based violence. One strategy to combat this involves the development of “disaster-specific GBV prevention strategies” that are implemented into emergency planning materials and disaster protocols.

7.  Research and Data: The final pillar of the Plan’s approach is a renewed commitment to researching gender-based violence, including its impact on “marginalized and underserved communities.” The Plan highlights the importance of research efforts that include people’s “lived experience” with gender-based violence and that such data collected should be disseminated both within and outside of federal agencies. 

To read the Plan in its entirety, click here. A list of existing federal resources under the seven pillars along with descriptions and hyperlinks can be found on page 74 of the Plan. 

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