- Reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act
- Pass common sense gun legislation
- Ensure justice for survivors
- Restore protections for students on campus
- Address sexual assault in the military
- Protect Vulnerable Communities
- Combat sex trafficking
- Hold tech companies accountable for online abuse
Reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act
Mike will protect victims of intimate partner violence by reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA.) VAWA addresses survivors’ most immediate needs by funding organizations that provide physical safety, housing, counseling services, and help with children. Nevertheless, Republicans have prevented the bill’s re-authorization. As president, Mike will advocate for VAWA reauthorization. Mike will also seek a 200% funding increase for rape prevention services and youth violence prevention education, and include stronger housing protections for survivors, who are four times more likely to face housing instability.
As president, Mike will also restrengthen the Department of Justice’s Office of Violence Against Women (OVW), which is responsible for distributing VAWA funding, after years of budget cuts and neglect by the Trump administration.
Mike will also address economic abuse, in which abusers use financial means to cause harm and create dependency, like accumulating debt in their partner’s name or preventing their partner from going to work. Mike will ensure economic abuse is recognized by the federal government as an official type of domestic violence. He will also extend paid family leave to cover domestic abuse survivors and enact a suite of programs designed to help economic abuse survivors and advocacy groups.
Pass common sense gun legislation
Mike will close loopholes that allow domestic abusers to buy guns. He will pass legislation to allow for fed-flag screening before guns are purchased. Mike will also require the DOJ to report all failed background checks to local and state authorities so it becomes evident if a prohibited domestic abuser is looking to buy a gun and so that they can be stopped before they are armed. (Read more about Mike’s Plan for Gun Safety here.)
Ensure justice for survivors
Mike will eliminate the federal statute of limitations on criminal sex offenses and change the federal rules of evidence to allow for broader evidence of previous bad acts to be considered in domestic violence cases. He will also eliminate the national rape kit backlog and increase funding for investigative and prosecutorial resources.
Restore protections for students on campus
Donald Trump and Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have put the safety of college students at risk by rolling back Title IX requirements for college administrations to thoroughly adjudicate student claims of sexual assault. The scope of the abuse is vast. According to the Association of American Universities, more than a fourth of female undergraduate respondents to a 2019 survey reported “nonconsensual sexual contact” while in school.
Mike will reverse the protections undermined by Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos and put into place new rules that keep students safe. He will require colleges to report on student sexual assaults annually, even those that are not reported to police. As president, Mike will sign the Campus Accountability and Safety Act, which sets a standardized process for disciplinary proceedings. He will require colleges to have campus coordinators who will connect assault survivors with services and help with reporting to authorities, and toughen penalties for schools that do not report incidents to the government.
Combat sexual assault in the military
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), about one in four women report experiencing military sexual trauma (MST) during their service. Mike’s plan will take numerous steps to end gender-based violence against women in the military. Mike will require the Department of Defense (DOD) to provide a progress report to Congress on eliminating sexual sexual assault in the military, including at military academies. He will ensure DOD and VA staff are properly trained to respond to and investigate complaints of sexual assault. He will also ensure the VA provides appropriate medical care for victims and does not require victims to relive their traumas through requiring the retelling of assaults when first entering the VA system.
Mike will ensure victims of MST are given the option of using an independent military prosecutor. He will also mandate independent reviews of command prosecution decisions.
Protect vulnerable communities
Mike will increase protections for vulnerable women, including in indigenous populations and the disabled, undocumented, and LGBTQ+ communities. Mike will work with congress to expand tribal jurisdiction over crimes committed on reservations and will broaden the DOJ’s efforts to investigate crimes against indigenous women. He will also champion passage of Savanna’s Act. To aid undocumented people, Mike will affirm protections for asylum seekers, making it easier for victims of violence to contact the authorities when abuse occurs. (Read more about Mike’s Plan for Immigration Reform here.) Mike will also end the gay and trans panic defense, and improve data collection and awareness about the epidemic of murders perpetrated against LGBTQ+ individuals. (Read more about Mike’s Plan for LGBTQ+ Equality here.)
Mike will hold tech companies accountable when their platforms are used to harass women and enact a national privacy law that ensures everyone’s data is protected. He will also encourage states to protect women from “revenge porn,” the sharing of sexually explicit images without a person’s consent.
Mike will also divert survivors away from the criminal justice system – where they too often end up – and into supportive services. He will encourage states to adopt rules that allow judges to consider domestic violence and sexual abuse in sentencing recommendations. Mike will also require states to screen women at intake for sexual exploitation and divert victims away from the justice system.
Combat sex trafficking
Cases of sex trafficking are on the rise – anti-trafficking non-profit Polaris identified nearly 11,000 human trafficking cases in 2018 – a 25% jump since the previous year. However, the DOJ investigates and prosecutes only a small fraction of these cases, and that number has declined under the Trump administration. Mike will increase the number of investigations and prosecutions by the Department of Justice, including increased funding and efficacy of existing joint federal-local task forces.
Mike will encourage states to adopt the federal standard that considers all children working in prostitution under the age of 18 to be de-facto victims of trafficking – known as “safe harbor laws” – and connect them with diversion programs instead of prison.
As mayor of New York City, Mike led a 41% reduction in domestic violence homicides. In addition to his work spreading public awareness and education about domestic violence against women, Mike launched the first ever housing program designed specifically for victims of domestic violence. He created Family Justice Centers, which offer comprehensive services for victims of domestic violence, that will be turned into a national model during his presidency.
Mike was also a national leader on combating human trafficking. He convened the Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force and led multiple public awareness campaigns about domestic and international human trafficking.