Letter to the Editor: Protect Immigrants Who Survive Domestic Violence

The #MeToo movement is creating a platform for women to step forward to tell our stories. But as we harness this moment, we must ensure that the voices of all women, including women of color and immigrant women, are included. Nobody should be left behind. That is why here in Illinois, we enthusiastically support the VOICES Act, Senate Bill 34.

According to the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the U.S. Department of Justice, 85 percent of domestic violence is perpetrated against women, and 90 percent of rape victims are women. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey found that one in three women have been victims of physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner within their lifetime. However, these crimes go largely unreported. Some three out of four physical assaults and four out of five rapes never get reported to police.

For immigrant women, the problem of underreporting is worse due to language barriers and other anxieties, compounded on top of an already horrifying situation.

The VOICES Act creates a standard for law enforcement so that victims will get consistent support from their local agencies while eliminating some of the barriers faced by immigrant crime survivors that exacerbate Illinois’ underreporting crisis. The VOICES Act will benefit all of our communities.

We invite our male colleagues/allies to join us in passing the VOICES Act and urging the governor to sign it into law without delay. Time’s up.

State Rep. Lisa Hernandez, D-Cicero
State Rep. Margo McDermed, R-Mokena