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"VAWA is just as important today as it was when it first became law, and I urge Congress to keep the promise we made to our daughters and our granddaughters on that day––that we would work together to keep them safe."
- Vice President Joseph Biden, urging congressional reauthorization of VAWA, September 2012

VAWA 20th Anniversary Celebration
Fulfilling the Promise of Safety and Justice

To celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act - known as VAWA - PCADV has partnered with all 8 Pennsylvania law schools to host a year of events across the Commonwealth to explore VAWA's protections for victims of interpersonal violence.

Please check back often for more details as they become available!

Law Student Writing Competition

keyboardThumbnailWeb1 Law Student Writing Competition

Information and Submission Criteria The competition is now closed and submissions are being evaluated.

For PCADV's VAWA 20th Anniversary Writing Competition, law students had an opportunity to analyze a key issue (or issues) regarding the implementation of VAWA. The goal is to prepare future attorneys to understand and apply an array of protections on behalf of victims and their children.

The top three articles will be published by PCADV in a VAWA 20th Anniversary Anthology, an online publication that will compile the scholarship created at events throughout the year-long celebration. The first place article will receive a FREE Kaplan Bar Review Course.

Closing Celebration

pa statehouse 112x70 Closing Celebration

Date: October 8-10, 2014
Location: Harrisburg, PA
Registration: Check back for more information

  • held in conjunction with PCADV Statewide Conference on October 9-10
  • pre-conference institute on the Fundamentals of Domestic Violence on October 8.
  • 2-day Civil Custody Institute led by the ABA Commission on Domestic & Sexual Violence offering an in-depth practicum on holistic representation of survivors.
  • CLE credits available
  • keynote speaker to be confirmed
  • law student writing competition winners announced
  • PCADV unveils on-line compendium of the scholarship developed throughout the yearlong celebration

Pennsylvania Law School Event Calendar

Dean’s Diversity Forum: "Violences in America that Wound Women of Color"

Date: October 14, 2014
Location: Widener University School of Law, Harrisburg
Registration: Check back for more information

  • hosted by Linda Ammons, Dean of Widener University School of Law and author of articles on the intersection of race and domestic abuse and clemency for battered incarcerated women
  • program with luncheon to follow
  • organized by the Dean's Faculty Diversity Committee; the Widener Law Journal; the Widener Journal of Law, Economics and Race; and a number of student organizations, including the Women's Law Caucus and the Black Law Students' Association
  • 3 CLE credits available

Symposium: "Shining the Light On Domestic Violence at Home and Abroad"

Date: October 3, 2014
Location: Pennsylvania State Dickinson School of Law, State College
Registration: Check back for more information

  • day-long symposium explores the role of domestic and international law in protecting victims of domestic violence, keynote speaker to be confirmed
  • hosted by the Penn State Journal of Law and International Affairs and the law school's clinical programs
  • panel: how other states respond to domestic violence and the applicability of international law to those practices
  • panel: historical perspective of VAWA with respect to immigrant survivors and immigration relief available under the Act
  • CLE credits available
  • post-symposium, Penn State Journal of Law and International Affairs will publish a full issue dedicated to the symposium's scholarship

"Intimate Partner Violence in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Relationships"

Date: October, 2014
Location: Temple University, Beasley School of Law, Philadelphia
Registration: Check back for more information

WALK-A-MILE In Her Shoes

Date: Saturday, April 26, 2014 noon - 4 pm
Widener Law
Event Flyer
Register yourself or as a team
Men and women - help raise awareness and support for victims of domestic violence by walking the red carpet in high-heeled shoes along Front Street in Harrisburg. Supports the Harrisburg YWCA.

"Pittsburgh Legal Service Providers and Social Justice Work"

Date: Ongoing
Location: University of Pittsburgh School of Law, Pittsburgh

  • this “event” is an ongoing commitment to the development of partnerships between practicing attorneys and law school students to mentor students and increase pro bono activities
  • school is sponsoring an award for students who donate the most volunteer hours during the academic year

Film Screening of the HBO documentary, "Sex Crimes Unit"

Date: Friday, March 28, 3:00 pm
Location: Widener Law School, Harrisburg, PA

In honor of the 20th anniversary of the Violence against Women Act, and the start of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, this documentary screening seeks to raise awareness about sexual assault violence and help educate communities on how to effectively bring these cases to trial. The documentary follows the first Sex Crimes Prosecution Unit in NYC, the first created in the US, providing an in-depth view of the day-to-day challenges faced in prosecuting sexual assault crimes. "Sex Crimes Unit" also tells the story of Natasha Alexenko, whose case was one of the first to be taken on by the Sex Crimes Unit’s cold case division.

Following the screening, Ms. Natasha Alexenko, sexual assault survivor and founder of Natasha’s Justice Project leads a discussion on her personal story along with:

  • issues surrounding the rape kit backlog today
  • how eliminating it will not just bring justice to survivors, but also put criminals behind bars

Program: "Violence Against Women as a Human Rights Issue"

Date: March 24-29, 2014
Location: Duquesne University School of Law, Pittsburgh

Keynote Event: March 29 CLE Symposium with a moderated panel of experts and a keynote address by Professor Cheryl Hanna, of Vermont University School of Law. Hanna addresses how the international courts have framed domestic violence as a human rights issue, and compares it to the approach that courts take in the United States.

  • Panel with Violence Against Women and Criminal Law professionals
  • Silent Witness Exhibition in the Law School lobby
  • Information Booth in the Law School lobby staffed by Women's Law Association and Criminal Law Association students to provide materials on resources in Allegheny County for victims of domestic violence and their families

Drexel's VAWA Events

March 6 - 11, 2014
Location: Drexel University, Earle Mack School of Law, Philadelphia

  • Women in the Law - Prominent female panelists will discuss women in the workplace, particularly in the fields of employment and immigration law. (Sponsored by Labor and Employment Society)
  • Viewing of “After Tiller” (Sponsored by American Constitution Society)
  • Rape Law Panel will focus on the law regarding rape, exposing and correcting common myths. (Sponsored by Drexel National Lawyers Guild; LSRJ, Women’s Law, Family Law, Criminal Law Society)

Conference: "Protection of Native American Women in the 2013 Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act"

Date: February 17-21, 2014, 4:30 - 6:30 pm
Location: University of Pennsylvania Law School, Philadelphia

One of the most controversial aspects of the expanded 2013 Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act was the increased protection for Native American Women. Native American victims of domestic violence often cannot seek justice because their courts are not permitted to prosecute non-Native offenders—even for crimes committed on tribal land. VAWA 2013 includes a solution that would give tribal courts the authority they need to hold offenders in their communities accountable. We will host a panel of speakers to discuss the legal issues surrounding tribal governments’ criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians who commit crimes on reservations.

  • Keynote Speaker: Diane Millich Ms. Millich is a member of the Southern Ute Tribe, a survivor of domestic violence, and the Executive Director of Our Sister’s Keeper, an organization that advocates for the protection of Native American women.
  • Panel moderated by Gregory Ablavsky (Sharswood Fellow in Law and History), the panel will discuss the constitutionality of the extension of tribal criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians under the Supreme Court’s implicit divestiture doctrine as well as the opportunities for Native institution- and nation-building VAWA presents.

"Abolishing Commercial Sexual Exploitation in Pennsylvania: A Plan for Action"

Date: Kickoff October 18, 2013
Location: Villanova University School of Law, Villanova, PA

  • Matthew J. Ryan Law and Public Policy Forum brings together advocates, public defenders, prosecutors, law enforcement officers, academics, policy-makers and other key stakeholders to assess Pennsylvania’s current approach to commercial sexual exploitation and to consider strategies that have proven effective in other states.
  • event highlights best practices from throughout the United States, with speakers from Chicago, New York, Minneapolis and Washington, DC, joining a discussion to develop strategies for the prevention, reduction and elimination of commercial sexual exploitation in Pennsylvania.
  • PCADV’s statewide kick-off will be incorporated into Villanova’s event and PCADV’s legal director, Ellen Kramer, will provide an overview of the goals of our yearlong celebration and the unique collaboration that connects Villanova’s event, PCADV and the seven other Pennsylvania law schools.
  • program is approved for 4.5 hours of Continuing Legal Education (CLE): 3 substantive and 1.5 ethics.
  • Villanova also sponsors a year of events to support the growing movement in Pennsylvania opposing commercial sexual exploitation
  • events are led by Villanova Law’s new student group CARD (Coalition Advocating for Rights and Dignity), dedicated to working on anti-trafficking issues.

Update for Feminist Law Professors, The Twentieth Annual CLE Conference

Date: Friday, December 14, 2012
Location: Temple University Law School

  • How the Myth of the Ideal Parent Limits Women’s Autonomy - Jennifer H. Sperling, Villanova
  • Systemic Transfer of Devaluation of Black Mothers to Black Children -Tracey McCants Lewis, Duquesne
  • Empirical Study Design, Methodology, and Results: How Jurors Respond to the Timing of Disclosure of Negative Information - Dr. Deirdre Bowen, Seattle, & Kathy Stanchi, Temple
  • Panel: Intimate Partner Abuse: The Myth of Battered Woman Syndrome. Keynote Speaker, Prof. Elizabeth Schneider, Brooklyn; Commentators, Kit Kinports, Penn State/Dickinson, Marina Angel, Temple
  • Jessica Lenahan (Gonzales) v. USA: Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Finds U.S. Violation in Abuse Killings - Jill C. Engle, Penn State/Dickinson -
  • Domestic Terrorism: Anti-Choice Harassment - David Cohen & Krysten Connon, Drexel
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