On September 21, 1994, two men raped Christy Brzonkala in her dormitory room at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univer- sity("VirginiaTech"). Unfortunately,this kind of event is not a rare occurrence in the United States. "According to the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics ("BJS"), women are the victims of more than 4.5 million violent crimes each year. This alarming figure includes approximately 500,000 rapes or other sexual assaults." In light of these statistics, and "after four years of hearings, Congress enacted [the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 ("VAWA" or "the Act")], a comprehensive federal statute designed to address 'the escalating problem of violent crime against women." Title III of the VAWA establishes a federal substantive right that all persons within the United States shall have the right to be free from crimes o fgender-motivated violence. To enforce this right, the Act creates a private cause of action against any person committing a gender-motivated crime and allows compensatory damages, punitive damages, injunctive, declaratory, or any other appropriate relief.
Christine M. Devey,
Commerce Clause, Enforcement Clause, or Neither? The Constitutionality of the Violence Against Women Act in Brzonkala v. Morrison,
U. Rich. L. Rev.
Available at: http://scholarship.richmond.edu/lawreview/vol34/iss2/10