What is the Difference between Gender-Motivated Violence and Sexual Violence?

victim of gender-motivated violence

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The Victims of Gender-Motivated Violence Protection Law in New York will help victims of gender-based violence (abbreviated GBV) get justice. The law extends the statute of limitations for such crimes and provides a one-year lookback window for victims to sue their assailant or involved parties.

The language used in the VGMVPL can be a little confusing, so we’re here to help clarify how victims can leverage this new law to get justice – including victims of sexual assault.

Defining Gender-Motivated Violence

The VGMVPL applies to victims of gender-motivated violence, but this term may be a little ambiguous to the general public. Many victims in fact don’t even realize that they are victims of gender-motivated violence.

The law provides definitions for some of the phraseology used within:

Crime of violence. The term “crime of violence” means an act or series of acts that would constitute a misdemeanor or felony against the person as defined in state or federal law or that would constitute a misdemeanor or felony against property as defined in state or federal law if the conduct presents a serious risk of physical injury to another, whether or not those acts have actually resulted in criminal charges, prosecution, or conviction.

Crime of violence motivated by gender. The term “crime of violence motivated by gender” means a crime of violence committed because of gender or on the basis of gender, and due, at least in part, to an animus based on the victim’s gender.” 

This is a broad definition. And it’s one that lends itself to interpretation by a judge or jury. 

Because this definition is so broad, it is crucial that you retain the services of an experienced person injury or sexual assault lawyer when pursuing a case under the Victims of Gender-Motivated Violence Protection Law.
In many cases, sexual assault would constitute a crime of violence motivated by gender. 

As defined by The Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence (ENDGBV), “Gender-based violence can impact anyone, and can include intimate partner and family violence, elder abuse, sexual violence, stalking and human trafficking.”

All of these crimes, at least in some part, stem from “an animus based on the victim’s gender.”

Crimes like human trafficking and sexual violence are inherently tied to gender, and thus would be crimes that are unambiguously covered by the VGMPL.

And though sexual assault can be a form of gender-motivated violence, not all gender motivated violence is sexual in nature.

This is the key difference between gender-motivated violence and sexual violence.

Sexual violence can be seen as a subset or type of gender-motivated violence. 

Women are Not the Only Victims

It is important to note that ENDGBV explicitly states that gender-based or gender-motivated violence can impact anyone. 

The term “gender-motivated violence” is often conflated with “violence against women.”

While violence against women is a form of gender-motivated violence, it is not the only kind – men can be the victims of gender-motivated violence, as well as transgender or non-binary individuals.

The VGMVPL explicitly uses the term “gender” rather than “sex,” which empowers individuals of any and all gender identities.

What “Gender-Motivated Violence” Means Outside New York

New York is not the first place where gender-motivated violence has been addressed by a governing body.

Other countries have similar definitions and understandings of gender-motivated violence.

Though the precedent of other nations has no bearing on US courts, it can provide a framework for the potential application of the VGMVPL.

The European Commission lists “sexual harm” as one of the various forms of gender-based violence.

“[Sexual gender-based violence] includes sexual acts, attempts to obtain a sexual act, acts to traffic, or acts otherwise directed against a person’s sexuality without the person’s consent.”

This definition encompasses nearly all forms of sexual assault. While it differs from the definition provided by the VGMVPL, it can influence our own understanding of gender-motivated violence here in New York.

How You Can Get Justice

Currently, there is not a wide-spread understanding of gender-motivated violence in New York. This is due in part to the fact that the VGMVPL lookback window does not start until March 1, 2023. 

During this lookback window, victims will make their cases and help form our legal interpretation of gender-motivated violence. 

You can be a part of this historic journey too. We urge any and all victims to come forward. Tell your story, be heard, and get justice for the violence you have faced.

Our team of sexual assault and personal injury attorneys can help you build your case. 

Call our office today or fill out our contact form to get started.

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