Someone Tell Conservatives That Domestic Violence is Not a Partisan Issue
Republicans vote against reauthorization of Violence Against Women Act
As if they want to ensure that no woman ever votes Republican again, the GOP has now made domestic violence a partisan issue. Just a week after they lost the contraception fight to the Obama administration’s clever maneuvering, the GOP is now set to take sides on the issue of violence against women.
When now-Vice President Joe Biden introduced the Violence Against Women Act in 1994, the bill was aimed at the epidemic levels of intimate partner violence, sexual assault and stalking. The VAWA not only includes grants and training programs for prosecutors to ensure that abusers are put behind bars, but it also trains police officers to adequately deal with these types of crimes. Shelters for victims of abuse also rely on service grants authorized by the VAWA.
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Nearly 1 in 5 women will be the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. Three women a day (on average) die at the hands of their boyfriends or husbands. Stats like this are alarming enough to ensure a swift reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, just like in 2000 and in 2005 right? Apparently, not.
Amanda Terkel reported at The Huffington Post that this year is the first time the reauthorization vote was split down party lines. Republican opposition is in part because of the cost, but also because of the new portions which deal with LGBT couples and undocumented immigrants who are the victims of domestic abuse. Another new provision allows for Native American tribes to prosecute offenders.
Native Americans have some of the highest levels of domestic violence of any group. It’s disturbing that anyone - no matter their party affiliation - would object to a measure to protect women and families from abuse. Also disturbing is the reasoning behind the conservative opposition to the reauthorization. In a radio interview, one such person, Janice Shaw Crouse of Concerned Women for America, explained her opposition as, in part, because of, “A general view in society that a woman is - she can say anything and a man has to bear the consequences of her accusations. She is allowed to have free law enforcement. She is allowed to have consultation with lawyers, and the person who is accused is not. So those kinds of inequities, I think, are inherent in this bill.” Crouse also went on to say the standard argument conservatives use to object to federal help for victims: 1) Blame Feminism 2) Cite Duke Lacrosse 3) But what about all the male victims?
Crouse is making the point that since reports of domestic violence have gone up since 1994 the VAWA has failed, but logically that statistic can be seen as more women reporting the crime to the police. Domestic violence is traditionally a crime where victims are alone and suffering in private and silently, afraid to report. Legislation and funding like the VAWA is meant to help those women and encourage them to report the violence and seek help. Also notable is that Crouse's opposition is backwards. The VAWA has not done enough to help victims so we should just get rid of it? How about a bigger VAWA with more funding?
Furthermore, victims, no matter their gender, should have sufficient resources and know that those resources are available to them in their communities. The VAWA allows for those resources to have proper funding and visibility so that victims no matter who they are can get help. This should not be a matter of party, it’s a matter of humanity.
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Hear Joe Biden speak on VAWA below: