Friday, May 18, 2012

The Violence Against Women Act: Who Does It Actually Protect?

This past Wednesday, the House passed their version of the Violence Against Women Act on a 222 to 205 vote. Although this seems like pretty great news, I personally think the bill is much too narrow.

Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) shares her stories of being sexually assaulted as a young woman. "As a woman of color, I am particularly aggrieved that this bill ignores the special circumstances of women who are minorities. Women who are in the shadows."
Women in the lowest income category experience more than six times the rate of domestic violence as compared to women in the highest income category. African-American women face higher rates of domestic violence than white women, and Native-American women are victimized at a rate more than double that of women of other races.

President Bill Clinton signed The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) into law for the first time in 1994. The Act provided $1.6 billion toward investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women. This law greatly improved the nation's response to domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. In United States v. Morrison, SCOTUS struck down the VAWA provision allowing women the right to sue their attackers in federal court. The Court's conservatives saw this as an attack on state's rights.

Needless to say, the law has borne the brunt of conservative opposition for years now. VAWA was reauthorized in 2000 and then again in 2005. This time, in 2012, Republicans had a huge problem with the fact that Democrats wanted to extend the Act's protections to same-sex couples and allow battered illegal immigrants to obtain temporary visas.

VAWA provides invaluable services to victims of domestic violence, including community violence protection programs, protections for victims who are evicted from their homes because of domestic violence, rape crisis centers and hotlines, as well as programs for immigrant women and women with disabilities.

What Are Republicans Complaining About?

Well, the new version of the VAWA included LGBT couples. The bill also included a provision from the SAVE Native American Women Act, which allows tribes to prosecute Native American and non-Native American offenders in domestic violence cases. Republicans also did not like the provision that would have protected female illegal aliens. This provision would have provided visas for undocumented victims to encourage them to come forward when they are abused without the fear of deportation.

Not to sound like a broken record, but this is undeniably yet another event that lends credence to the fact that the GOP is waging a War on Women! For those who think that The War on Women is a silly fantasy or a made-up scam by liberal America, I ask you to take a step back and look at the actions of the GOP lately. How can one NOT come to the conclusion that there is a war on not only women, but Americans who are LGBT! Domestic violence is severely under-reported in the gay community for many different reasons, and this is all the more reason to protect them under the VAWA.

Apparently Republicans think that it is "unnecessary" to include minority groups in the VAWA. Apparently these are "divisive distractions."  I have a huge problem with this.

Once again, politics, bigotry, and racism are blocking the doorway to justice.

Alas, the House did not adopt the Senate version of the bill, which protects all women, regardless of nationality or citizenship status, and LGBT individuals. Once again, the GOP says NO to justice.

The Republican-authored bill raises requirements to prove domestic violence and assault, erases protections for undocumented women, and eliminates protection for LGBT victims of domestic violence. This is going to hurt many Americans, and in my opinion, violates Constitutional principles of equal protection.

The fact that these protections were denied in the same week that President Obama formally announced his support for marriage equality/same-sex marriage is ironic and sad.

It's one thing to deny women the health care that they deserve, but it is another thing to tell certain groups of people that they do not deserve equal protection under the law because of their sexual orientation or citizenship status.

What Is Going to Happen Now?

The bill will now go to a House/Senate Conference Committee along with the VAWA passed by the Senate. I can only hope that the expanded protections under the Senate version are included in the final law.

If you are unhappy with the House version of the VAWA, click here to protest it!

VIOLENCE IS VIOLENCE, no matter who the victim is.


  1. This is such an honest view of this and I think it's great you're talking about this bill and issue because so many women go through this and it's important in the lesbian community too. Violence against women can happen in every make really good points. I really hope the expanded provisions go through too Ashley


    1. Thanks so much, Dale! :) Since domestic violence hits harder in the LGBT community and for minority women, I just think that those who fall into those categories should be protected as much as possible!


  2. "It's one thing to deny women the health care that they deserve, but it is another thing to tell certain groups of people that they do not deserve equal protection under the law because of their sexual orientation or citizenship status."

    Agree 100%. I don't understand how anyone can pretend that certain groups of people matter less than others. The funny thing is that these conservatives who hide behind their religion many times are in fact doing the opposite of what their religion tells them.