Saturday, March 17, 2012

Violence Against Women

It seems as though the government has graduated, in a sense.

It started with abortion. But then someone decided that contraception was an issue, so we added that, too. The contraception issue blossomed into an all-encompassing attack on preventative women's health care coverage, and now, it seems as though we're adding domestic violence to the mix.

A little background, ladies.

I am copying and pasting the information below, as it is perfectly outlined and needs no tinkering from me. Also, it's easier for all of YOU to skim through one page versus visiting a new site. It is sourced from this website: - I encourage you to visit said website should you wish to read more text on the issue.

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is a landmark piece of legislation that sought to improve criminal justice and community-based responses to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking in the United States. The passage of VAWA in 1994, and its reauthorization in 2000 and 2005, has changed the landscape for victims who once suffered in silence. Victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking have been able to access services, and a new generation of families and justice system professionals has come to understand that domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking are crimes that our society will not tolerate.

  • Creating new system responses – VAWA programs, funding and law reforms have changed federal, tribal, state and local responses to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking by:
  • Securing buy-in from formerly unengaged systems, like law enforcement, courts, and social services
  • Creating a federal leadership role that has encouraged tribes, states and local government to improve responses to victims and perpetrators
  • Establishing new federal crimes of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking to fill in jurisdictional gaps in prosecuting these crimes
  • Defining the crimes of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking, as well as identifying promising practices to respond to these crimes
  • Focusing on the needs of underserved communities, such as immigrant and Native American women
VAWA 1994 – Congress, in passing VAWA 1994, envisioned a nation with an engaged criminal justice system and coordinated community responses. VAWA 1994 fostered:
  • Community-coordinated responses that brought together, for the first time, the criminal justice system, the social services system, and private nonprofit organizations responding to domestic violence and sexual assault
  • Recognition and support for the efforts of domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centers, and other community organizations nationwide working everyday to end this violence
  • Federal prosecution of interstate domestic violence and sexual assault crimes
  • Federal guarantees of interstate enforcement of protection orders
  • Protections for battered immigrants
  • A new focus on underserved populations and Native victims of domestic violence and sexual assault
VAWA 2000 – Congress improved on the foundation established in VAWA 1994, including:
  • Identifying the additional related crimes of dating violence and stalking
  • The creation of a much-needed legal assistance program for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault
  • Promoting supervised visitation programs for families experiencing violence
  • Further protecting immigrants experiencing domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault or stalking, by establishing U- and T-visas and by focusing on trafficking of persons
VAWA 2005 – Congress took a more holistic approach to addressing violence against women. In addition to enhancing criminal and civil justice and community-based responses to violence, VAWA 2005 created notable new focus areas such as:
  • Containing provisions that exclusively serve to protect immigrant victims of domestic violence but also include immigration protections to alleviate violence against immigrant women that previous legislation had tried, but failed to alleviate
  • Developing prevention strategies to stop violence before it starts
  • Protecting individuals from unfair eviction due to their status as victims  of domestic violence or stalking
  • Creating the first federal funding stream to support rape crisis centers
  • Developing culturally-and linguistically-specific services for communities
  • Enhancing programs and services for victims with disabilities
  • Broadening VAWA service provisions to include children and teenagers
Source: Domestic Abuse Hotline

The time has come to renew this act, but, as expected, it's not going to happen without a fight. There are new provisions this time around - provisions that have most Republicans up in arms, and have many Democrats slinging around "anti-women" accusations. “I favor the Violence Against Women Act and have supported it at various points over the years, but there are matters put on that bill that almost seem to invite opposition,” said Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama, who opposed the latest version last month in the Judiciary Committee. “You think that’s possible? You think they might have put things in there we couldn’t support that maybe then they could accuse you of not being supportive of fighting violence against women?”(Source: NYT)

Gee, Senator Sessions. I never thought about that. You know, I bet you're right. I bet that the new provisions in the VAW Act are only there so that Democrats can accuse you of being "anti-women." Silly, sneaky Democrats.

"The legislation would continue existing grant programs to local law enforcement and battered women shelters, but would expand efforts to reach Indian tribes and rural areas. It would increase the availability of free legal assistance to victims of domestic violence, extend the definition of violence against women to include stalking, and provide training for civil and criminal court personnel to deal with families with a history of violence. It would also allow more battered illegal immigrants to claim temporary visas, and would include same-sex couples in programs for domestic violence.

Republicans say the measure, under the cloak of battered women, unnecessarily expands immigration avenues by creating new definitions for immigrant victims to claim battery. More important, they say, it fails to put in safeguards to ensure that domestic violence grants are being well spent. It also dilutes the focus on domestic violence by expanding protections to new groups, like same-sex couples, they say." (Source: NYT)

So, you're saying that Indian women, female immigrants, and lesbians/transgendered women DON'T count as women, and shouldn't receive the same help and protection that other women do? If you are a woman in America, then you are a woman in America and it DOESN'T FUCKING MATTER what your sexual orientation is, what your heritage is, or how long you've had a visa for.

Then again, these new provisions are only in the renewal so that Democrats can accuse Republicans of being "anti-women," so what am I getting so worked up about?


Read the whole (incredibly well-written article) here: Violence Against Women Act


Check out this video from Melissa Harris-Perry on MSNBC: VAWA Video
A bit lengthy, but an interesting and in-depth discussion that relates to the latest blog post.

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