The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 expired at the beginning of last month as the 112th Congress ended their tenure. Both sides of the aisle couldn’t reach compromise on a bill which should never have become partisan: this was an act of utmost importance. What’s even more infuriating is that, even though the Senate sent the bill to the House with 85-8 supporting, there are still those out there fighting blindly against its passing.
According to a stat sheet provided by WhiteHouse.com, the bill secured our nation’s Rape Shield Law, prohibiting the publication of a victim’s identity and prosecuting the attacker. VAWA also “mandated that victims, no matter their income levels, are not forced to bear the expense of their own rape exams or for service of a protection order.” In addition, “VAWA funds train over 500,000 law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges, and other personnel every year.” The effect of the passing of the act in 1994 has caused rates of “intimate partner violence” to fall 67 percent by 2010, while also causing state laws to recognize spousal abuse and abuse by a stranger as the same crime.
Why, then, are there still groups balking at citizens to write to their representatives asking them to block the Violence Against Women Act? Well, the answer lies in discrimination.
See, the big difference between the bill being proposed today and the one Joe Biden introduced in the early Clinton days is the greatly enhanced protection for immigrants, Native Americans whose husbands live and abuse them on tribal lands, and the LGBT community. One major controversy is the allowance of tribal-courts to try non-Natives when they commit rape on reservations. In addition, support groups that receive federal money are prohibited from discriminating against LGBT victims. The last large change is that the act will allow the issuing of “a backlog of unused visas for undocumented immigrants who are victims of domestic violence,” according to PBS Frontline.
House Republicans blocked the passing of the act last year because of these changes. The huge difference between last year and this year is the loss of GOP support from immigrants and women.
Why, then, are people STILL trying to block the bill? There are the anti-feminists who see the bill as vilifying all men. Perhaps some of the men feel misplaced guilt, or feel that even just a finger-point could have people lashing out at them, or worse, being prosecuted and sentenced by a jury without proof. That’s not a good enough reason to block the protection act. There are those who don’t realize that the federal funding needed for the bill goes into training for judges, prosecutors, and police officers.
It’s those who are still “playing the party game.” It’s those who see people who are different from them and think “I’m better.”
Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD) said it best this week, stating that “I can’t believe that there is any House member who’s going to get up and say there is somebody who lives in America who I do not believe ought to not be protected from domestic violence.” However, what about the people who they represent; who vote for them? Why must we continue to tolerate hatred to this extent?
Please urge your hometown representatives to vote in favor of passing VAWA — it’s one of the most important bills passed in the past few decades and has helped protect victims across the country. Wouldn’t you want protection for your sister, mother, daughter, friend, or loved one?