No Surprises from the House

On Friday, February 22, 2013, the House released their version of VAWA (S. 47) leaving out protections for LGBT, Native American, and undocumented immigrants. Virginia’s very own, Eric Cantor, helped draft this version. 

Despite the pressure from the Senate, the White House, and 17 Republican Representatives who wrote a letter to John Boehner and Cantor expressing support of the legislation, the House is determined to not add any additional protections to vulnerable LGBT, Native American, or undocumented women.

Here’s what MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry had to say: 

“Is it that lesbians and gay men can just a take punch better than straight women? Or maybe you’ve decided that Native American women are particularly good at handling intimate violence because you and the other House Republicans still refuse to support a bill that gives tribal authorities the ability to prosecute those who commit acts of violence on tribal lands. Maybe your refusal to reauthorize VAWA is actually based on a belief that when some people are abused it’s just not a big deal because they can handle it.”

 

The House version will be discussed again in the Rules Committee on Tuesday, February 26.

One Billion Rising Guest Speaker: Rebiya Kadeer

One of the speakers at the One Billion Rising RVA event was Rebiya Kadeer. I was unfamiliar with her activism beforehand, but her story is inspiring.

She comes from Xinjiang region of China. In the 1980s she became one of the richest women in China through real estate and other business ventures, and she has also held office in China’s parliament. However, she was imprisoned for over 5 years in China for releasing confidential government information. In 2005, with pressure from the U.S. and human rights organizations like Amnesty International, Kadeer was released and exiled to Washington, D.C. In 2006, she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Throughout her life, she has always been an advocate for women’s rights throughout the world. During her speech, she describes the cruelty toward women that she witnessed while in prison in China and how women around the world need to come together to end violence toward all people.

One Billion Rising RVA Pictures

Last week on Valentine’s Day, I attended the One Billion Rising RVA event at the Richmond Coliseum. I wasn’t able to attend the entire event, but I went from 12-1:30 to hear the guest speakers. It was a very inspirational, empowering, and sometimes tear-jerking experience!

Here are a few of the pictures I captured:

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Above: A picture of the advocates listening to Susan Singer’s introduction of One Billion Rising

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Above: Everyone was asked to “claim their dragon” by writing a statement that was important to them (i.e. a confession, a quote, a name, etc.) on a construction-paper heart and then gluing it to the dragon. What an empowering activity!

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Above: An up-close look at the dragon…”I own that I spoke up when I saw signs of abuse in my friend’s relationship” … “For my grandmother, my mother, my sister & myself” … “Do not sink below, rise above those who bring you down!” … “I have the power to do all things through Christ which strengthens me.”

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Above: The walls through the Coliseum to the One Billion Rising event were lined with posters like this.

VAWA PASSES IN SENATE 78-22!

Good news, y’all!

VAWA passed in the U.S. Senate today with bi-partisan support.

This means that $659 million will be allocated toward VAWA programs over 5 years (note: this is a 17% decrease since 2005 reauthorization) and protections will be extended to the LGBT community and Native Americans.

BUT VAWA still needs to pass the House, so the fight isn’t over yet!

An Opposing View

Sometimes I like to challenge my opinions by forcing myself to think “from the other side.” Usually, it either helps me solidify my views or it helps me see the gaps in my thinking or decisions.

Either way, for the sake of debate, one should at least know what the opposing side’s argument is. Being aware of and understanding a variety of viewpoints can help policymakers make more informed decisions, and aid in negotiations, compromise or persuasion.

Recently, I read this article from the Washington Times by Penny Young Nance, who is the CEO of Concerned Women for America.

Nance argues that VAWA should not be passed through Congress because it is ineffective, a waste of taxpayer dollars, and diverts away from real women’s issues by adding feminist values of “gender identity” and “sexual orientation.”

She also states that if policymakers and feminist liberals were really concerned about reducing violence against women then they would encourage marriage between a man and a woman. She says that women are less likely to be abused if they’re married as opposed to living with their partners. She also says that VAWA “demonizes” men. Nance states that there’s a better alternative, the SAFER Act, which is the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Registry Act.

What are your thoughts on this?

Is SAFER better than VAWA?

Is there evidence to support Nance’s assertions? 

Is she just as biased as VAWA supporters?

How could VAWA’s sponsors in Congress use differing opinions like Nance’s in their decision-making process?

Let me know what you think, readers! And stay tuned for a follow up post analyzing the different perspectives on how violence against women should be approached.

VAWA Update: VAWA is on the Senate floor today!! Contact your legislators!

 

VAWA Action Alert!

If you’re not familiar with Unitewomen.org, you should be. I had the opportunity to be the SC Campus Organizer in Spring 2012 and they are a phenomenal group of individuals who are committed to women’s rights and equality for all people.

Go like them on Facebook! They’re really a great resource for up-to-date information on current issues.

They recently posted this update on VAWA regarding certain Senators who are opposing VAWA. If you have Twitter, I encourage you to give these Senators a shout out.

Here’s what UniteWomen.org had to say:

These Senators voted to block VAWA. Please tweet this morning between 8:00 and 12:00 EST the following tweets (suggest at least 15 minutes between tweets) You can also follow us and retweet. www.twitter.com/unitewomenorg

(Senator’s handle) then:

Women are watching. We vote out misogynists! Pass S47 #VAWA #noexcuses

Disappointed in your No vote on #VAWA. We will remember you didn’t support the women of your state.

Women are watching. Expect us in 2014. Pass S47 #VAWA #noexcuses

Yes on #VAWA. Everyday in the US, 3+ women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends. #dv

Pass #VAWA. Every 9 seconds a woman is assaulted or beaten in the US. #dv

Pass #VAWA. Physical aggression occurs in 1 in 3 teen dating relationships

Pass#VAWA. Native Americans are victims of rape or sexual assault at over 2X the rate of other racial groups. #dv #sa

Senator’s handles:

Cruz, Ted – (R – TX) .@SenTedCruz
Lee, Mike – (R – UT) .@SenMikeLee
Scott, Tim – (R – SC) .@SenatorTimScott
Rubio, Marco – (R – FL) .@marcorubio
Johanns, Mike – (R – NE) .@Mike_Johanns
Paul, Rand – (R – KY) .@SenRandPaul
Risch, James E. – (R – ID) .@SenatorRisch
Roberts, Pat – (R – KS) .@SenPatRoberts

Thank you for your commitment!

Urge Your Reps to Take Action on VAWA!

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Friends and Fellow Advocates,

Since my last post, there has been some movement on the national level regarding VAWA. Last week, the 113th Congress reintroduced VAWA in both the Senate (S. 47) and House (H.R. 11) floors. From the news articles I’ve read, it seems that the Senate is gaining more ground than the House right now with over 60 bi-partisan co-sponsers.

Even Virginia’s very own Senator Tim Kaine has stepped up in support of VAWA:

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Stay tuned for more details on this bill this week!