It’s Not Over Yet.

As I’m sure many know by now, but perhaps not: VAWA was finally passed by both the House and the Senate with the added protections of LGBT, Native American, and immigrant women!

I’ll admit that I was worried at first, but I’m glad the all-inclusive Senate version succeeded!

However, the fight is not over yet. VAWA still has a long way to go thanks to the sequestration. Approximately $20,000,000 in funding will be cut from programs supported by the Act. This translates into over 34,000 victims losing access to services like shelter or legal aid. The sequester’s impact on women doesn’t end there; women’s health programs, Head Start, and SNAP face cuts too.

In addition to policy concerns, violence against women will not stop until there is a shift in society’s perception. On the cultural level, Americans are still debating which party (the abuser or the victim) has the obligation to prevent sexual assault and rape.

Some, like Sean Hannity and Gayle Trotter in the video below, argue that women need to be trained to protect themselves (using a gun, in this case) when attacked by a man. They argue that it’s about choice. If women don’t want to carry a firearm, fine! But that’s the solution to the problem. If women only had guns, they’d never be harmed by a man. Hannity was a marksmen by age 11, so he knows what he’s saying.

Enter, Zerlina Maxwell – a political analyst and writer – who agrees that women should have the right to defend themselves, but that isn’t the essence of the problem. Women should have the choice to protect themselves at all times; however, the priority should not be to arm women. That puts the pressure on the victim to stop the violence that is happening to them, and when they do not succeed, there is more potential for society to say the victim is at fault than the abuser.

What will decrease violence, as Maxwell argues, is training men not to rape. That simple. Stop the action before it can start. Teach men to listen when a women says “no.” Maxwell so accurately describes (while Hannity is talking over her) how abusers are most likely to be someone the victim knows – this isn’t some “faceless, nameless criminal…a lot of times it’s someone you know and trust.” So if we start with men, if they learn at a young age to respect women, to honor their right to say “no” without fear of harm, to speak out when they see injustice occurring and to view women as equals then maybe violence against women will begin to decrease in our culture.

However, as you will see, not everyone believes this to be true. Some believe that it is impossible to train men not to be rapists. Check out the full video (it’s worth it) of Maxwell’s – discussion – with Hannity and Trotter:

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!