The Violence Against Women Act is a bipartisan law that was enacted in 1994. Since that time it has been reaffirmed without much trouble. That isn’t the case this year.
I try to steer clear of politics on my blog for obvious reasons. I figure we all have our opinions and are entitled to them. There’s no reason to stir up a hornet’s nest. But this is a very important topic. It’s not a democrat or a republican issue. It’s a human issue. Pure and simple, it’s about doing what’s right. And people need to be stirred up. They need to act now before it’s too late.
On May 8th, the House is going to vote on H.R.4970 – Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2012. This bill changes and/or eliminates important protections within the Act.
According to Michelle M. Ortiz who reports in the Huffington Post:
HR 4970′s proposal to amend VAWA also effectively eliminates protections for immigrant survivors of violent crime, including kidnapping, rape, human trafficking and domestic violence by creating untenable requirements for U-visa applications.
The Senate version, S. 1925, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2012 which just recently passed also adds provisions for the protection of same sex partner abuse victims and expands the authority of Native American officials to handle cases of abuse of Indian women by non-Indians. The House version takes these provisions out. It also makes it harder for an immigrant to get the help needed to get away from her abuser. See Ortiz’s post at the above link.
Immigrant and Native American women as well as those in the LGBT community are high-risk victims and in my opinion should be afforded the protections in the Senate bill.
According to this post by Suzy Khimm:
The rate of domestic violence among LGBT couples is about the same as for heterosexual ones — an estimated 25 to 33 percent experience abuse in their lifetimes, according to National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. But LGBT victims are significantly less likely to seek out help: 45 percent of them have been turned away from domestic violence shelters, and only 7 percent call the police after an incident of domestic violence. LGBT women are particularly at risk: they’re victims of the majority of murders related to domestic violence in the gay community, the coalition says.
Immigrant and Native American women are also high-risk groups. Women crossing the border illegally are subject to rape by their “coyotes,” and border patrol officials, according to confirmed reports and court cases, and they’re also at risk of sexual assault in immigration detention facilities. Native American women are among the most vulnerable groups, with 46 percent subject to rape, physical violence, or stalking by a domestic partner at some point in their lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Some in favor of the House bill are trying to question the constitutionality of the Native American provision. However, you can read the letter here that was sent by several law professors that states they believe the provision is constitutional and needed for the safety of Native American women.
For the record, I do not consider myself a Democrat or a Republican. I vote according to the person and how well I think he or she can do the job. I have some beliefs that are democratic strong holds and some that are republican. I don’t think either side is entirely right. And in some cases they are both just plain wrong. So again, I urge you to consider this matter as a person and how you would want to be treated and how you would want your daughters and other family members to be treated.
I cannot imagine what the drafters of the House version could possibly be thinking. Apparently they’re not thinking about the women and children that will be abandoned by this version. Or those who will lose their lives because of it.
I strongly oppose the Cantor-Adams bill because it rolls back VAWA protections, it abandons Native women, immigrant and LGBT victims and it is NOT the REAL VAWA. I know what violence looks like because I worked as a Child Protective Services Investigator and Supervisor for 9 years. After that I worked as a custody investigator for 10 years for the Family Courts.
I have seen victims (at their most fearful and vulnerable), survivors of abuse, the perpetrators and the children affected by domestic violence. I have interviewed countless perpetrators. I can count only a very few (out of the thousands of investigations I conducted) acknowledgements from the abusers. Do the drafters and supporters of the House version really believe that having an immigration officer interview these perpetrators (and thereby take away the confidentiality and safety of the victim) is likely to obtain a confession? I highly doubt they’ll get a ‘Yeah, I did it. Give her citizenship.” If they do believe this, then they really do not deserve to be in congress. They need to be out in the trenches seeing violence and it’s effects first hand and gaining some real life experience.
By voting for H.R. 4970 they will be turning their backs on battered and abused women and men everywhere. It often takes weeks, months or even years for an abuse victim to overcome their fear and gather their courage to leave their abuser. Knowing they will have a safe and confidential place to go has helped thousands. A vote for this version, will be taking that from them.
With this bill, the House is in essence making it harder to ensure the safety of Native American, Immigrant and LGBT victims and giving the abusers another way to hurt their victims. The message this bill sends is that you only count if you’re straight, non-Native American, and a citizen. Otherwise your life and the lives of your children just do not matter.
Obviously the way our rights have been eroded over the past few years, once this bill is passed who is to say that the rights of other victims won’t be taken away as well? It’s a very slippery slope.
I hope Congress will vote against this version and provide us with one that will protect all victims of domestic violence. There is no place in this act for them to debate immigration issues. That’s not the VAWA’s purpose.
Please get involved and let your representatives know that H.R. 4970 must be opposed. For an easy way to email your rep, go here. There’s a link to the right which allows you to send a letter to those who represent you.
Here are some other links you may find helpful regarding this issue:
- National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women
- Open Congress.com – S. 1925
- Huffington Post Article
- CNN Article
- Center for American Progress – If you only have time to read one – read this one please
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this important topic whether you agree or disagree. But please keep it to this topic. Any party bashing posts will be removed.