Posted by: hoppybottoms | February 14, 2013

V-Day: Happy Valentine’s Day and Let’s Wrap Up This VAWA Thing Already!

Sorry, this is a more serious post and not so uplifting for Valentine’s Day…

In 2006 I went to Washington DC with some fellow (female) students at Stony Brook University to Lobby for VAWA: The Violence Against Women Act. On lobbying days you get to walk in and talk to senators (or their assistants) and tell them why they should be on your side of a particular issue. You can also listen to politicians and sometimes celebrities who are supporting the same issue. I actually got to listen to Joe Biden speak in person, who, despite all of his bumbling as a vice president, happened to be very persuasive and eloquent at the time.  Gabriel Union also spoke in favor of the bill, as she was a victim of rape prior to becoming a star and found it to be an important cause.

It was supposed to be reauthorized last year (2012) but it was halted. Since I am not eloquent enough to explain the details I have quoted some information below and provided links to important sites.

From the hotline.org:

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…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.

The Violence Against Women laws provide programs and services, including:

  • Federal rape shield law.[16]
  • Community violence prevention programs
  • Protections for female victims who are evicted from their homes because of events related to domestic violence or stalking
  • Funding for victim assistance services, like rape crisis centers and hotlines
  • Programs to meet the needs of immigrant women and women of different races or ethnicities
  • Programs and services for female victims with disabilities
  • Legal aid for female survivors of violence

(Information from Wikipedia)

According to the Huffington Post:

The bill authorizes $659 million over five years for VAWA programs. It also expands VAWA to include new protections for LGBT and Native American victims of domestic violence, to give more attention to sexual assault prevention and to help reduce a backlog in processing rape kits.

VAWA typically gets reauthorized with little fanfare. But Congress failed to do so last year amid House Republican objections to provisions in the Senate bill that expanded protections for LGBT, Native American and undocumented immigrant victims of violence. This year’s Senate VAWA bill includes the LGBT and Native American provisions, but leaves out the piece for undocumented immigrants. 

Go to desertnews.com to read about why there are people opposed to the LGBT and Native American provisions. My favorite quote from that article:

VAWA “represents a ‘feminist’ attack on family values.”

Give me a break.

As a woman and the mother of a daughter, this legislation is of the utmost importance. I think Senator Patrick Leahy said it best:

“It is difficult to understand why people would come in here and try to limit which victims could be helped by this legislation,” Leahy said. “If you’re the victim, you don’t want to think that a lot of us who have never faced this kind of problem, sat here in this body and said, ‘Well, we have to differentiate which victims America will protect.'”

To read more about VAWA: VAWA facts Sheet

Information on how to support VAWA via FB and Twitter

Support VAWA- it would be great to eliminate violence but until then let’s give the abused rights and a voice.

And…

Happy Valentine’s Day

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