Apparently, We Need To Discuss VAWA. Again.
I have discussed VAWA before on this blog, but it seems it really needs to be discussed a bit more. VAWA, or the Violence Against Women Act, is a landmark piece of legislation originally passed in 1994, and it has to be renewed every 6 years. WHY it has to be renewed every six years is beyond me because I wasn’t aware that anyone who was even a remotely decent person in this country was openly pro-violence against women. What politician is going to be willing to stand up there and say, “Violence against women, I am for that.”
At least, I thought that, but then we got the House Republicans and that was the end of my faith in humanity.
Kidding. But it was the end of my faith in our House of Representatives.
It’s not that they are actually pro-violence against women because not even conservative Republicans think it is okay to say that in public. But they are AGAINST several things in VAWA, and because of this there are now TWO versions of VAWA floating around:
VERSION #1 is the bipartisan bill that has already passed through the Senate. IT’S BIPARTISAN. Do you realize how RARE that is nowadays? This is probably because, er, no one is in favor of women getting beaten and raped. I hope.
VERSION #2 is the FAKE version of VAWA that the House is considering. Which the House MUST vote down, which is why you should be contacting your representative or signing this petition. Don’t worry, I won’t ask you to sign it without telling you what the problems are with the House version of VAWA. I’m about to break it down for y’all.
VAWA-~-the real VAWA, the original VAWA-~-does some awesome things, like provide protection services to victims of domestic violence who are forced out of their homes, programs to meet the needs of immigrant women and women with disabilities, funding for rape crisis centers (like the one I volunteer at) and legal aid for survivors of violence. Not going to lie, those are some pretty important services that we can’t afford to lose in a society where domestic violence is practically an epidemic and someone is sexually assaulted every 2 minutes.
So what is the problem? House Republicans have decided that they don’t like that these protections are extended to same-sex couples. I probably don’t need to point this out, but rape or domestic violence can happen in same-sex couples the same way it can happen in heterosexual couples. Just because they are gay does not mean they deserve to be raped.
Know who else the fake VAWA doesn’t protect? Immigrant women. Remember how I JUST TOLD YOU that the original VAWA was set up to help protect immigrant women? Apparently the House Republicans aren’t sure they want to keep that part. Admittedly, the Senate wants to expand it a little, to help undocumented illegal immigrant women obtain temporary visas. Here’s the problem with their logic: if they are in that situation, there’s a reasonable chance that they had NO say in the matter when it came to coming to the US, and we never punish for coerced behavior. On top of that, we consider these women victims of a violation of their human rights, and they necessarily deserve to be given temporary visas so that they can be helped. If we DON’T allow these women to claim these visas and they continue to risk deportation if they come forward, they will never report this violence, and violence in the home helps normalize violence outside the home that we obviously want to avoid. So this is also foolish on the part of the House Republicans.
Their version of VAWA also does not extend protection to Native American women. I’m unclear as to why this is, but it doesn’t matter, I think we all know it’s wrong.
The last group whose protection is going to be cut is COLLEGE STUDENTS. I know a lot of college students read this blog. I know some of you personally and I’ve never met a bunch of you, but I think all of us know that colleges are a particularly dangerous place for women. 1 in 5 women will be raped over the course of her life, but 1 in 4 during her college years. And colleges cover it up and fail to help students, as I’ve previously been over. The SENATE version of VAWA forces colleges to report statistics and records of sexual violence and abuse on campus, to create procedures to enact disciplinary action on campus, and to promote programs that help to deter sexual violence and teach people what to do when confronted with dangerous situations, such as Rape Aggression Defense programs. These provisions are eliminated completely from the House version of VAWA.
This is unacceptable. DO NOT let the House get away with saying that protecting women is not important. It’s a radical statement for a woman to say that she is worth something, that she deserves to feel safe, that she deserves to be protected, that her life matters. Even in the US, it is a radical statement for a girl child to say that she matters. But it shouldn’t be. And VAWA is an important part of keeping women’s rights on the agenda and protecting women. Tell Congress that we matter and that we will vote them out of office in November if they fail to pass the real VAWA.