In the run-up to the U.S. Senate’s vote on the Violence Against Women Act, much has been made in the mainstream media about the fact that, for the first time ever, there was staunch opposition to the bill that would reauthorize and change VAWA. That the opposition came solely from Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee was, and continues to be, fodder for the claim that Republicans are waging a “war on women.”
Of course, it’s an election year, and there’s probably not a word that exits an elected official’s mouth, or that of his/her aides, that’s not calculated to win over certain voters. My guess is that most of the U.S. electorate long ago gave up believing it is, or should be, any other way. The “war on women” nonsense is unquestionably part of that phenomenon. Face it, 100% Republican opposition to Senator Pat Leahy’s VAWA reauthorization bill was far too good for Democrats, feminists and the DV industry that depends on VAWA largess to pass up. They’d have been negligent if they had.
Amid all the hooplah about the committee vote, the exact reasons why the various members voted against the bill went largely unreported. Occasionally one heard mutterings on the Left to the effect that Republicans don’t like the provisions that aim to cover the LGBT community, but that was mostly grasping at straws.
There’s plenty not to like about VAWA, both in its current incarnation and in the bill before the Senate. In fact, there’s a lot not to like even if the only victims of DV you care about are women. All the various anti-male provisions fairly scream for reform, of course. For example, less than 1% of VAWA funds get spent on male victims despite the fact that half of DV victims are males and over one-third of those injured in DV incidents are as well.
The fact that VAWA funds “educational” and training programs that utterly misrepresent the nature of domestic violence is objectionable too as are mandatory arrest policies that research shows do more harm than good. The latter is an example of what I meant when I said that even if you care not a whit about men, VAWA’s still a bad law. When VAWA promotes mandatory arrest that probably increases the chances that a woman will be injured or killed in a DV incident, you know something’s wrong with the law. But Democrats, eager to cash in on the “war on women,” are happy to ignore that inconvenient truth.
Another one is the fact that VAWA offers little in the way of services to women who commit DV. That’s right in line with 40 years of pronouncements by the DV industry to the effect that women don’t commit family violence, but completely at odds with the well-known science on the matter that shows they do.
Far worse is the fact that one of the greatest predictors of a woman’s injury in a DV incident is whether she started it. According to research done for the Centers for Disease Control, some 70% of reciprocal domestic violence is initiated by women. And since about 65% of those injured in a DV incident are women, it would make sense to encourage women to hold their fire. But that’s the last thing the DV industry will do because it would require them to admit that women commit DV. The fact that doing so would save women’s lives and promote their physical and emotional well-being takes a back seat to the political orthodoxy of the DV movement.
And VAWA plays right along.
The many shortcomings of VAWA are far beyond my ability to cover in limited space, but suffice it to say that Republicans in fact have their own version of a VAWA bill that, while far from ideal, aims to eliminate some of the more scandalous elements of existing law. Did you know that? It’s true. Senators Charles Grassley and Kay Bailey Hutchison have co-authored a bill that, among other things would improve existing law by,
· Enhancing the accountability of VAWA grantees to combat waste and fraud identified by the GAO and others. http://saveservices.org/pdf/SAVE-Accountability-and-Oversight.pdfAs you can tell, those are points made by our friends at Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE) whose links are provided. Few members of the MSM have even reported on the Republicans’ alternative bill, much less its contents, preferring to restate Democrats’ claims of a “war on women.” And of course those same Democrats prefer to ignore the competing bill altogether. After all, it’s hard to maintain the fiction of a war on women when the other side has a bill that’s plainly concerned with women’s welfare in their intimate relationships.
· Curbing mandatory arrest policies that violate civil rights. http://www.saveservices.org/downloads/Justice-Denied-DV-Arrest-Policies
· Requiring domestic violence educational program accreditation to ensure truthful, science-based information. http://www.saveservices.org/downloads/SAVE-DV-Educational-Programs
· Removing sex-discriminating language. http://www.saveservices.org/downloads/Domestic-Violence-Programs-Discriminate-Against-Male-Victims
· Implementing changes to curb immigration fraud. http://www.saveservices.org/downloads/VAWA-Funded-Immigration-Fraud
But take another look at the bullet points provided by SAVE. Given the fact that Democrats uniformly oppose, and often as not refuse to even acknowledge, the Republican bill, it’s fair to say that they’re opposed to those bullet-pointed goals. So at this point it’s appropriate to demand of Democratic senators as well as the Vice President why they oppose (a) fiscal responsibility on the part of recipients of VAWA funds, (b) curbing the use of mandatory arrest policies that increase the likelihood of injury to women, (c) the use of truthful, science-based educational programs, (d) removing discriminatory language and (e) reducing immigration fraud.
After all, those look like pretty obvious goals to try to achieve. Who wouldn’t want to use VAWA’s scarce resources more effectively, improve women’s safety, disseminate factual information, and the like? Well, the answer is clear: Democrats, feminists and the DV industry, that’s who.
There’s always room for disagreement on the right ways and means to accomplish those goals, but that’s not what Democrats are doing. They’re doggedly pushing reauthorization of a law that is known to do the things the Republican bill opposes. They figure they can score points with voters that way. But, lost in all the politics is what could actually help reduce domestic violence in a gender-equal way. VAWA has had 18 years to do that and has failed.