This week’s Senate vote for the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is being viewed by many as a referendum on the issue of violence against women in America. We here at LGBG know that the problem of violent crimes against women, such as rape, physical abuse, intimidation and stalking are both social and health issues that must be adequately addressed in America.
Since the recent mass shootings in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, Aurora, Colorado and Tucson, Arizona, combined with the discovery and outrage over the sexual abuse of young boys at Penn State, the arguments for and against gun control, as well as the need to address the problem of mental illness in America have been loud and clear. It is unfortunate that we have remained quiet and less emotional about the violence against women in the home, schools and armed services. The House of Representatives chose to vote against the reauthorization of thus much needed legislation, and now we are waiting for the Senate to act. Why must there be so much resistance to reauthorize an act already on the books that seeks to protect women? In other words that are more direct and simple—why the double standard?
Statistics by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and UN Women indicate that:
- Approximately 20% of American women have been raped or have experienced an attempted rape;
- Greater than 15% of American women have been stalked;
- Approximately 25% of American women have reported physical abuse by an intimate partner.
Despite these disturbing statistics, Congress has chosen to become mired down in technicalities when discussing this issue, rather than acting on the urgency of the matter.
Legislators seem to give a lot of lip service to support for women and issues relative to them, but often when the time to act arises, that strong support quickly dissipates or becomes lost in bureaucratic rhetoric and entanglements. For instance, we claim to fully support our military. If that is the case, that support should extend to the protection of females in the military from violent sexual attacks and intimidation at the hands of fellow soldiers. We now boast that women can go into active combat. Imagine being able to boast that we keep our females in the military completely safe sexual attacks by other soldiers. Also, legislators tout the need to curb the deficit to ensure the fiscal health of the nation for our young people. Considering that so many young women and even girls, particularly students, experience rape, stalking and intimidation, it is just as important that we stop violence against women in this country to ensure the physical and mental health of these citizens.
Interestingly, it was reported that the Super Bowl celebration historically has resulted in the single largest day of human trafficking. Amazingly, on this day of records, this one significant dark statistic is never mentioned. Once again, this points to a double standard by our leaders and our society on both the value of women and their right to protection from violence. We understand that VAWA does not address the issue of human trafficking, but we know that the reauthorization of this act can be the lightning rod to ignite meaningful discussion of all aspects of violence to women, thus leading to increased awareness of the problem and solutions.
It is important that we reauthorize the Senate version of the Violence Against Women Act because in addition to funding crucial grant programs, it makes critical improvements in the former act and strengthens the program to protect all victims of domestic and sexual abuse. The purpose of the reauthorization of VAWA is simple: To ensure that “college students, immigrants, Native Americans, gays, lesbians and transgender people have access to anti-abuse programs”. The Violence Against Women Act contains programs that work to prevent violence and to help victims of violence and their families remain safe and self-sufficient”. We urge you to contact your U.S. senator and ask that he/she support this bill on the floor and oppose any harmful amendments to the current act. Hopefully, the perspective of a double standard will be a myth, and this week the Senate will show that by its vote to reauthorize this act.
For your convenience, we are providing a link to the list of the phone numbers and addresses for the members of the U.S. Senate. It is as follows: http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/peace/senate.html. You also can email your opinion or a message on the topic of VAWA to your senator at the following site: https://www.popvox.com/bills/us/113/s47/comment/support.
Sources for this article: