Everyone Loses if VAWA Isn't Finished

Posted by Kiera Bloore on Thu, Aug 23, 2012 at 11:59 am

In May, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2012 (VAWA), H.R. 4970, a bill which severely undermines the protections available to survivors of violence and places victims at further risk of harm. However, the Senate bill, S. 1925, represents the spirit of the "real VAWA" which protects all victims of violence and maintains programs and services to serve victims and make our communities safer. Congress needs to act immediately to pass a bipartisan VAWA which protects all vulnerable women and victims from abuse and violence.

I witnessed first-hand the importance of VAWA through a recent internship at the DC Volunteer Lawyers Project where I worked with domestic violence survivors who struggled to free themselves from their abusers. These women were scared; they often had nowhere to go after leaving their abusers and did not know where to turn for help. These women were also incredibly courageous. Despite their fears of retaliation, they chose to have faith in our judicial system and trust that they would receive the protection that they deserve. The cases I saw in DC Superior Court were devastating and the women were inspirational, but these cases did not necessarily involve immigrant women, Native women, or women in the LGBTQ community – I can only imagine how much more difficult it is for these particularly vulnerable women to stand up for themselves and reach out for help. That is why we all must vocalize our support for the reauthorization of a “real” VAWA – one that provides adequate protections for all survivors of violence including immigrants, members of Native American communities, and members of the LGBTQ community.

Since its enactment in 1994, VAWA has always included important protections for immigrant survivors of domestic violence, recognizing that the abusers of immigrant victims often use their victims’ lack of immigration status as a tool for abuse, leaving the victim afraid to seek services or report the abuse to law enforcement. The U and T visas for victims of violent crimes and for human trafficking victims were created in VAWA 2000. Immigrant victims desperately need these legal protections to prevent abusers from using immigration status as a tool of abuse and control. Survivors of violence should never be forced to choose between living with abuse and facing deportation.

The following story from HR 4970 Empowers Abusers, Not Victims illustrates why Congress needs to reauthorize a VAWA that does not roll-back protections for immigrant victims of violence.

"Sara" entered the United States on a student visa to study at a prestigious university. Within a year, she fell in love and married a United States citizen. Her husband soon became controlling and aggressive, forcing her to quit school. His beatings became increasingly violent, culminating in a particularly vicious attack that left her unconscious. Neighbors called the police, who broke down the door to rescue her. Yet Sara withdrew the charges against him out of fear that he would kill her, as is too often the case. Without proper U.S. identification and legal status allowing her to financially support herself, Sara was afraid to escape her extremely dangerous husband . . . While her husband was briefly jailed, Sara met a victim advocate and began to complete a VAWA application for legal residency in secret. Once it was approved, advocates strategically planned her escape and she was relocated to another state . . . If Sara had not had the promise of confidentiality she likely would not have taken the steps necessary to free herself from her abuser. Had it not been for the VAWA protections that keep victims' secrets safe, Sara might not be alive today.

We also cannot turn a blind eye to the horrible violence committed in our country against Native women and LGBTQ individuals. According to the Rachel Coalition, Native women are 2.5 times more likely than other U.S. women to be battered, raped, or stalked: 34% of Native women will be raped in their lifetimes and 39% will be victims of domestic violence. While LGBTQ individuals experience violence at about the same rate as non-LGBTQ individuals, a 2010 survey reports that 45% of LGBTQ victims were turned away when they sought help from a domestic violence shelter and nearly 55% of those who sought protection orders were denied them.

These statistics are shameful. And what is more frustrating is that we all know and Congress knows that the reauthorization of VAWA could provide real protection for these survivors. Since the original passage of VAWA in 1994, more victims report domestic violence to the police and the rate of non-fatal intimate partner violence against women has decreased by 63%. Still, violence persists and we need to act now.

Congress has not taken adequate steps to move forward with VAWA. We need to let Congress know that everyone loses if VAWA isn’t finished.

As Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said at the Stand Up for VAWA Rally: “It is simply preposterous to assert that women shall be protected from violence unless they are immigrants – or Native Americans living on reservations, or those in the LGBT community. All Americans are equal, and all women are equal. . .”

While we are still struggling to make progress, I take pride in the fact that the Jewish community has consistently been at the forefront of this issue. Jewish texts make it clear that violence against women is unacceptable. In the “Book of Women,” Maimonides writes: "And thus the sages commanded that a man should honor his wife more than he honors himself, and love her as he loves himself. And if he has money, he should increase her benefits according to his wealth. He should not intimidate her too much; he should speak with her gently, and should be neither saddened nor angry" (Sefer Nashim 15:19). I am confident that the Jewish community will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that all women – regardless of their race, religion, age, national origin or immigration status – are protected from violence.

Comments (2)

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Posted by Soni on September 17, 2012 at 10:15 pm

Detroit attorney Philip Holman, vice prnsedeit of the National Congress for Fathers and Children. On the practical level, fathers realize that divorce means they lose their kids. Unfortunately, this loss by children of their fathers' influence is directly responsible far more than any other cause for the modern national scourges of gang life, crime and much more. CULTURE: Fifty years ago, Father knows best was a hit TV show, in which insurance agent Jim Anderson (actor Robert Young) would come home from work each evening, trade his sport jacket for a nice, comfortable sweater, and then deal with the everyday growing-up problems of his family. He could always be counted on to resolve that week's crisis with a combination of kindness, fatherly strength and common sense. Today, television virtually always portrays husbands as bumbling losers or contemptible, self-absorbed egomaniacs. Whether in dramas, comedies or commercials, the patriarchy is dead, at least on TV where men are fools unless of course they're gay. On Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, the fab five are supremely knowledgeable on all things hip, their life's highest purpose being to help those less fortunate than themselves that is, straight men to become cool. As this issue of Whistleblower shows, experts like Ph.D. scholar Christina Hoff Sommers, author of The War Against Boys, agree: It's a bad time to be a boy in America. Sommers provides example after example of what can only be called an all-out anti-male campaign: The carnage committed by two boys in Littleton, Colorado, declares the Congressional Quarterly Researcher, has forced the nation to reexamine the nature of boyhood in America. William Pollack, director of the Center for Men at McLean Hospital and author of the best-selling Real Boys: Rescuing Our Sons from the Myths of Boyhood, tells audiences around the country, The boys in Littleton are the tip of the iceberg. And the iceberg is all boys. In fact, Sommers reveals, it has become fashionable in elitist circles to conspire to change boys' very identity: There are now conferences, workshops, and institutes dedicated to transforming boys. Carol Gilligan, professor of gender studies at Harvard Graduate School of Education, writes of the problem of boys' masculinity in a patriarchal social order. Barney Brawer, director of the Boys' Project at Tufts University, told Education Week: We've deconstructed the old version of manhood, but we've not [yet] constructed a new version. In the spring of 2000, the Boys' Project at Tufts offered five workshops on reinventing Boyhood. The planners promised emotionally exciting sessions: We'll laugh and cry, argue and agree, reclaim and sustain the best parts of the culture of boys and men, while figuring out how to change the terrible parts. Terrible ? As this edition of Whistleblower shows, there is nothing wrong and a very great deal right with boys and masculinity. As maverick feminist Camille Paglia courageously reminds her men-hating colleagues, masculinity is the most creative cultural force in history. The problem, said David Kupelian, managing editor of WND and Whistleblower, is that misguided feminists, intent on advancing a radically different worldview than the one on which this nation was founded, have succeeded in fomenting a revolution. And that revolution amounts to a powerful and pervasive campaign against masculinity, maleness, boys, men and patriarchy. Issue highlights include: Banning mom' and dad,' by Joseph Farah, who exposes the latest in bizarre and dangerous legislation by the California legislature. The fathers' war by Stephen Baskerville, a troubling look at how increasing numbers of America's military men risk all to serve their nation in wartime, only to be divorced by their wives and lose their children. The war on fathers, by David Kupelian, an in-depth look at what's really behind the feminization of America. Why men are being attacked, by Dr. Laura Schlessinger, who says: It isn't all about hating men it's largely about disdaining and dismissing them. Has the bias pendulum swung against men? Fewer college-bound, higher suicide rates, shorter life spans suggest males getting shaft. Paternity fraud rampant in U.S., showing how 30 percent of men assessed for court-ordered child support are not actually the fathers of the children receiving the support. Shared parenting' seen as custody solution, a look at bills in New York that would require courts to treat mom and dad equally. Resolving the boy crisis in schools by Jeffery M. Leving and Glenn Sacks, showing how today's public schools are profoundly unsuited for the genuine needs of boys. Child support gold-diggers by Carey Roberts, who shows how frequent fraud results in fathers being victimized by the justice system. Hating our fathers, hating ourselves by Bob Just, a penetrating look at the high cost of resenting the fathers and husbands in our lives. And much more. This is one of the most soulful, important and insightful issues of Whistleblower we've produced in a long time, said Kupelian. I urge people to read it it's much more than eye-opening. It could be life-changing. Really. Note: You can also order a subscription to Whistleblower magazine. Simply click here.If you wish to order by phone, call our toll-free order line at 1-800-4WND-COM (1-800-496-3266). Face it Guys, watch the commercials, sit coms, court hearings, ect. And see for yourself. Do the research. I believe Men and Fathers should stand up for there Rights. women do all the time.They are Not as inocent as they would like everyone to believe.


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Posted by Tetris on December 27, 2012 at 3:48 am

Most of the children are asebud at home. by their own relative, sometimes by a parent or siblings. I have also heard cases, where the father abuses the daughter, and mother just ignores it, as it gives her free time. where will the child go for any help? children are conditioned to go to their parents for emotional support. so, the keep going to their father or mother and want to please them as that is what they are told to do. parents telling children to respect elders. Do what they tell. You have to please them in order to get recogonition/acceptance .. this is the basic reason why children do not report that they are being asebud. in fact they don't even know they are being asebud. they only believe that they are still not being able to please his/her abuser. They think it is their fault and blame themselves for it. Good movie suggestion: The Woodsman . If you haven't seen it before, it is a must-see movie.