VAWA: Once Bipartisan, it is now a ‘war on women’ tool

BettyJean Downing

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), a bipartisan bill, which first passed in 1994 and has been reauthorized twice since then, increased federal penalties for domestic violence and provided funding for groups and services that aid victims of domestic abuse. The bill hit the bipartisan sweet spot of being both tough on crime and oriented toward women’s rights. Usually it’s reauthorized without much fanfare. This time around, however, several Senate Republicans, led by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), are putting up a fight. Despite the fact that the bill has several Republican sponsors, all eight GOP senators on the Judiciary Committee voted against the bill when the committee considered it last month.( Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), Tim Scott (R-SC), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Rand Paul (R-KY), Pat Roberts (R-KS), and James Risch (R-ID))
VAWA’s reauthorization bill that protects victims of domestic violence has been stalled because of the insertion of additional provisions that were added to the original bill. Additions include undocumented immigrants, as well as LGBT and Native American victims of domestic violence. Congress failed to reauthorize the amended bill by the end of 2012, and the Senate is now considering the same legislation again, in its new legislative session.
All of the women in the Senate, with the exception of Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE), co-sponsored the legislation. If it passes the Senate it will go to the house where it is expected to face tougher scrutiny.
Here’s a quick breakdown of what has the GOP riled up. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/03/republicans-violence-against-women-act
1- Tribal law: The current version of the Violence Against Women Act would allow tribal authorities to prosecute non-Indians for domestic violence cases on Indian reservations, but Republicans are opposing it because they don’t like the idea of Native American law applying to non-tribe members.
2- Immigration: The original Violence Against Women Act contained provisions that allow undocumented victims of domestic violence to apply for legal status, called a U visa, if they agree to cooperate with law enforcement.
3- LGBT rights: “I agree that shelters and other grant recipients should provide services equally to everyone,” said Grassley. “But advocates of this provision haven’t produced data that shelters have refused to provide services for these reasons.” He added that the nondiscrimination provisions were “a political statement that shouldn’t be made on a bill that is designed to address actual needs of victims.”
Here is another example of the real war against women- changing a reauthorization they know would have sailed through was designed to use women in order to hurt the other party:
Clearly a clean bill without the new provisions would have been reauthorized immediately, apparently one party is again using women to start a fight with the other party at women’s expense. Pass the bill as is without adding these three extra’s that are purposely holding up the bill so the Elephants in the room can be blamed for refusing to pass the bill. Clearly the Jackasses are responsible for this! Isn’t it time politicians stop the war on women as a tool to fight each other. Enough we are not a political tool – we are the majority and we deserve better.
Women we must stand up and demand that we will no longer tolerate being used on any level. Unite against this! Call your representatives and demand they reauthorize the original bill and deal with the other issues separately. VAWA must be reauthorized NOW!

Bergen County Let Me Down: Violence against Women Ignored and 4 Women a Day Die

BettyJean Downing

Today as I sat in court awaiting my case I was shocked to see no less than 7 DV cases go unheard because the women did not take the case forward. Whatever happened to the state proceeding without the woman because she may be afraid to testify? I saw officers agree to allow the state to drop the case.

Some abused women came in but said they did not want to proceed, a few called in saying they wanted to drop the charges and some simply did not appear. A parade of men came and went in and out without a care in the world, allegedly having violated the women they are intimate with.

What a horrible shame on two counts. First that the women let these men get away with violating them physically, but what about these punks that hit women and walk in here as if they are not the least bit ashamed of their behavior. I saw one man fondling and kissing her after the court and thanking her- she didn’t look happy about it at all. I saw another woman sitting there looking scared to death and she didn’t leave his side for a second.  I could not help but look at these gems and think – gee what a prize that lady just saved from his consequences so he can be free to hurt her again!

On the other hand, I was there to see my case through. Having procured a final protection order from the county seat a few months back after the Judge found him guilty of terroristic threats, I was surprised to learn another county division downgraded the threat to kill case to a simple harassment and sent it back to Lodi to be heard.  Funny no one spoke to me about that to be sure I wouldn’t drop the charges – or to be sure how much danger I was in. Did they think a protection order would keep me alive from a lunatic? In any case I was blindsided by that move but I proceeded to trial.

The defendant, my son, was found guilty but because the charge was downgraded he got what amounted to a slap on the wrist and a minimal fine compared to the seriousness of the crime he should have been found guilty of. The judge could only find him guilty of the charges before her and no more.

Downgrading a threat to kill to simple harassment is a serious injustice against me by the county. I did not get my day in court- and if anything happens to me – it is blood on their hands. I did not drop charges – I followed through – the county let me down. This is the reason 4-5 women a day are found dead in the USA- even when they don’t drop the charges and they are willing to show up – they do not get the justice and protection they deserve. Wake up America- a protection order is not a guarantee on saving a life!