January 3 2013
The Truth about the Violence Against Women Act
I hate that I even have to say this, but obviously violence of any kind, against any innocent person - male or female - is wrong. It's always been wrong, and always will be wrong. It's absolutely wrong. All 50 states have protections for the victims of violence and will prosecute violent criminals.
Since 1994, the federal government has created for itself a role in policing domestic violence... probably because some legislator realized the political points he could score by proposing such an un-opposable law. Violence against women? Of course it's wrong. Who could oppose protections for the fairer (and let's face it - physically weaker) sex?
Every once in a while this federal law comes up for reauthorization, and Congress has to vote to keep it around, amend it, and/or continue allocating funds for its implementation and its grants. This year both the House and Senate approved reauthorizations of the law, but they were different. The House did NOT pass the Senate's version of the reauthorization, and today the GOP-controlled House is taking heat from the media for its failure to approve of the Senate bill.
With a name like "Violence Against Women Act," I'm sure the law is politically difficult to oppose. But, many laws - no matter how controversial they are - have nice-sounding names. You might have disagreed with the welfare reforms of the 1990's. That law is called the "Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act." You might hate ObamaCare: It's actually the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act." It's hard to disagree with "work opportunity" and "patient protection," but what's in a name?
The Violence Against Women Act that the Senate passed might have been renamed the "Duplicative, Costly Federal Overexpansion Act" if we wanted to be more accurate. In fact, ironically, opposition to this law has nothing to do with violence against women.
This hasn't stopped the mainstream media from using this GOP "failure" to villify the House for its apparent hatred toward women. To some - like MSNBC or the Huffington Post - failure to pass this reauthorization is tantamount to condoning domestic violence. To them, apparently, facts don't matter. Like the fact that the House did indeed pass a different version of the reauthorization, a version that would have stuck more closely to the law's mission and avoided duplicative and wasteful spending.
For more information about the Senate bill's serious flaws, I suggest reading this Heritage Backgrounder, co-authored by IWF's own Christina Villegas.
At IWF, we care tremendously about protections for victims of domestic violence, no matter if they are female, male, gay, straight, immigrants, citizens, red, yellow, black, or white. If you or someone you know is being abused, you should report it to the National Domestic Abuse Hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE or speak with a trusted friend, family member, pastor, or law enforcement officer who can help you file a report and stay as safe as possible.
We also recognize that false accusations of domestic violence are a serious problem - both for the falsely accused and for real victims of abuse. There are resources available for the falsely accused as well.
The demogoguery of such a serious issue is repulsive. Clearly, both Democrats and Republicans abhor domestic abuse. But the details of each piece of legislation are important to consider. The outcomes of a law are more important than its intentions, and the name of a bill does not tell the full story.