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Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

How the Shutdown Is Hurting Low-Income Families

We’re on Day 4 of the first federal government shutdown in 17 years. Here in D.C., the subway and the streets are noticeably emptier without thousands of federal workers on the job. And while a few might be enjoying their time off to take advantage of the shutdown-themed happy hours around town, most are worried about the financial consequences of a prolonged shutdown for themselves and their families (especially since many have already faced pay freezes and furloughs thanks to the sequester and other budget cuts).

But it’s not just the 800,000 furloughed federal workers who are affected by the shutdown. Some federal contractors won’t get paid, either – including workers making close to minimum wage who are unlikely to have much in the way of savings to fall back on. And low-income families who depend on federally funded programs are suffering, too. For example:

HERVotes Blog Carnival – Turning “Ifs” into “Whens”: College Students Like Me Need Reauthorization of a Full VAWA

This blog was originally published on June 29, 2012. We are re-publishing it today in honor of the HERVotes blog carnival on the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Author Dana Bolger is a former NWLC intern, feminist, and student activist. You can follow her on Twitter at @danabolger.

I dream of a day when men on college campuses no longer rape with impunity.

If that day comes, my safety and well-being will be valued more than my laptop’s. Students found responsible for sexual assault will receive more than slaps on the wrist.

If that day comes, the rape of an intoxicated woman, or a girlfriend, or an ex-girlfriend, or a man, will finally be considered “real” rape. There will be no such thing as “gray rape” or “acquaintance rape” or “date rape.” It will all be called by its proper name, the only name: Rape.

If that day comes, victims will no longer be blamed for the crime another person perpetrated against them. Faculty and students will be taught to recognize the signs of dating violence and domestic abuse. The officials who adjudicate disciplinary decisions will receive training appropriate to understand the complex psychology behind the cycle of abuse, rather than being told – as one disciplinary committee member was at my college – that “it’s pretty much common sense anyway.”

The reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has the potential to begin a journey on which each “if” will turn into a “when.”

But right now, the VAWA bill is languishing in Congress, the surprising target of an effort to turn the issue of violence against women – a problem that everyone should agree merits action – into a partisan battle. On Tuesday the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women rallied on Capitol Hill in a renewed effort to push the reauthorization bill through Congress before the end of the summer. Read more »

Puking on Cue: Why we need to pass the Violence Against Women Act ASAP

Rape commentary has been blowing up the Twitterverse, and as per the usual, not for reasons we should be too thrilled about. When I logged in yesterday, I was disturbed to find that “#LiberalTips2AvoidRape” was a trending hashtag, with gems such as these:


Read more »

5 Reasons Why We’re Part of the One Billion Rising in Protest Against Violence Against Women

As individuals willing to give voice to troubling problems and struggle towards difficult solutions, we rise on behalf of women.

As partners, advocates, family and friends, we rise in collaboration with survivors.

As a global community, we rise through women’s progress.

Rise for VAWA!These are the simple but fundamental truths V-day encourages us to reflect on. While it is often painful and uncomfortable to talk about the culture of violence and oppression that leads to 1 in 3 women being assaulted, beaten, or raped in her lifetime, the alternative is unthinkable. Silence is not an answer. Ignorance, as we’ve seen through the intense backlash against misguided statements related to assault, is not bliss. And the problem will not simply go away if we leave it alone.

However tattered, ugly, or shocking the truth may be, only by addressing facts rather than falling back on myths can we craft solutions (be they legislative, cultural or community-based) that truly improve people’s lives.

Myth 1: Violence against women is rare.

Truth: Violence toward women is extremely common. 1 in 3 women, approximately, 1 billion women, will experience violence in her lifetime. A perpetrator is more likely to be an intimate partner or family member than a stranger. In the U.S. a woman is beaten or assaulted every 9 seconds. Read more »

What a Speech! Thank President Obama

What a night, and what a speech!

On Tuesday, President Obama laid out an important economic agenda for women and families in his State of the Union address — expanding early education opportunities, advancing fair tax and budget policies, increasing the federal minimum wage, and passing both the Paycheck Fairness Act and the Violence Against Women Act.

This is a full and impressive agenda for President Obama's second term. But we're up for the challenge and we hope you are, too!

Please join us in thanking President Obama for his commitment to women and their families. Your voice will send a strong signal to the White House that it's on the right track.

What's our take on all of these key issues?

  • Expanding Early Education Opportunities — President Obama's early childhood initiative would expand access to critical early learning opportunities for millions of preschool age and young children across the country. This would help many low- and middle-income women and their families who are struggling to afford the early learning opportunities that put their children on a path to success.
  • Advancing Fair Tax and Budget Policies — President Obama called on Congress to pass a budget that replaces reckless cuts with smart savings and wise investments in our future. This is especially important to women, because millions of hard-working women are struggling to lift their families out of poverty and cuts in funding for public services have cost women hundreds of thousands of jobs. We also need a tax system that fairly raises the revenue required to make these wise investments and stave off deep cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and other programs women and their families count on.

Turning “Ifs” into “Whens”: College Students Like Me Need Reauthorization of a Full VAWA

I dream of a day when men on college campuses no longer rape with impunity.

If that day comes, my safety and well-being will be valued more than my laptop’s. Students found responsible for sexual assault will receive more than slaps on the wrist.

If that day comes, the rape of an intoxicated woman, or a girlfriend, or an ex-girlfriend, or a man, will finally be considered “real” rape. There will be no such thing as “gray rape” or “acquaintance rape” or “date rape.” It will all be called by its proper name, the only name: Rape.

If that day comes, victims will no longer be blamed for the crime another person perpetrated against them. Faculty and students will be taught to recognize the signs of dating violence and domestic abuse. The officials who adjudicate disciplinary decisions will receive training appropriate to understand the complex psychology behind the cycle of abuse, rather than being told — as one disciplinary committee member was at my college — that “it’s pretty much common sense anyway.”

The reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has the potential to begin a journey on which each “if” will turn into a “when.”

But right now, the VAWA bill is languishing in Congress, the surprising target of an effort to turn the issue of violence against women — a problem that everyone should agree merits action — into a partisan battle. On Tuesday the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women rallied on Capitol Hill in a renewed effort to push the reauthorization bill through Congress before the end of the summer. Read more »

Biden and Beckham Agree: 1 is 2 Many

Because nothing gives me the warm and fuzzies quite like David Beckham speaking out against dating violence…

Last week the White House released a compelling new dating violence PSA entitled “1 is 2 Many,” which features President Obama, Vice President Biden, and a host of celebrity athletes encouraging men to step up in the fight to end gender-based violence.

Vice President Biden, who spearheaded the campaign, has long been a tireless advocate for women and girls. In 1990, then-Senator Biden introduced the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which forever changed the way our country responds to sexual assault and domestic violence. While it seems obvious to most of us that issues of gender-based violence should always transcend political gamesmanship, this year Congress has yet to reauthorize this crucial legislation.

Read more »

Supporting State Efforts to End Violence Against Women: Unconstitutional?

Last week, the Senate voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act by a bipartisan vote, an important step forward for the many thousands of women who depend on its protections. But before we forget the Senate debate, we should note not only the surprising resistance the bill met there, but also the specific basis Mike Lee (R-Utah) offered for opposing it. Senator Lee, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee and whose views on the Constitution are thus particularly influential, implied that VAWA was unconstitutional.

Senator Lee objected to VAWA’s grants to state and local governments. VAWA provides funding for programs operated by courts, law enforcement, state agencies, local governments, and others, in order to address the needs of victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. In general, recipients must apply to receive these funds. Senator Lee asserted that somehow providing this funding to the state and local governments seeking it compromises states’ rights under the Constitution, because violent crime is regulated primarily by the states. “As a matter of constitutional policy,” Senator Lee stated, “Congress should not seek to impose rules and standards as conditions for federal funding in areas where the federal government lacks constitutional authority to regulate directly.” He also protested that “the strings that Congress attaches to federal funding in the VAWA reauthorization restrict each state’s ability to govern itself.”

Senator Lee’s theory of the Constitution seems to forbid Congress from imposing any sort of standards on the money it gives to state and local governments, even when state and local governments have specifically sought the money and voluntarily assumed the conditions that come with it. This is a radical theory that would make it impossible for Congress to fund the VAWA programs that have been so important for improving the criminal justice response to violent crime against women and for creating coordinated community responses to address the needs of those who experience domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and sexual assault. Read more »

Really? Playing Games with the Violence Against Women Act

Remember when some issues in Congress were exempt from political football — even in an election year? That used to be the case with the Violence Against Women Act. Until now.

This week the Senate is taking up the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the first U.S. federal law that acknowledged domestic violence and sexual assault as crimes. Though it's a bipartisan bill with 61 cosponsors, we're facing an uphill battle to get it passed in the current Senate.

Why? Because this bill strengthens protections for those experiencing violence at the hands of a same-sex partner, as well as for immigrants and Native American women. Given the particular needs of these communities, the bill's focus on these women makes a lot of sense. But some Senators would rather leave these women behind. It's time to jam the phones on Capitol Hill! Please call your Senators to make sure they do the right thing and reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. Here is exactly what you have to do to take action:

  1. Call (202) 224-3121 and ask the operator to connect you to your Senator's office. Since you have two Senators, remember to call twice! To look up your Senator's name and direct line, please check this website.
  2. When you get someone on the phone, please read this sample script: My name is _____ and I'm a constituent. I'm calling to urge Senator ______ to support the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, S. 1925. I urge Senator _____ to keep all of the critical provisions, including those protections for Native American women, immigrants, and LGBT victims, in the bill.

NWLC’s Weekly Roundup: March 12 – 16

This week in our weekly roundup: a new documentary on bullying to air this weekend on Cartoon Network, Doonesbury on abortion in Texas, and the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

First up, I want to make sure you know that there’s a new documentary on bullying that will air on the Cartoon Network this weekend. Unlike Bully, the documentary that’s set to be released on March 30 (and is currently wrangling with the MPAA to have its rating dropped from R to PG-13), Cartoon Network’s Stop Bullying: Speak Up will air on television – making it very accessible to a wide audience.

The documentary features real stories from kids who’ve been bullied for a variety of reasons, so hopefully it will resonate with kids in school. It also features stories from some well-known people who advocate for ending bullying, including Cartoon Network’s CJ Manigo, Ali Sepasyar and Jackson Rogow, former NBA player Chris Webber, and pro BMX biker Matt Wilhelm. Bullying prevention expert Rosalind Wiseman will also answer questions before, during, and after the documentary airs. Read more »