Disaster relief funds for Hurricane Sandy victims aren’t the only legislation items House Republicans ignored as the session comes to a close. On Wednesday, the Violence Against Women Act, which passed the Senate earlier in 2012, was also a victim of Republican irresponsibility, as House leadership flatly refused to bring the bill to the floor for an up-or-down vote, letting it die instead.
The Huffington Post reports that Democratic Senator, Patty Murray of Washington, plans to “absolutely” reintroduce the bill when the new session begins later this year.
“I think they are still so kowtowing to the extreme on the right that they’re not even listening to the moderates, and particularly the women, in their caucus who are saying they support this,” Murray said. “They have the opportunity to take up this bill and show women and men that they understand that women’s rights are important.”
Indeed, one has to ask why Republicans would allow this law to die. CNN reported in November that Election Day 2012 saw Republicans lose the women vote to Democrats by an 11 point margin. 55 percent of women helped propel President Obama back to the White House, while only 44 percent voted for Mitt Romney. The GOP even lost Senate and House seats. Republicans lost big that day and women were a major reason why. You would think that House Republicans would immediately push through this legislation to show that they aren’t anti-women, but apparently they would rather let the law die, exposing millions of women to domestic violence that could have been prevented.
Prior to this, VAWA had been re-authorized several times, even by Republican-controlled congresses. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, the many facets of VAWA since it’s original passage in 1994 include:
•Creating new system responses – VAWA programs, funding and law reforms have changed federal, tribal, state and local responses to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking by:
•Securing buy-in from formerly unengaged systems, like law enforcement, courts, and social services
•Creating a federal leadership role that has encouraged tribes, states and local government to improve responses to victims and perpetrators
•Establishing new federal crimes of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking to fill in jurisdictional gaps in prosecuting these crimes
•Defining the crimes of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking, as well as identifying promising practices to respond to these crimes
•Focusing on the needs of underserved communities, such as immigrant and Native American women
•Community-coordinated responses that brought together, for the first time, the criminal justice system, the social services system, and private nonprofit organizations responding to domestic violence and sexual assault
•Recognition and support for the efforts of domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centers, and other community organizations nationwide working everyday to end this violence
•Federal prosecution of interstate domestic violence and sexual assault crimes
•Federal guarantees of interstate enforcement of protection orders
•Identifying the additional related crimes of dating violence and stalking
•The creation of a much-needed legal assistance program for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault
•Promoting supervised visitation programs for families experiencing violence
•Developing prevention strategies to stop violence before it starts
•Protecting individuals from unfair eviction due to their status as victims of domestic violence or stalking
•Creating the first federal funding stream to support rape crisis centers
•Developing culturally-and linguistically-specific services for communities
•Enhancing programs and services for victims with disabilities
•Broadening VAWA service provisions to include children and teenagers
These are just many of the things our society has lost because Republicans refused to stand up against domestic violence. There is a reason why we need the Violence Against Women Act to remain federal law in this country. Domestic violence is a serious crime that happens to women and children every day. Here are some of the many domestic violence statistics provided by Domesticviolencestatistics.org.
•Every 9 seconds in the U.S. a woman is assaulted or beaten.
•Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. Most often, the abuser is a member of her own family.
•Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined.
•Studies suggest that up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually.
•Nearly 1 in 5 teenage girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a breakup.
•Every day in the US, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends.
•Ninety-two percent of women surveyed listed reducing domestic violence and sexual assault as their top concern.
•Domestic violence victims lose nearly 8 million days of paid work per year in the US alone—the equivalent of 32,000 full-time jobs.
•The costs of intimate partner violence in the U.S. alone exceed $5.8 billion per year: $4.1 billion are for direct medical and health care services, while productivity losses account for nearly $1.8 billion.
•Men who as children witnessed their parents’ domestic violence were twice as likely to abuse their own wives than sons of nonviolent parents.
VAWA was created and enacted to prevent domestic violence and protect women and children who are the victims of it. The reauthorization of VAWA would have done even more to prevent domestic violence by including the LGBT community, immigrants, and Native Americans. All but two Republican women in the House supported renewing the law. The two who opposed did so because they believed the bill didn’t go far enough. So it wasn’t Republican women who let this law die. It was Republican men.
Even after taking heavy losses in the 2012 Election, including a clear rejection by women voters, Republicans still refused to protect women and children from domestic violence. This alone should be enough reason to vote Republicans out of office in 2014. Because logic dictates that if you oppose domestic violence laws, you must in some way support domestic violence. That is what male House Republicans have screamed to the world by letting VAWA die.