VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) is being held up in the two different houses of the USA’s government. Please Note: This law does not just cover women, but men who are abused are covered as well under this act.
I hesitated to write about this, because I was confused as to what they were fighting about in congress. The media is so biased that you can tell which side of the aisle they are on just by their writing style, and its hard to make out what the true issues are. You can always figure out what their issue is, but you can’t get a straight answer as to what the true issues are. Politics shouldn’t be played with people’s lifes in this way.
I will first mention some of the changes some members of congress wish to see happen to the VAWA, and end with a “Christian” organization that opposes it altogether.
Purposed Changes to VAWA Law
1) The inclusion of gay, lesbian and transgender victims of abuse.
Our local shelter doesn’t ask, and does not discriminate against people on these grounds. Abuse hurts everyone, and I understand the church’s stand on these parties (for lack of a better term). I don’t agree that due to their sexual orientation (again lack of term) that they would NOT be protected against domestic violence.
That part of their life should have nothing to do with it. Protection from domestic violence to me is a moral issue on the grounds that no one should be hurt in this way. It shouldn’t matter if we agree or disagree on how they view relationships, or how others feel about how they live their life.
Domestic Abuse should not be tolerated against anyone, and being gay, lesbian or transgender should be a mute point. You don’t have to agree with their way of life in order to know its wrong regardless.
Domestic Violence is against the law for anyone. To me it should be a no brainer. Discrimination of this sort to me is just sinful.
2) Expansion of U-visas
First off I will explain what the U-Visa is, and how it is used by quoting the below:
VAWA was the first legislation to acknowledge the unique challenges that groups like immigrant women face as victims of domestic abuse and crime.Lets say you have a mail order bride that came here, and was abused for example! Abusers as we know will exploit victims any way they can. Its part of their pattern of behavior that makes them abusive to begin with. As you can imagine they can be told to shut up and take it or I will have you thrown out of the country. It’s a real form of power and control over the victim.
VAWA exposed the power the abuser maintained over an undocumented partner, often exploiting the victims’ immigration status, leaving the victim afraid to report the abuse to law enforcement and seek help. This fear, along with a lack of information or misinformation, language, and cultural differences, has a multiplying effect that a perpetrator can easily exploit. Worse, many immigrant women avoid reporting their abuse to law enforcement due to fears of being deported. VAWA gave immigrant women victims the safety to know that they could report abuse without fear of retribution.
VAWA not only helped raise awareness about the plight of immigrant women, but also provided an avenue to legal status through the U-visa. U-visas can be granted to victims of a crime that can prove they have suffered substantially, and who cooperate with law enforcement. Granting a U-visa immediately changes the outlook of life for immigrant women who have been victims of abuse. Principally, it dissolves the fear of deportation and grants the right to legally work, empowering the victim through economic independence, commonly another chain that ties a victim to the abuser.
The United States does use these U-Visas now, but what is being asked is the expansion in numbers allowed of U-Visas. The cap has been set at 10,000 U-Visas, and within the last two years that this was allowed it reached the cap number. Surprisely, they also have T-Visas for sex tracking victims which has never reached their cap number.
I have my beliefs about illegal immigration, but when abuse is concerned people need to be protected. The victims would have to cooperate with law enforcement as noted, and in return abusers would face punishment. It seems this part of the change more deals with those that are here with green cards, visas, etc. I would assume they will also help those not here legally.
One of the proposed revisions would increase the cap. Some government officials are concerned over raising the cap, because of the immigration concerns. We must deal with illegal immigration, but allowing victims and their children to stay in hiding (and to continued to be abused) over concerns over increased immigration is dumb. I’m sure some would say it would be a good way of getting into the country legally, but if they don’t have case to cooperate with law enforcement over? Their plan would fail.
I had a woman in my domestic violence group that was from Turkey. Her brother was here in the USA, and she and her parents escaped her husband by coming here. They do not deal with domestic violence in Turkey, and he had beaten her for the last time while she was pregnant with twins. She lost one of the babies during this altercation.
When she escaped he terrorized her family, and they had no where else to turn. She, her baby, and her parents escaped to the USA to live with her brother. The husband is not allowed in the USA due to his criminal record.
The Turkish government was going back and forth about whether or not SHE was the criminal in escaping his reign of terror, because she took the twin that was born alive to the United States. Domestic Violence is not illegal in Turkey (at least then – I don’t know about now), and the government didn’t have a problem admitting he was dangerous. Talk about a rock and hard place! Last I heard she was still in litigation about being allowed to stay here in the country, or risk being deported knowing (everyone admitted) it would be a death sentence for her and possibly her child.
People need to realize this doesn’t just cover the immigration issues you read about all the time in the media.
3) Adding crucial protections for Native Americans
In parts of the USA Native Americans have what we call, Tribal Governments. From what I have read it only covers people within the tribe, and so if a non-Native American commits domestic violence against a Native American the tribal government has no power to prosecute the offender. This would give the tribal government the authority to hold the offender accountable.
Native governments are sovereign entities based on political standing, not based on race. The bill would help make all violent offenders, regardless of race, accountable for crimes against Native women in tribal courts, enabling Native communities to better protect the safety of its citizens in their territory.To me it would seem common sense, although there are some that feel it would be unconstitutional. The article I linked to above shows how this would not be the case. In areas of the United States these tribal areas are far from local government office, or federal office as well.
This is no different than saying a New York voter is subject to the criminal jurisdiction of the State of Arizona if he visits there and commits a crime against an Arizonan. Arizona criminal jurisdiction over his conduct in Arizona, by an Arizona government in whose democratic processes he is not eligible to participate by virtue of his New York domicile, does not violate his constitutional rights to due process or equal protection.
Christians that don’t wish to deal with Domestic Violence
Sadly, we have groups within the Christian Community that are against VAWA. The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission part of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and Concerned Women of America among others sent a rather ‘deceitful’ letter to congress. Part of this is below.
First enacted in 1994 under the Clinton Administration and reauthorized in 2000 and 2005, VAWA has morphed into a series of rigid and ineffective law enforcement programs that continue to spend approximately $400 million each year. Angela Moore Parmley, Ph.D., from the Department of Justice, wrote in Violence Against Women, Vol. 10, No. 12, 2004, p. 1424, “We have no evidence to date that VAWA has led to a decrease in the overall levels of violence against women.”
There is no denying the very real problem of violence against women and children. However, the programs promoted in VAWA are harmful for families. VAWA often encourages the demise of the family as a means to eliminate violence.
Further, this legislation continues to use overly broad definitions of domestic violence. These broad definitions actually squander the resources for victims of actual violence by failing to properly prioritize and assess victims. Victims who can show physical evidence of abuse should be our primary focus.
I searched on the internet for Angela Moore Parmley quote from above. If you look really close you will notice that the quote is from 2004. It is now 2012, and in our time that is a very long time ago. I found a government paper referenced in question:
Violence Against Women Research Post VAWA: Where Have We Been, Where Are We Going?
Here is another interesting point from that paper, and it seems was left out. Her comment makes sense once you look at it in context.
Although programs to prevent various types of violence against women have been developed, few rigorous evaluations have been conducted to determine their short-term and long-term effects. Further, there is no evidence to date of the effects of criminal justice interventions to counter violence against women, nor of the impact of the Federal Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA). Although the VAWA has the potential to reduce violence against women and point to strategies that may prove effective in controlling other forms of violence, this potential cannot be realized without a new research infrastructure based in collaboration to develop and test theoretically driven interventions and policies. This will require a significantly greater investment in evaluative research and data collection.Could be why she stated that there is no documentation about the levels increasing or decreasing at that point. In 2004 the act was still new, but today they do have ‘evidence to date that VAWA has led to a decrease in the overall levels of violence against women’ (and men as well – check link below). Taking one sentence out of the entire paper that she wrote is deceptive at best. They didn’t make their point at all, but basically were deceptive themselves. The author was speaking about the Act from 1994, which is even longer than 8 years ago. Do people that sign these letters even fact check?
I found a more recent report after new research that was needed was complete. Bureau of Justice Statistics report on how the numbers have actually done down. This report is more current, but I haven’t found a more recent one as of yet. It’s a heck of a lot more recent than the quote that was used in the letter.
If you look at the signatures on that letter that was sent to congress? Phyllis Schlafly was one of the signers. Remember her? Lets look at one of her ‘supportive’ quotes again shall we? My link has her ‘entire’ conversation, because NO I didn’t just quote one sentence to make my point.
I have never seen a man hit a women except on Television, and they all act like they don't believe that is so! If they have they seen it they are going around with the wrong crowd! FIND some new friends! I mean with all the men I know they are totally incapable of hitting women. Its just not in them!Talk about a stupid comment. I also found an extended letter about their agenda online as well. I noticed they took out their ‘crazy talk’ that wouldn’t be taken to seriously if this letter that was actually sent to congress ‘as is’. Beliefs like these don’t help men, women or children that are victims of abuse. They also show themselves and their agenda for what it is.
Among the other signees was one Timothy Johnson, the same Timothy Johnson who was convicted of felony domestic violence in 1996.
According to court records, Johnson was arrested on Christmas Day 1995 in Cleveland, Ohio, and was later indicted by a grand jury for two felony counts, one of felonious assault and the other of kidnapping. According to the arrest report, when the police arrived, they found Felix-Johnson bleeding from the face. Timothy Johnson told the officers, according to their report, "I admit it. I hit her, that's the only way I can get her attention." Felix-Johnson told the officers he restrained her on the couch, holding down her neck. One officer reports Ofelia Felix-Johnson saying that Johnson also punched her breasts, saying that she had no heart, and hit her over the back and buttocks with a plastic shoe rack, breaking the rack. The police report in the court file states that Johnson broke his wife's nose and toes, causing her to be hospitalized.
Doesn’t seem this ‘friend’ is incapable of hitting women.
Timothy Johnson was also arrested a second time for domestic violence.
AlterNet obtained documentation of a second incident when police were called to intervene in a domestic conflict at the home of Timothy Johnson and Ofelia Felix-Johnson. Land records show the couple purchased a house in Perrysburg, Ohio, in March 1997. In 1998, Johnson was arrested by the Perrysburg Police, again on domestic violence charges. According to the police report, Johnson provided a "very similar" account of the incident to that his wife Ofelia and 14-year-old son gave police. Both wife and son reported that Johnson had Ofelia Felix-Johnson in a wrist lock, and when the son attempted to stop Johnson from hurting his mother, Johnson put the son in a head lock such that he was "unable to breathe and was choking up food," according to the police report. After the son broke free, the police report continues, Johnson "put his right hand around [the boy's] throat and pushed [him] against the wall with his back to the wall and choked [the boy] for about 5 seconds."Just because the wife didn’t appear for the hearing doesn’t mean, ‘there was nothing there’ morally. He can state that he wasn’t found guilty, but he also knows it happened. One doesn’t erase the reality of what happened. Johnson also went as far as to tell others that his x-wife ‘endorses’ him for politic office, and yet that is something she herself denies.
According to court records, Ofelia Felix-Johnson did not appear for the hearing, and the charges were dismissed. Johnson told AlterNet that "the incident that took place wasn't domestic violence. My ex-wife and I had a disagreement. And as always, well the person says, well I know you have this past on you so I'll just call the police. And as you said, there was no conviction and there was no trial. You know why? Because there was nothing there."
To show his true martyr status:
Johnson questioned why illegal immigrants could be granted amnesty when he had served his sentence for breaking the law, but was nonetheless still held to account for his actions. "The reality of it is that we will go out of our way to talk about the protection of these individuals because of their human rights," Johnson said, "but my brothers and sisters who have made a mistake, born in this country but made a mistake but had to serve under the judicial system of this country, walk around for the rest of their life in this Judeo-Christian society with a scarlet letter A, every day."His compassion and common sense just overwhelm me! How about you? Sigh.
His ‘scarlet letter’ doesn’t seem to effect Phyllis Schlafly or the SBC that are opposed to the Violence Against Women’s Act (VAWA) to accept his support, and of course ‘his’ signature.
They blame the broken record of feminist agenda (blah blah blah), and yet offer no solutions.
If you read their material closely, it always mentions just ‘women’ in their examples of pressing charges against men. This act DOES cover men as well, and if you check your local newspapers? They normally have a police blotter talking about arrests and convictions of criminals. To say that women don’t get charged and convicted would be another deceptive attempt to further their cause. Yet, if you read enough of their material? THAT is what they hint at constantly. They should be happy that those ‘dreaded feminist’s’ are getting arrested as well under this act!
In Conclusion, I hope these changes do get passed. The Violence Against Women Act needs to go further with the changes that were submitted. I think all the Politian's know this as well, but of course they have to play their little games first.
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