Contact: Teri Stoddard,
NY Times Anti-Violence Editorial Shortchanges Victims, SAVE Says
WASHINGTON, Feb. 13 — A recent New York Times editorial on the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act offers its readers a superficial and misinformed perspective on a bill currently being considered in the Senate (1). The controversy centers on the lack of effectiveness of many of its provisions, according to Stop Abusive and Violent Environments.
Sen. Leahy’s VAWA proposal, S. 1925, recently was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 10-8 party line vote.
Domestic violence is caused by a range of emotional and social factors such as substance abuse, depression, and marital instability, according to the Centers for Disease Control (2). It follows that the key to solving partner violence would consist of alcohol treatment, therapy, and partner counseling.
But Sen. Leahy’s VAWA bill ignores the role of these factors. Instead, VAWA funds the use of restraining orders, mandatory arrest, and prosecution of cases. Such law enforcement measures are ineffective, and in the case of mandatory arrest, place victims at greater homicide risk (3).
Angela Moore Parmley, PhD of the Department of Justice has acknowledged, “We have no evidence to date that VAWA has led to a decrease in the overall levels of violence against women.” (4) Concerned Women for America notes that VAWA’s elastic definitions of abuse “actually squander the resources for victims of actual violence by failing to properly prioritize and assess victims.” (5)
To address these shortcomings, Stop Abusive and Violent Environments has developed the Partner Violence Reduction Act, which amends and strengthens the current Violence Against Women Act (6).
“The New York Times editorial calls on Republican lawmakers to ‘explain to voters why they refuse to get behind the federal fight against domestic violence and sexual assaults.’ But victims of domestic violence are demanding that Times editorialists go beyond partisan posturing, and ask why so many VAWA programs aren’t meeting basic expectations of accountability and effectiveness,” according to SAVE spokesman Philip W. Cook.
Stop Abusive and Violent Environments is a victim-advocacy organization working for evidence-based solutions to partner abuse: www.saveservices.org
- Violence Against Women, Vol. 10, No. 12, 2004, p. 1424.