Mar 212012
 

PRESS RELEASE

Contact: Teri Stoddard
Email: tstoddard@saveservices.org

SAVE Chides Media for ‘Sound-Bite’ Coverage of Abuse Bill

Washington, DC/March 21, 2012 – Media accounts of the Violence Against Women Act bill, currently being debated in the U.S. Senate, are focusing largely on the political horse-race, charges victim-advocacy group Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE). This “sound-bite” coverage of the abuse issue glosses over the substantive problems and does a disservice to victims, SAVE alleges.

For example, a March 15 CNN story consisted of a point-for-point recitation of Senators’ talking points, providing little context for understanding the debate (1).

An article published in the Washington Post (2) failed to address any of the substantive concerns identified by Women Against VAWA Excess, including evidence that aggressive law-enforcement policies can escalate violence and place women at risk (3).

A recent letter by Concerned Women for America cited a statement by Angela Moore Parmley, Ph.D. that “We have no evidence to date that VAWA has led to a decrease in the overall levels of violence against women.” (4) But media accounts have largely ignored questions of program effectiveness.

Leading civil rights advocate Wendy Kaminer recently published an article in The Atlantic titled “What’s Wrong with the Violence Against Women Act?” (5) Kaminer criticizes VAWA for becoming a “prescription for false convictions.” But media coverage has skirted discussion of VAWA’s impact on the civil liberties of the accused.

In contrast, a March 14 article in the New York Times provided substantive and thoughtful coverage of the issues surrounding the VAWA reauthorization bill (6).

Media coverage has generally ignored the problem of violence against men, even though a recent Centers for Disease Control report found women were more likely to initiate partner violence than men.

“Domestic violence is too important an issue to concede the debate only to the politicians. In some parts of the country, victims have to wait three months to get into an abuse shelter,” reveals SAVE director Philip Cook. “Have elected officials considered how overly-broad definitions of abuse are contributing to the problem? We think not, and that’s why the media needs to do its homework in covering the issue.”

SAVE has developed a number of Special Reports that analyze and document a number of shortcomings with the present law: http://www.saveservices.org/reports

Stop Abusive and Violent Environments is a victim-advocacy organization working for evidence-based solutions to partner violence: www.saveservices.org.

  1. CNN. Accusations Fly in Senate over Violence Against Women Act. http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/15/politics/senate-vawa-accusations/index.html
  2. Female Senators Push to Reauthorize Violence Against Women Act. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/2chambers/post/female-senators-push-to-reauthorize-violence-against-women-act/2012/03/15/gIQAHuOYES_blog.html
  3. WAVE. Is the Violence Against Women Act Really Pro-Woman? http://womenagainstvawa.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Flyer-VAWA-Pro-Woman.pdf
  4. Concerned Women for America. Letter to Senators. Feb. 1, 2012. http://www.saveservices.org/wp-content/uploads/CWA-VAWALtr.2.1.2012.pdf
  5. Kaminer W. What’s Wrong with the Violence Against Women Act? The Atlantic. March 2012.
  6. Women Figure Anew in Senate’s Latest Battle. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/15/us/politics/violence-against-women-act-divides-senate.html
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Mar 212012
 

PRESS RELEASE

Contact: Teri Stoddard
Email: tstoddard@saveservices.org

Violence Against Women Act Poses Threat to Civil Rights, Group Charges

Washington, DC/March 19, 2012 – A recently issued report highlights a broad range of civil rights abuses that arise from policies endorsed by the federal Violence Against Women Act: http://www.saveservices.org/wp-content/uploads/SAVE-Assault-Civil-Rights.pdf. The report, from Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE), reveals the number of citizens whose rights have been impaired by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reaches about 30 million persons.

Last month, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) proposed a reauthorization of VAWA, which passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee to the Senate floor. But for the first time in VAWA’s history, the bill encountered strong opposition. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), aware of VAWA’s many flaws, offered an alternative bill, but that bill did not pass out of committee.

SAVE’s report documents 10 fundamental rights and protections that are being harmed by the Violence Against Women Act:

  1. Protection against libel and slander
  2. Freedom of speech
  3. Protection against governmental intrusion
  4. Right to due process of law
  5. Freedom to marry and the right to privacy in family matters
  6. Right to parent one’s own children
  7. Right to keep and bear arms
  8. Equal protection of the laws
  9. Right to be secure in one’s person
  10. Right to a fair trial

“Indiscriminate restraining orders, unconstitutional standards of evidence, and arrests without probable cause have been ravaging this country since VAWA’s passage in 1994,” SAVE spokesman Philip W. Cook notes. “The civil rights of African-Americans and other minorities have been especially hard-hit by strong-arm domestic violence policies.”

The abridgement of men’s rights has also been allowed to flourish under the VAWA, the report documents. Family law attorney Lisa Scott has warned, “Don’t call 911 unless you are bleeding and she still has a weapon in her hand.”

SAVE, an advocate for all victims of domestic violence, is working to reform federal domestic violence statutes so they both protect victims and affirm the civil rights of the accused.

Stop Abusive and Violent Environments is a victim-advocacy organization working for evidence-based solutions to partner violence: www.saveservices.org

Mar 212012
 

Dear Friends,

U.S. News & World Report has taken note of the controversy around the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act – VAWA – (s.1925), making it the focus of Debate Club. Debate Club brings in the best arguments and lets readers decide which is the most persuasive. They ask:  Should the Violence Against Women Act Be Reauthorized?

As of this writing, the entry in first place is: “NO: Violence Against Women Act Is a Totalitarian Violation of Democracyby Laura Wood. In second place is “NO: The Violence Against Women Act Should Outrage Decent People” by Janice Shaw Crouse. Following that are a few entries supporting the reauthorization.

You could read these two thoughtful articles explaining why Senator Leahy’s VAWA misses the mark, or you could read all of the entries, pro and against VAWA. We encourage that.

But we also understand how valuable your time is. So if you only have a moment and you want to make a difference, I’ll explain how you can do that.

Go to the debate here: http://www.usnews.com/debate-club/should-the-violence-against-women-act-be-reauthorized. Scroll down until you see these two ‘NO’ opinions:

VAWA debate

Click on the UP buttons next to Laura’s and Janice’s entries. That’s it!

If you have another moment, you could click the down buttons next to all of the ‘yes’ entries.

Thank you for your continued dedication, and for your patience. I believe we are starting to see the results of our slow and steady efforts. Isn’t it just wonderful?

Sincerely,

Teri

Teri Stoddard, Program Director
Stop Abusive and Violent Environments
www.saveservices.org

P.S. Help us grow our efforts…
www.saveservices.org/contribute,
and forward this E-lert to a friend!

Mar 202012
 

In Domestic Violence Bill, Battery Not Included

By Tony Perkins

March 20, 2012

How naive does the Left think women are? Very, if their latest campaign strategy is any indication. The real architects behind the “war on women” are moving on to the second phase of their battle. The objective? Painting Republicans as a party of sexist Neanderthals. Fortunately, most female voters are smarter than Senate Democrats, and they recognize the push for the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) for what it is: a cheap political trick. First off, let me say that as a former police officer, I understand firsthand the crisis of domestic violence. You don’t have to be in law enforcement to recognize how dangerous these situations are for the families involved. Every decent person wants to end abuse. In this case, though, Democrats aren’t trying to protect women–they’re trying to protect their jobs.

Instead of asking senators to reauthorize the original legislation, which cruised through Congress with bipartisan support, Sens. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) intentionally loaded the bill with provisions the GOP cannot support–like loopholes for immigration, millions more in spending, special homosexual protections, and more big government bureaucracy. Their goal was to make the legislation so objectionable that Republicans would be forced to oppose it and fuel the lie that the GOP is anti-woman. “If we had just a straight reauthorization, it would pass 100 percent,” Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said.

Even that would be generous for a law that most experts agree has been hugely ineffective at curbing abuse. According to Phyllis Schafly, the 18-year-old initiative has been more like a slush fund for the feminist lobby. Yet, “VAWA has somehow ducked accountability for the nearly billion dollars a year it doles out to radical feminist organizations,” she writes. In detail, she explains how the bill discriminates against men and violates basic legal protocol. Even if a woman has no proof of the abuse, “any man who is accused of domestic violence effectively loses a long list of constitutional rights accorded to ordinary criminals.”

Senate Republicans want to change that by offering some amendments that strike the Left’s gratuitous add-ons and fix the accounting problems. “[W]e need to consider the Violence Against Women Act,” Sen. Grassley told reporters, “…but there must be a fair process that includes consideration of our alternative that ensures more money goes to victims rather than bureaucrats and helps root out more of the well-documented fraud in the program.” Sen. Reid won’t allow it. His party is more interested in using the vote as a fundraising ploy.

If anything, women should be insulted by the Left’s campaign. It assumes that they can be suckered into blindly supporting any measure just because it’s cleverly worded. As we learned from the President’s “Affordable Care Act,” names can be deceiving. In this case, the Violence Against Women Act does real violence to the budget and individual freedom. So far, Republicans have refused to be intimidated. And they have no reason to be, because the real record of protecting women is on the conservatives’ side.

Senators Schumer and Reid have, for years, supported abortion policies that have committed violence against millions of unborn girls in the womb. They ignored the growing evidence of the harm abortion does to women. They stood by and did nothing when President Obama defunded the leading program on sex trafficking because its operators refused to endorse abortion. And where were these senators last week when the President took away Medicaid funding from 130,000 poor women in Texas over the state’s pro-life policy? Now suddenly, they want to use battered women as pawns in their reelection strategy. Excuse us if we don’t see what’s so “pro-women” about that.

Source: Family Research Council

Mar 202012
 

Wendy Kaminer Highlights VAWA’s Potential Impact on Campus Due Process in ‘The Atlantic’

By William Creeley

March 20, 2012

Wendy Kaminer, noted civil libertarian and member of FIRE’s Board of Advisors, has a useful piece on The Atlantic‘s website discussing the threat to campus due process presented by the latest draft of the Violence Against Women Act’s (VAWA’s) reauthorizaton bill.

Citing me, Kaminer writes:

As Senate Republicans resist renewing the 1994 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), raising questions about immigration fraud and Indian tribal courts, and Democrats indignantly declare their support of it, civil libertarians should take a hard look at some of the Act’s deceptively innocuous provisions. Section 304, which governs the treatment of sexual violence charges on college and university campuses, requires that cases involving allegations of violence or stalking provide for “prompt and equitable investigation and resolution.”

What’s worrisome about this language? Will Creeley of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) points out that “prompt and equitable” is a term of art under federal anti-discrimination law. It’s construed by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights to require a low standard of proof (“preponderance of the evidence”) in sexual misconduct cases.

I want to provide an explanation of why the “prompt and equitable” language is of concern here, and to discuss another due process concern FIRE has with the current text of the VAWA reauthorization bill.

But first, it’s crucial to note that FIRE takes no position on the vast majority of the VAWA reauthorization bill. As we emphasized last October when we issued a press release on the earlier VAWA draft’s explicit inclusion of the “preponderance of the evidence” standard of proof for college sexual assault hearings, we are concerned only with the section of the reauthorization bill that impacts due process on campus. VAWA is a huge piece of legislation, and virtually all of it is outside of our mission, save this small but important section.

So let’s look specifically at Section 304 of the latest version of the bill, the only portion of concern to FIRE. Section 304 would amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to require that all colleges and universities accepting federal funding maintain certain procedures for adjudicating allegations of sexual assault and other crimes. Here’s the exact text of the bill, with my emphases:

(iv) Procedures for institutional disciplinary action in cases of alleged domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, which shall include a clear statement that—

(I) such proceedings shall—

(aa) provide a prompt and equitable investigation and resolution;

[...]

(III) both the accuser and the accused shall be simultaneously informed, in writing, of-

[...]

(bb) the institution’s procedures for the accused and the victim to appeal the results of the institutional disciplinary proceeding;

 

FIRE’s concern is with the bolded language above.

First, the reference to the “prompt and equitable” standard. This is new language, replacing the “preponderance of the evidence” requirement seen in an earlier version of the bill last fall. Our press release from last October voiced alarm about codifying the preponderance of the evidence standard, and we were pleased when Senator Patrick Leahy’s office removed that provision from the bill.

Unfortunately, by replacing the explicit “preponderance of the evidence” requirement with a mandate that university procedures for sexual assault cases must “provide a prompt and equitable investigation and resolution,” the bill’s authors have reintroduced the problem.

To be clear, FIRE obviously does want campus disciplinary procedures to be prompt and equitable. Justice, no matter the venue, should always be prompt and equitable; indeed, it’s hard to imagine a just result that isn’t prompt and equitable.

However, this “prompt and equitable” standard is essentially a de facto incorporation of the preponderance standard. That’s because, as Kaminer notes, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) troublingly interpreted “prompt and equitable” to require the preponderance standard in its April 4, 2011, “Dear Colleague” letter.

Here’s how: On page 6 of the the April 4 letter, OCR mandates that colleges and universities must “[a]dopt and publish grievance procedures providing for prompt and equitable resolution of student and employee sex discrimination complaints” in order to comply with Title IX. A few pages later, on page 8, under heading (C) (“Grievance Procedures”), OCR states that it has “identified a number of elements in evaluating whether a school’s grievance procedures provide for prompt and equitable resolution of sexual harassment complaints,” and these elements include the “[a]dequate, reliable, and impartial investigation of complaints.” Finally, on page 9 under heading (B) (“Adequate, Reliable, and Impartial Investigation of Complaints”), OCR states that Title IX “requires schools to provide equitable grievance procedures,” and that “in order for a school’s grievance procedures to be consistent with Title IX standards, the school must use a preponderance of the evidence standard.”

So in OCR’s interpretation, an institution’s hearing procedures for allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault aren’t “prompt and equitable” unless they use our judiciary’s lowest evidentiary standard. That’s why FIRE is concerned that the VAWA bill’s requirement that institutional procedures be “prompt and equitable” is effectively a backdoor for codification of the preponderance of the evidence standard. (For a detailed discussion of FIRE’s concerns about OCR’s decision to mandate the preponderance of evidence standard, see our FAQ.)

Second, the subsection that provides “the institution’s procedures for the accused and the victim to appeal the results of the institutional disciplinary proceeding” assumes that an institution will maintain provisions for both the accuser and the victim to appeal. As Kaminer writes:

Moreover, if an accused student is not found guilty, even under this very low standard of proof, his or her accuser may be afforded a right to appeal (under section 304) exposing the accused to double jeopardy. Of course, campus disciplinary proceedings are not formal criminal trials governed by the 5th and 6th Amendments. But you’d have to regard the protection against double jeopardy as a mere constitutional technicality to believe that schools should dispense with it. Or you’d have to assume that, as a general rule, fairness requires convictions and provides multiple opportunities to obtain them.

FIRE has been very concerned about a similar “double jeopardy” provision in OCR’s April 4 letter, and this language in VAWA essentially codifies it.

Again, FIRE takes no position on any other section of VAWA. But like Kaminer, we’re concerned about the draft bill’s attempt to codify the due process threats presented by OCR’s mandates.

Source: The FIRE

Mar 202012
 

Violence Against Women Act Sanctions Rights Violations

By Mary Theroux

March 19, 2012

Democrats are hoping to make political hay by characterizing Republicans’ opposition to the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) as “anti-woman.” Republicans are right to be against the Act—unfortunately, however, not for the reasons they cite—as ought all who favor the rule of law and due process.

VAWA was originally passed during the Clinton administration, and has been reauthorized twice in the intervening years. Senate Democrats have taken advantage of the current reauthorization exercise to add some riders to which some Republicans object, most notably one that would liberalize the issuance of visas to allow illegal aliens to stay in the country in order to testify in such cases. Following on the recent Republican-led “anti-woman” objections to President Obama’s free contraception mandate, Democrats are delighted to have the excuse to oversimplify the current debate as opposition to the very Act itself (despite the fact that Democrats roundly rejected a Republican version to reauthorize the Act without the riders). One can almost hear the sound-bite: “Republicans want to keep women beaten and pregnant.”

The argument over riders aside, the Rule of Law by definition provides for equality under the law regardless of gender, race, creed, etc., and no one should favor an act so blatantly sexist. Violence is violence, and can be dealt with perfectly well under a system of law that rightly holds accountable those who commit such acts. Further, women are just as capable of assaulting men as vice versa—as they increasingly do.

But this Act goes far beyond simple discrimination to actively circumvent law as we understand it: accusers need provide no proof and are not held accountable for lying. The accused can and are summarily jailed, denied access to their children, and put under restraining orders on nothing more than the say-so of a woman who may very well be acting out of anger, a desire to retain marital property or sole custody of their children, or just plain whimsy.

The Act has redefined “domestic violence” to include dirty looks, name calling, or simply the “intuition” (imagination) of a woman that the accused is thinking ill thoughts. As you may recall, TV host David Letterman was put under a restraining order from a woman he did not know who claimed he was sending her secret messages in his monologues!

The Act funds “training” for judges—retraining, more accurately—to be taught that under the terms of VAWA, the usual standards of due process, rules of evidence, and access to a defense are to be set aside.

The accused is guilty until proven innocent, but the deck is heavily stacked against him to be able to do so. The Act pays the legal fees of the accuser, but not the accused. Perjury laws do not apply. The accused generally can not confront the accuser in court. In practice, the accused is simply railroaded: you’ve been accused, sign a confession and get out on a plea bargain under which you are barred from future contact with the accuser, your children, your home, your children’s school, etc., or stay in jail on felony charges you can’t disprove.

If you think I’m kidding, take a look at this chilling admission—on national television—by a woman who felt her husband’s “disrespecting” her justified a false police report that put him in jail for 10 months: video

Any advocate for justice should be appalled by the letter and implementation of this Act. Violence is serious, and every perpetrator needs to be held accountable. But doing so requires simply a justice system that deals blindly with actual crime, that upholds standards of proof, and provides restitution to victims and their families. Redefining terms and criminalizing behavior is nothing but a recipe for injustice on a grand and arbitrary scale.

Source: independent.org

Mar 202012
 

VAWA just a costly, destined-to-fail ploy

By Gordon Finley, Professor of psychology emeritus, Florida International University

March 19, 2012

Ever since the Violence Against Women Act of 2012 (VAWA) squeaked out of the SenateJudiciary Committee on a party-line vote, everyone from actors in Hollywood to the New York Times has been bullying members of the Senate to co-sponsor and soon vote for VAWA (“Reese Witherspoon warns kids of domestic violence,” Web, Feb. 29).

The bullying message is simple: If you don’t support VAWA, you are waging a war on women and every woman in America will vote against you in the coming election. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid appears to see VAWA as a political football to get Democrats over the goal line in November.

The reality, however, is quite different from the contentions the bullies make. First, although their voices have been there before, this year more center to center-right women’s groups are voicing their opposition to VAWA. Thus, the battle over VAWA is not really a war on women, but rather a war on a certain group of women – those who are wrong on this legislation.

Second, it must be asked, can debt-ridden America continue to afford to pour money down the rathole of failed gender-ideology programs? Not only has VAWA failed women, but it has placed women in harm’s way because it is based on a false ideological premise. Victims of domestic violence deserve better and are best served by family policies based on sound social science research.

Finally, VAWA is the left’s most powerful weapon to destroy the traditional family and redefine the family as single mothers and their children. VAWA destroys families by removing fathers from the home, denying fathers due process, denying fathers their constitutional rights and severing father-child relationships through false accusations.

Yes, there are matriarchal bullies. However, allowing bullies to waste scarce taxpayer dollars on failed programs is not going to reduce debt, help us turn the corner on the economy, serve victims or save father-child relationships.

Just say no to VAWA.

Source: Washington Times

Mar 202012
 

What’s Wrong with the Violence Against Women Act

Mar 19 2012

By Wendy Kaminer

A bill that was designed to rectify gender discrimination tips the balance too far, putting accused men at an unfair disadvantage.

As Senate Republicans resist renewing the 1994 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), raising questions about immigration fraud and Indian tribal courts, and Democrats indignantly declare their support of it, civil libertarians should take a hard look at some of the Act’s deceptively innocuous provisions. Section 304, which governs the treatment of sexual violence charges on college and university campuses, requires that cases involving allegations of violence or stalking provide for “prompt and equitable investigation and resolution.”

What’s worrisome about this language? Will Creeley of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) points out that “prompt and equitable” is a term of art under federal anti-discrimination law. It’s construed by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights to require a low standard of proof (“preponderance of the evidence”) in sexual misconduct cases.

This standard was explicitly mandated in an earlier version of the VAWA reauthorization bill, and it was adopted by the Department of Education in a controversial April 2011 directive. It is practically a presumption of guilt. As former DOE official Hans Bader has explained, it means that “if school thinks there is as little as a 50.001% chance that the accused is guilty, the accused must be disciplined.” And, as I noted here, it means that the students may be suspended — or expelled — and exposed to civil and criminal liability on the basis of an inquiry that affords them little due process.

Moreover, if an accused student is not found guilty, even under this very low standard of proof, his or her accuser may be afforded a right to appeal (under section 304) exposing the accused to double jeopardy. Of course, campus disciplinary proceedings are not formal criminal trials governed by the 5th and 6th Amendments. But you’d have to regard the protection against double jeopardy as a mere constitutional technicality to believe that schools should dispense with it. Or you’d have to assume that, as a general rule, fairness requires convictions and provides multiple opportunities to obtain them.

These low standards of proof, together with the appeals provisions, reflect the tendency of victim advocates, including Obama Administration officials, to err on the side of presuming guilt in sexual misconduct cases. Some have unabashed contempt for the rights of the accused: Boston attorney Wendy Murphy writes disdainfully of “lawyers for men accused of rape (who) injected themselves into college disciplinary proceedings demanding ‘due process’ and arguing that accused students have a constitutional liberty interest at stake.” The accused have no constitutional claim to due process, she writes approvingly, but “student victims of sexual assault” do, “because sexual assault is a form of gender discrimination.”

Perhaps. But if violence against women is a form of gender discrimination, so is the systematic denial of due process to “men accused of rape.” It is also a prescription for false convictions.

Consider the case of University of North Dakota student Caleb Warner, suspended for three years and banned from campus after being convicted of sexual assault under the “preponderance of evidence” standard favored by the administration and arguably required under VAWA. Reviewing the same evidence, FIRE reports, North Dakota law enforcement concluded that the accuser was lying and charged her with with filing a false report (issuing a warrant for her arrest), but the university exonerated Warner only after a spate of bad publicity, including this Wall Street Journal op ed.

Should a few troubling provisions in VAWA governing campus disciplinary proceedings doom the bill in its entirety? Maybe not (though the provisions should surely be amended). VAWA is a lengthy, complex bill providing federal resources for victims of violence and domestic abuse and for anti-violence initiatives.

I can and have argued for and against provisions of VAWA. (I was for the definition of sexual violence as a federal civil rights violation before I was against it.) In U.S. v Morrison, the Supreme Court struck down VAWA’s extension of federal civil rights remedies to victims of gender-motivated violence. It ruled that neither the 14th Amendment nor the Commerce Clause empowered Congress to assume federal jurisdiction over sexual violence claims — providing legal remedies to sexual violence should be the province of the states, and the federal government shouldn’t be able to exercise un-enumerated and virtually unlimited power. At the risk of betraying my sex, I had to agree. The defense in a war on women should not be a war on liberty.

Source: The Atlantic

Mar 202012
 

Uncomfortable Truths About The Violence Against Women Act

by Dean Esmay

March 15, 2012

For years those of us who are concerned with the issue of Domestic Violence have noted disturbing flaws in America’s so-called “Violence Against Women Act.” Groups as diverse the Ms. Foundation for Women (founded by Gloria Steinem and other noted feminists in the 1970s), the Independent Women’s Forum (formed by “equity feminist” Christina Hoff Sommers and other non-leftist feminists), and various men’s rights, family rights, domestic violence, and anti-child abuse advocates have been criticizing the act for years. The law’s fundamental problems include sexist double-standards, ignoring (and even encouraging disparagement of) violence and abuse toward men, harming children by legally persecuting or even imprisoning non-abusive parents and leaving children with abusive parents, violates fundamental due process rights, and even sometimes violates the rights of the very women the act is supposed to protect.

Rather than addressing these urgently-needed reforms, which many anti-Domestic Violence advocates have been raising with increasing urgency over the last decade and a half, it appears that Democrats have decided that one of this year’s election themes is to be a “War On Women by Republicans.” Thus, as the New York Times reports, Senate Democrats are using this legislation as a club against their opponents, urging its expansion without talking about reforms. Republicans, foolishly, are behaving in a cowardly posture rather than forthrightly stating the well-known problems–the sexist language, the harm it does to women, to men, to children, and threats to civil rights–and are instead weasel-wording and whining about it. They, and everyone else, should simply state the truth: there is is much that is good and laudable in this legislation’s intent, but it needs substantial revision before being expanded.

There seems to be something deeply ingrained in the American psyche (and maybe it’s not just America) to see women as victims who need defending no matter what: video

But the truth of the matter is that women can be very violent and abusive indeed. That first video is rather tame compared to this one: video

An ever-growing body of research is showing that women are every bit as likely to be abusers as they are to be abused, and that in about half of domestic abuse situations, abuse is mutual. The entire portrait of men-as-perpetrators, women-as-victims, is outdated, sexist, and destructive. Men and women appear to attack each other physically at about exactly the same rate, and while men are more likely to cause serious injury when they physically attack women, women often even the odds with weapons or by attacking when men are most vulnerable–and worse, the entire system, and even the culture, is set up to discourage men from even reporting this when it happens to them. Indeed, it is often the case that even when a man is a victim of violence by a woman, he is the one more likely to be arrested, when the abuse may have been mutual or may have been originally perpetrated by the woman. Strong social taboos still hold in the culture when it comes to admitting this, but the evidence is large and growing.

This is not just a women’s issue, and more people need to speak up about that fact.

Researchers, advocates, and groups have been increasingly vocal about the problem with our entire mindset when it comes to the issue of domestic abuse, but right now Congress appears stuck in the 1970s. The act should almost certainly be renamed; its current title is utterly sexist and demeaning. Domestic violence is an equal-opportunity offender, and is not a simple tale of brutal men versus victim women and children. Addressing it requires sober, serious reflection and looking at how best to address it. This may be hard to achieve in times of high political polarization, but the question becomes: if not now, when? If not us, who?

Resources:

Women Against VAWA Excess (Much incredible reading here by women.)
Is the Violence Against Women Act Really Pro-Woman? (PDF)
Stop Abusive and Violent Environments. (Much useful information and many resources.)
Have Domestic Violence Programs Delivered on Their Promises to Women? (PDF)
Three Sides to Every Story – Fix VAWA Campaign.
Domestic Abuse Hotline for Men and Women (A helpline that serves everybody equally).
Male Victims of Domestic Violence: When HE is the Victim (By Judith Brown in Regal Magazine)
RADAR: Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting. (More useful information and resources.)
Widespread Civil Rights Violations Under The Violence Against Women Act (PDF)
Disabusing the Definition of Domestic Abuse, a 2003 scholarly paper by Linda Kelly.

Source: deanesmay.com

Mar 162012
 

Marines Share Views on ‘War on Sexual Assault’

Kyle Fischer
March 16, 2012
Active Duty Marines offer a different opinion on sexual assault in the military to Business Insider writer Eloise Lee. In the article, the Marines explain how they are afraid of female Marines pulling the “rape card,” that mandatory sexual assault briefings teach service members that if alcohol is involved, consensual sex is impossible, and how they feel accused men and women are subject to a “guilty until proven innocent” prejudice in the Marine Corps.

http://articles.businessinsider.com/2012-03-12/news/31146664_1_military-cases-sexual-assault-military-justice-system#comments

Just wait until the Marine Corps follows the Army’s lead. Back in 2009, the United States Army institute their plan to combat sexual assault in the military by creating 15 Special Victim Prosecutor (“SVP”) positions, which has since been increased to 33 SVP’s. The SVP’s are senior Captain and Major Army Judge Advocates whose sole mission is to prosecute sexual offenses. They also hired 5 highly qualified experts to observe and advise the SVP’s during a court-martial. Meanwhile, Trial Defense Service has appointed zero defense counsel who are equivalent to SVP’s to defend Soldiers.

http://www.army.mil/article/16130/army-striving-to–decrease-sexual-assault-increase-reporting/

One would believe that such a move would increase conviction rates by decreasing the number of questionable cases. Read how an attorney at The Judge Advocate General’s office spun the low conviction rate of courts-martial two years after implementing the program:

“I don’t think it’s an accurate way to measure the success of our program,” said Janet Mansfield, an attorney with the Army’s Office of the Judge Advocate General. Asked how the Army was determining whether it’s working, she responded that it was “hard to define.”

“We want to see that due process exists,” she said. “We want to see that victims are happy with the experience of the court-martial, if not the outcome.”

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/11/28/131523/militarys-newly-aggressive-rape.html#storylink=cpy

Notice how Ms. Mansfield connects the Constitutional right to due process to the alleged victims, and not the Servicemember accused.

Source: http://www.cotwa.info/2012/03/marines-share-views-on-war-on-sexual.html