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