VAWA: Fundamentally Flawed
By Charlotte Hays
April 18, 2012
As the Senate prepares to take up reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, we are hoping that someone will send the senators a link to this analysis from the Insider Online. It outlines concerns about this “fundamentally flawed” bill.
The authors are Christina Villegas, a visiting fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum, and David Muhlhausen, an analyst at the Heritage Foundation. They note:
Instead of working to fix the bill’s substantive problems, proponents of S.1925 are attempting to characterize opponents of the bill as anti-woman and pro-domestic violence—an absurd notion that stifles debate on the legislation’s many problems.
Muhlhausen and Villegas point out that under the U.S. Constitution, police power is left to the states. VAWA was an enormous expansion of the role of the federal government into what is more appropriately handled at a lower level. Although much remains to be done, the states have adopted programs (shelters, treatment and awareness programs, etc.) that combat violence.
Moreover, the authors go on to point out that a particular philosophy has dominated the way VAWA has been administered. Indeed, violence against women is seen as an issue of “social control,” according to this view. VAWA therefore, rather than restricting itself to helping women who are abused, seeks to redistribute power and resources to women. The report explains:
This philosophy of group victimhood undermines equal protection and the rule of law and has been detrimental to the protection of victims generally.
The paper also addresses the issue of mission creep (did you know that prisoners are now included in VAWA?) without adequate evaluations to determine if these changes are a good idea.
There are other problems: the Office of Violence Against Women will be expanded, giving it new duties that, unfortunately, duplicate services already available; and perhaps most significant, no large-scale studies have been done to determine if the grants made under VAWA are effective.
Shouldn’t the senators talk about these issues before casting their votes?