Although women comprise 51% of the electorate, they’ve been a strangely silent majority. That silence may have lulled some of our misogynistic politicians to ignore the cardinal rule of elective politics. Vote against 51% of the electorate and it’s very likely you won’t remain in office. Republican Senators, at least with respect to reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), got the message. With their Democratic counterparts, they overwhelmingly passed the reauthorization sending it to the House. What the House Republicans will do is anyone’s guess.
VAWA was comprehensive legislation enacted in 1994 to counteract the growing violence against women in our country. It provided for, among other things, the strengthening of penalties for sex offenders; training of police, prosecutors and judges; establishing of the National Domestic Violence Hotline; providing legal relief for battered immigrant women; and protecting Native American women who very much-needed protecting since one Native American woman in three had been a victim of sexual violence, and she had a ten times greater chance of being murdered. (http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/editorial/bs-ed-violence-women-20130213,0,3781667.story). See, http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/vawa factsheet.pdf
By everyone’s standards, VAWA was a huge success. Intimate partner violence declined by 67%; homicides of females decreased by 35%; reporting of domestic violence significantly increased; and all states strengthened their domestic violence laws. http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/vawa factsheet.pdf. Notwithstanding the impressive outcomes, in 2011 VAWA expired and Congress, as it has with other much-needed legislation, wouldn’t act in a bipartisan way to reauthorize VAWA. Conservative Republicans identified three provisions each concerning minority women that they couldn’t support.
- Non-Native Americans accused of abusing Native American women could be tried in tribal courts;
- Immigrant victims of abuse could obtain permanent residency; and
- Gay, lesbian and transgender victims of abuse would be protected.
- http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/editorial/bs-ed-violence-women-20130213,0,3781667.story. See, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2013/02/12/violence-against-women-act-senate-vote/1913739/
Women’s health and safety are at stake. Consequently, VAWA is not the legislation for Republican Congressmen to vote their prejudices. Rather, VAWA presents the perfect opportunity for them to show they care about every woman, especially since being tolerant and compassionate to battered women shouldn’t be all that difficult. As Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said “a victim is a victim is a victim – and violence is violence.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/senate-votes-to-reauthorize-violence-against-women-act/2013/02/12/ddb2487e-752c-11e2-95e4-6148e45d7adb_story.html.
It’s a no-brainer. Ending violence against women should be universally supported at least in the eyes of that 51%. Republican Congressmen take note. Voting your intolerance could shorten your career immeasurably.