When the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) comes up for re-authorization, likely early next year, debate in Congress could take place in an even more heated atmosphere than in the past (which is saying something).
People who want changes in VAWA routinely have been accused of being unconcerned about domestic violence against women. Nothing could be further from the truth. Domestic violence is real and it is a scourge.
When VAWA came up for re-authorization in 2013 (it must be re-authorized at five year intervals), Christine Villegas produced an excellent IWF policy focus that outlined some of the flaws in the act and areas of needed reform.
Christine pointed out that there is no evidence that a welcome decline in intimate partner violence had any relation to VAWA. Christine wrote in the summary:
VAWA has other significant flaws: It overlooks many of the proven causes of violence (such as substance abuse), and has been a source of waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer resources. In some cases there is even reason to believe that policies advanced in VAWA have backfired on victims.
Often under VAWA the concerns of victims are ignored and families that might be saved are broken up. Investigations are too often not neutral and thus ill-equipped to discover when allegations are false (which unfortunately can happen).
Christine also found that funding was distributed through state and local providers staffed by people with a strong ideological bias. If you see men parading on campus in high heels and lipstick, supposedly to gain an understanding of what it is like to be women and thus become less likely to become rapists, this activity is likely sponsored by a campus agency that receives VAWA money.
The Coalition to End Domestic Violence, a network of families and organizations, is already working towards getting sensible reforms when VAWA next comes up. CEDV states its purpose a statement (signed by IWF):
The goal of the Coalition to End Domestic Violence (CEDV) is to ensure that the VAWA is responsive to victims’ wishes , resources are actually making it to those who need it most, and given the current political
environment, that the legislative drafting process is open and transparent to stakeholders and the public.
The [congressional drafting] committee must ensure the values of family preservation, limited government, and due process, will no longer be under assault with this legislation. As members of Congress , we expect you to be listening
to community leaders, pastors, and concerned citizens, not just special interests, and allow our Coalition to have a seat at the table as full and frequent participants in the drafting process.
Senator Chuck Grassley and other senators from both parties in 2017 signed a letter to President Trump urging that VAWA be re-authorized. It very likely will when it comes up next year. But reforms are needed.
CEDV is preparing for re-authorization this week by meeting with Senators and staffers who will be engaged in the process.
CEDV is asking to be heard on making changes that would make the legislation fairer and more responsive to victims and families, and more judicious about the spending of taxpayer money.
In other words, common sense reform over ideology.