Everyone loves the party game/icebreaker “two truths and a lie.”
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), or S. 3623, was recently introduced by a group of senators. VAWA must be reauthorized every five years and this latest version has a new twist — the word “women” has been struck out and replaced with “individuals.”
Can you identify which of the following is NOT true about the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)?
A. VAWA was first enacted with bipartisan support in 1994 to prevent violent crime, particularly violence against women.
B. Since VAWA’s enactment, there have been numerous reports of waste, fraud, and abuse.
C. VAWA recognizes women are overwhelmingly the majority of victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
Let’s take these statements one at a time:
A. TRUTH! VAWA was passed and signed into federal law in 1994 with bipartisan support to help victims of violence, including domestic and sexual violence, and to prevent future abuse. Since then, VAWA has been reauthorized by Congress three times (2000, 2005 and 2013).
B. TRUTH! Reports from the Department of Justice Inspector General have shown the misuse and abuse of funds within VAWA.
For example, a Department of Justice audit reviewed 22 randomly selected VAWA grants from 1998 to 2010. Of the 22 grantees, 21 were found to have violated the terms of their grants.
In 2017, the Department of Justice also found several instances of fraud and embezzlement.
Ultimately, this means that VAWA’s funds are not always spent on assisting victims of violence, leaving some without access to the services they need.
C. LIE! Sadly, while both men and women experience domestic abuse, sexual abuse, and stalking, women are more likely to be victims of these horrific crimes. Unfortunately, this latest version of VAWA removes the word “women” from the text and replaces it with “individuals.” In a bid to be “inclusive,” this version of VAWA allows men who identify as women to be placed in women’s prisons and shelters, despite clear issues in places where that is already the policy. Is the Violence Against Women Act looking out for women?
Congress enacted VAWA 27 years ago with laudable intentions: To prevent and respond to the crimes of violence against women. VAWA shouldn’t be a political issue; we all want to eliminate violence against women. If policymakers are serious about helping women, they should reauthorize a better Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and stop putting progressive political concerns ahead of women’s security and safety.