Violence Against Women Act flounders, sinks in 112th Congress…

VAWA…and Sen. Patty Murray intends to reintroduce it. Here’s a great analysis of what happened to the legislation — passed in 1994, with the leadership of then-Sen. Joe Biden — and reauthorized without problems until Oct. 2011, “after conservative lawmakers balked at the addition of expanded protections for undocumented immigrant, Native American, and LGBT victims of sexual assault.” As author Tara Culp-Ressler, an editorial assistant at ThinkProgress, noted on Atlantic.com:

As the legislation hung in the balance this past year, Rep. Gwen Moore went to the House floor to recount the story of her own sexual assault to explain why this country needs VAWA. Moore said that as she watched Republican men begin to stall the reauthorization of the bill, “it brought up some terrible memories for me” of both the

sexual abuse in her childhood and being raped as an adult. The man who date-raped her took her underwear to display as a prize to his friends, who had all bet him that she couldn’t be “had.” “This is what American women are facing,” Moore explained.

But the sticking point for House Republicans—mostly, as Moore hinted at, Republican men—was diversity. “There are matters put on that bill that almost seem to invite opposition,” Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions told the New York Times when the proposed amendments to expand protections to diverse communities began to stir up conservative opposition. Sessions didn’t specify whether he was most opposed to allowing undocumented immigrants to claim temporary visas after suffering sexual abuse, including same-sex couples in domestic violence programming, or expanding tribal authority to prosecute domestic violence against Native American women. Or perhaps he found each provision equally distasteful because he believes immigrating to this country without a proper visa, being born gay or lesbian, and living on a Native American reservation represent crimes that supersede the crime of rape, somehow invalidate those individuals’ right to be part of the national movement to address the epidemic levels of intimate partner violence.

Culp-Ressler’s post is definitely worth reading.

Also worth noting: As the CDC’s ACE Study and neurobiological research on the effects of toxic stress on children’s developing brains have demonstrated, anything that prevents violence against women also prevents child trauma and abuse.

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