On Monday, February 4, 2013, Mike Lee (R-Utah) and 7 of his Republican colleagues in the United States Senate voted to deny women the protections that had been afforded them by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) for nearly two decades.
Senator Lee’s Republican colleagues who joined him in deciding that it is okay for women to be subjected to violence in America, typically at the hands of men, were all men and included, Marco Rubio from Florida, James Risch from Idaho, Pat Roberts from Kansas, Rand Paul from Kentucky, Mike Johanns from Nebraska, Tim Scott from South Carolina, and Ted Cruz, the freshman Tea Partier, from Texas.
Why would these supposedly honorable men refuse to protect women from being assaulted, battered, beaten, and murdered?
What about the Violence Against Women Act 2012 Reauthorization could possibly offend the moral sensibilities of Republican Senator Mike Lee and his 7 colleagues?
Let’s take a look at violence against women in America today.
The Public Policy Office of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) reports the human costs of domestic violence are as follows: 1 in every 4 women will be a victim of domestic violence in her lifetime; an estimated 1.3 million women in America are assaulted by a so-called ‘intimate partner’ each year; 85% of all domestic violence victims are women; 7.8 million women in America have been raped by an intimate partner at some point in their lives; and approximately 16,800 women are murdered each year by that selfsame intimate partner.
NCADV also reports that domestic violence against women takes approximately $37 billion out of the American economy each year to pay for victim medical care costs, lost productivity, and the time, energy, and direct expenses to investigate, arrest, prosecute, and jail thousands upon thousands of perpetrators.
So what has VAWA done to protect women in America?
According to a Violence Against Women Act factsheet published by the White House, VAWA, written by then-Senator Joe Biden and enacted by Congress in 1994:
- Held rapists accountable for their crimes by strengthening federal penalties for repeat offenders
- Created a federal ‘rape shield law’ to prevent rapists from attempting to use victims’ sexual history as a defense during their criminal trials
- Freed victims of domestic violence from having to pay for rape examinations or for court orders of protection
- Required all protection orders be enforced in all state, territorial, and tribal jurisdictions in the United States
- Increased rates of prosecution, conviction, and sentencing of perpetrators of domestic violence
- Required police to respond to calls from victims of domestic violence
- Educated over 500,000 law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and judges each year on the hard realities of domestic and sexual violence
- Created the National Domestic Violence Hotline, which has answered more than 3 million calls and receives more than 22,000 calls each month, mostly from first-time callers.
I know what you’re thinking, “Nice rhetoric, Davy, but has VAWA made a real difference in the lives of American women?”
Fair question . . . and here’s the answer:
Between 1994 and 2010, VAWA caused:
- The rate of intimate partner violence against women to decline by 67%
- The rate of intimate partner murders of women to decrease by 35%
- Reports of domestic and sexual violence against women to rise to all-time highs
- Arrests of perpetrators of violence against women to increase dramatically
- Every state in the union to make stalking a crime; to authorize warrantless arrests of suspects in misdemeanor domestic violence cases; and to enact criminal penalties for violators of protection orders
So, why would Utah Senator Mike Lee and his 7 Republican colleagues refuse to take action to protect women from domestic violence, save thousands of lives, and save billions of dollars in lost productivity, and medical and legal costs?
That’s a good question that only Senator Lee and his 7 friends can answer.
Go ahead . . . ask him at: 316 Hart Senate Office Building - Washington, D.C. 20510 - Phone: 202-224-5444 - Fax: 202-228-1168 or on Twitter: @SenMikeLee
I'd love to hear his answer . . . wouldn't you?
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