This past week, Congress reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act, which President Obama quickly signed into law. According to a White House factsheet (Factsheet: The Violence Against Women Act), this act has helped reduce violence against women significantly.
The act was originally enacted in 1994. Since then, the rate of intimate partner violence has decreased 67%, the rate of intimate partner homicides of females decreased 35%, and the rate of intimate partner homicides of males decreased 46%.
This latest incarnation (http://blogs.justice.gov/ovw/archives/2310) also expands protection for Native and Eskimo Americans, and homosexual groups. It also improves the criminal justice system's response to reports of domestic violence.
While we certainly applaud the success, what makes it necessary for our society and culture to enact specific laws to protect these groups? Shouldn't simple laws against assault and battery suffice?
Perhaps. Unfortunately, in trying these types of cases, the legal system has previously allowed defenses that further humiliated the victims by allowing, for example, to call into question the victim's sexual behaviour and history. This is now no longer allowed.
There is, however, a further discussion that may need to take place. What makes these specific groups targets?
It is probably an instinctive reaction that these groups tend to be physically and socially weaker. Women are physically weaker than men. Consider as well that women are culturally weaker than men and have not had the same rights. Women have only been allowed to vote for less than 100 years (http://www.history.com/topics/the-fight-for-womens-suffrage). Society is just now allowing homosexuals to legally marry.
We may well consider that the necessity of this law is to combat a form of bullying. Merriam-Webster defines bullying as being "habitually cruel to others who are weaker". This law, then, is sort of attempting to legislate a cultural and societal form of anti-bullying.
One could easily explain reasons including family and cultural history. Nevertheless, is the mark if how evolved a society is evidenced by how it treats those who are weaker?
Perhaps, too, we can make the case that one who is secure in themselves, who feel good about who they are would not inclined to act out their insecurities on others.
Perhaps the solution to any type if oppression directed at any vulnerable group is to empower the predators towards self-actualization. Help them become proud of who they individually as a person. Then, perhaps, there will be no need for these types of laws.