On Wednesday evening the U.S. House of Representatives passed a new Violence Against Women Act, aided by vote of support from South Carolina’s own Rep. Tim Scott. This House version of VAWA (H.R. 4970) doesn’t live up to its title, however, says Bobbie Rose, Scott’s Democratic opponent in this year’s election.
Instead, she finds, this variation to the 18-year-old law actually removes needed improvements to domestic violence protection that were included in the Senate version of the bill.
“Rather than reauthorize a bipartisan act, the House of Representatives chose to make a very partisan statement,” Rose says.
“They decided that their female constituents would be best served if a group of GOP sheep determined which woman, which mother, which wife and which daughter should receive protection and aid from our government. They, in their infinite wisdom, determined that immigrant, Native American and LGBT women should be afforded no protections at all!”
The Senate version of VAWA (S. 1925) removed obstacles that immigrants encounter when reporting domestic violence, and extended its coverage to the LGBT community. It also addressed high levels of abuse against Native American and Native Alaskan women.
With a “yea” vote from Rep. Scott, the restrictive House bill, which removed such terms from the Senate version, passed with a 222-205 vote.
“Unsurprisingly, our own Rep. Tim Scott voted with his guru, Eric Cantor, and the majority of the House to pass a bill that decides WHICH women in America will be afforded protection from a violent abuser,” Rose protests.
So limiting is H.R. 4970, even the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women opposes it, calling the bill “dangerous for victims(.)”
The National Task Force was an adamant supporter of the Senate version of VAWA, however.
“The Republican Party uses every media opportunity to reject the charge that they have declared a ‘War on Women,’” says Rose.
“This is increasingly difficult to believe when they pass a salvo such as H.R. 4970.”
Scott’s vote indicates a lack of representation to his constituents, Rose finds. “As a woman who makes her home in South Carolina, this bill is the latest in an unacceptable trend in what certainly feels like a ‘war.’ A 13-year average shows that 36,000 South Carolina women are victims of domestic violence every year, and 33 of those women are murdered by their abusers.”
South Carolina has also ranked first of all U.S. states in incidents of homicide committed against women by men, and one out of every eight women in the state suffers physical abuse in relationships at least once.
Since first passage of VAWA in 1994, the number of reports of domestic violence increased 51 percent, indicating this program removed obstacles and hesitancies that victims normally encountered. The number of women killed by intimate partners decreased by 34 percent, as well.
The Senate version of VAMA not only extended its range of protection to potential victims, but also streamlined the operation of the program, even reducing its costs by 20 percent.
H.R. 4970 will now return to the Senate for consideration.
“I ask that everyone who loves and respects a woman, a wife or a mother to join me in protesting this abuse of the authority we granted our congressmen,” Rose says.
“Together, we can do better, and will do better than this!”
Disagree with the restrictions imposed by H.R. 4970? Express your disagreement through this petition.