House GOP VAWA Must Be Defeated: Statement of Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal

The Feminist Majority, as well as the massive coalition supporting the real VAWA, is determined to defeat the outrageous and dangerous GOP Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization which passed the House yesterday. For the first time in history, the House GOP passed a VAWA reauthorization that rolls back rather than expands protections for victims of domestic and workplace violence. The House VAWA reveals the depth of the GOP war on women’s rights and subverts VAWA itself.

The House GOP buckled under the pressure of the Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, the Eagle Forum, SaVE and other right wing groups and passed a badly flawed VAWA that some 200 law enforcement agencies as well as more than 300 women’s rights, human rights, civil rights, religious organizations and victim advocacy groups vigorously opposed.

Republicans made some last minute changes to try and make their bill palatable. But even with the changes, the House GOP version of the VAWA reauthorization is a dangerous bill. Thanks to the action of thousands of Feminist Majority supporters as well as thousands of other activists the Republican leadership, feeling the pressure, took out of the bill the heinous provision that immigration officials had to notify the abuser of the victim’s complaint. However, the House GOP VAWA reauthorization still rolls back current protections for immigrant women who are suffering from domestic abuse and workplace violence.

The House GOP version does not extend protections to Native American women when they are abused by non-native spouses on tribal lands. It does not give Native American authorities the power to prosecute these non-Native abusers. More than 50 percent of Native women have non-Native spouses.

Protections for LGBT victims that were included in the real VAWA reauthorization passed by the Senate were also left out of the House GOP VAWA reauthorization. The House GOP VAWA reauthorization simply does not recognize that violence is violence and all victims deserve protection.

The narrow margin in the passage of the House bill when coupled with the two-thirds margin in the Senate reveals that the work of the massive coalition for the real VAWA has had an impact. The coalition is redoubling its efforts to ensure that we do not go backwards and to make sure a real VAWA reauthorization is enacted.