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May 13, 2013

READERS' FORUM: May 13, 2013

DES MOINES, Iowa —

Women’s group criticizes Bucshon

The House of Representatives did a tremendous disservice to women when it passed the Violence Against Women Act on Feb. 28. Indiana Rep. Larry Bucshon, R-8th Dist., wrongly voted for this nice-sounding legislation that obscures real violence in order to promote the feminist agenda.

First enacted in 1994 under the Clinton Administration, VAWA has morphed into a series of rigid and ineffective law enforcement programs that continue to spend approximately $455 million each year.  Angela Moore Parmley, Ph.D., from the Department of Justice, wrote in Violence Against Women, Vol. 10, No. 12, 2004, p. 1424, “We have no evidence to date that VAWA has led to a decrease in the overall levels of violence against women.”

There is no denying the very real problem of violence against women and children.  However, this legislation continues to broadly define “domestic violence” against women. These broad definitions actually squander the resources for victims of actual violence by failing to properly prioritize and assess victims. Victims who can show physical evidence of abuse should be our primary focus.

Furthermore, VAWA fails to ensure that the money being spent is not wasted on ineffective programs. In random audits by the Inspector General repeated irregularities and misconduct were found including unauthorized and unallowable expenses in 21 of 22 grants.

Finally, when the House voted on VAWA, it included an amendment by Senator Leahy that hurts sex-trafficking victims, seeks to legalize prostitution for minors and fails to protect the consciences of organizations, such as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, that oppose abortion but want to protect trafficking victims.

The Leahy Amendment, which was included in the bill that Rep. Kevin Cramer supported, cut funding for the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons by 64 percent, from $5.5 million a year to $2 million a year, which will dramatically reduce staffing. The TIP office leads the United States’ global engagement in the fight against human trafficking. It is an injustice to victims to strip them of the assistance they so desperately need. In addition to drastically reducing the TIP office, the amendment also eliminated shelters for adult victims of sex trafficking in the United States.

The amendment also included a provision that would change the Model Law on sex trafficking to promote the decriminalization of prostitution of minors for states, which is extremely dangerous for trafficking victims. Decriminalization provides a perfect opportunity for pimps, traffickers and gangs to exploit minors in the sex industry by telling the minors that it is not illegal and that they will not get arrested. The bottom line is that this erroneous vote by Rep. Bucshon will hurt women who are trafficked.

If Rep. Bucshon truly wanted to protect women in his district, he would have voted to direct the money to Indiana, which is in a much better position to address domestic violence and has greater ability to prosecute and penalize criminal behavior.

— Penny Nance

CEO and President, Concerned Women for America

Washington, D.C.

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