Amid a decades-long crusade against abortion rights and a more recent uproar over access to contraceptives, conservatives’ efforts to intrude upon women’s control over their own health care are well publicized. But the GOP of recent years has also demonstrated that women’s physical safety, economic security, and equal access to the workforce are increasingly low on the priority list. For the first time since its initial 1994 passage, the GOP has put up a fight against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act. Republicans on both the state and national level have sneered at the need for laws that address the fact that women still earn only about 75 percent of what men do for performing the same jobs. Conservatives have rejected legislation to mandate paid parental leave – something every other economically advanced country in the world requires. They are skeptical about allowing women to serve in military combat roles despite an on-the-ground reality that already puts women in dangerous combat situations. And they are dismissive of an Equal Rights Amendment that would afford the same weight to sex-based discrimination that the 14th Amendment currently gives race-based discrimination.
Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
The Violence Against Women Act, First Passed In 1994, Is A Multifaceted Effort To Address Violence Against Women. From the Urban Institute: “In 1994, Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) as Title IV of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act (P.L. 103-322). This event marked a turning point in federal recognition of the extent and seriousness of violence against women, and a commitment to address the problem from the federal vantage point. […] The resulting Violence Against Women Act for the first time recognizes the common barriers to legal protection faced by women victims of violent crimes. The four subtitles within the Act—the Safe Streets Act, Safe Homes for Women, Civil Rights for Women and Equal Justice for Women in the Courts, and Protections for Battered Immigrant Women and Children—target domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and protection against gender-motivated violence. The Act undertakes reform in legislation, rules of evidence, and the policies and procedures of law enforcement agencies and the courts. It creates new offenses and tougher penalties, mandates victim restitution, and begins system reforms that will, for example, shield victims during prosecution and increase consistency in sentencing. Recognizing that attitudinal change and knowledge are essential to practical implementation of legal reforms, VAWA authorizes support for prevention, education, and training and the development of systems for maintaining records on violent incidents and perpetrators and improving communication within the justice system.” [Urban.org, 3/1/96]
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