Reasons to Oppose the So-Called Violence Against Women Act

On Monday, the Senate is expected to vote on reauthorizing and expanding the so-called Violence against Women Act (VAWA). This unconstitutional law was originally signed by President Clinton in 1994 and has shown no signs of actually reducing violence against women. The real purpose of the VAWA is to shell out taxpayer dollars to liberal organizations that help elect Democrats—which is why the reauthorization bill passed out of committee on a straight party-line vote.

Original sponsors of the bill assumingly called it the “Violence against Women Act” in order to pressure their colleagues into voting for it. Supporters of the VAWA attempt to politically hurt those opposed to it by painting them as anti-woman or somehow in favor of violence against women. Clearly, domestic violence— whether it is against a woman or man—is tragic and no one in their right mind supports it.

This is the kind of dishonest tactics used by Washington insiders to pass terrible bills. They give pieces of legislation deceptive titles so that they can chastise any reasonable opponents. A case in point being the so-called No Child Left Behind Act, supporters accused all opponents of wanting to leave children behind in the classroom even though the massive bill was fundamentally flawed. 

Like the misnamed No Child Left Behind Act, there are many reasons to oppose the VAWA. First, domestic violence was already prosecuted in every state prior to the passing of the VAWA. Why do we need a federal law for something that was already illegal in all 50 states? Isn’t that redundant? 

The VAWA made domestic violence a federal crime but it is not an issue that should be handled by the federal government because it is not specifically mentioned in the Constitution. Like other wrongdoings such as murder and theft, it is properly handled on the state and local level, in accordance with the 10th amendment. 

The VAWA cost a lot of dough—$660 million, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates— for a duplicative law that has shown no real evidence of reducing domestic violence.

What exactly counts as domestic violence? The newest version of the VAWA, S.47, contains very vague and broad definitions of domestic violence. A man that raises his voice at his partner, calls her an offensive name, stalks her, causes her any emotional distress, or simply just annoys her can potentially be prosecuted under the VAWA. Calling your spouse a mean name is not advised or polite, but it isn’t the same thing as violence towards her.

Violence against anyone is bad —that shouldn’t even need to be said. Unfortunately, the VAWA reinforces ugly stereotypes about men and women. Supporters of the law portray men as natural predators that are never on the other side of domestic violence. However, in a 2010 national survey conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, it was found that 40% of the victims of domestic violence are men and half of all partner violence is mutual. 

Supporters of the VAWA portray women as helpless victims—this is the kind of attitude that is setting women back. Thank goodness that there are many strong and independent women, including the female members of the Independent Women’s Forum, who believe that there are real reasons to oppose the VAWA.