Monthly Archives: April 2012

Violence Against Women Act – protecting all women


What’s making me want to holler this week is the partisan battle over the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). This isn’t actually “new” news. The VAWA reauthorization has been in the news since February, when all of the eight republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee failed to vote in favor of reauthorizing the bill.

The Violence Against Women Act, first voted into law in 1994 and reauthorized in 2000 and again in 2005 provides federal funding to state and local authorities for investigation and prosecution of crimes against women, including domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

To be clear: Republican objectors claim they are not “anti-women”. They just object to some of the ways this latest reauthorization expands the bill. While the original bill works to provide funding for women’s shelters, counseling, rape crisis centers, legal services, and training for law enforcement, the current reauthorization bill expands the scope of who is protected by the VAWA to include undocumented immigrants, LGBTQ victims, and Native American women on reservations. Soooo, they’re not anti-all women – just anti-some women. Right.

Republican senators argue that this latest reauthorization is just an attempt by Democrats to play politics — ginning up more fervor over an “imagined Republican war against women” — by adding controversial expansions. And GOP senators are working on their own version of the bill, which removes the proposed expansions.

Yet, expansions to the VAWA are not radical. Each reauthorization has worked to extend the protections of the act. The first reauthorization, in 2000, expanded the law to better serve older and disabled victims. The 2005 reauthorization provided for programs for teen victims of  domestic and intimate abuse. Both passed unanimously.

According to the Department of Justice, since the passage of VAWA IN 1994, number of women killed by intimate partners has decreased by 35 percent, and nonfatal violent acts against women and men by intimate partners decreased by more than 50 percent. Still, across the country, women and men continue to live with the daily threat of domestic and intimate violence. One regional survey conducted by University of Oklahoma researchers showed that nearly three out of five Native American women had been assaulted by their spouses or intimate partners.  According to a nationwide survey funded by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), one third of all American Indian women will be raped during their lifetimes.  And an NIJ-funded analysis of death certificates found that, on some reservations, Native women are murdered at a rate more than ten times the national average.

On the ground, this reauthorization would allow for a more effective and coordinated response to domestic abuse on reservations. It would prohibit shelters from turning away women who have been beaten by female partners and better address the needs of male victims of domestic and sexual violence. The reauthorization would moderately increase the number of temporary visas for immigrant women who are victims of domestic abuse.

This should not be about partisan politics, and it’s a shame that Republican senators are not willing to stand up for women of color and lgbtq women.


Emancipation Day


Procrastinators – wondering why your taxes are not due until tomorrow?

Since 2005, April 16 has been recognized as an official public holiday in Washington, DC. The April 16 Emancipation Day holiday commemorates President Abraham Lincoln’s 1862 signing of the Compensatory Emancipation Act.  Weeks before the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, the Compensatory Emancipation Act abolished slavery in Washington, DC by compensating slave owners  for the release of their slaves — up to $300 per slave. The bill also set aside money to pay newly freed slave up to $100 to leave the US to colonize elsewhere (e.g. Liberia or Haiti).

If you’re in the northeast, you might also be observing Patriot’s Day. The third Monday in April is a Massachusetts and Maine state holiday commemorating  the Battles of Concord and Lexington, which marked the beginning of the Revolutionary War.

Of course, if you want to live every day like it’s a holiday: here’s a list of April holidays, courtesy of the kids at ThinkQuest.

April 1 : One Cent Day
April 2 : National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day
April 3 : Tweed Day and Don’t Go To Work Unless It’s Fun Day
April 4 : Tell-A-Lie Day
April 5 : Go For Broke Day
April 6 : Sorry Charlie Day
April 7 : No Housework Day
April 8 : All Is Ours Day
April 9 : Winston Churchill Day and Name Yourself Day
April 10 : Golfers Day
April 11 : Eight-Track Tape Day
April 12 : Look Up At The Sky Day
April 13 : Blame Somebody Else Day
April 14 : National Pecan Day
April 15 : Rubber Eraser Day
April 16 : National Stress Awareness Day and National Eggs Benedict Day
April 17 : National Cheeseball Day
April 18 : International Jugglers Day
April 19 : Garlic Day
April 20 : Look Alike Day
April 21 : Kindergarten Day
April 22 : National Jelly Bean Day
April 23 : Read Me Day and World Laboratory Animal Day
April 24 : National Pigs In A Blanket Day
April 25 : National Zucchini Bread Day
April 26 : Richter Scale Day and National Pretzel Day
April 27 : Tell A Story Day
April 28 : Great Poetry Reading Day and Kiss-Your-Mate Day
April 29 : National Shrimp Scampi Day
April 30 : National Honesty Day