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LETTER: VAWA about politics, not protecting women

To the Editor:

Kudos to Rep. Noem and Sen. Thune for opposing the Violence Against Women Act. Make no mistake, decent people are outraged at the abuse of women, but VAWA is more about building feminist power structures than about protecting vulnerable women.

VAWA lulls Americans into believing that actual violence was addressed, when in reality, Congress pushed through a bad bill that hurts sex trafficking victims by decimating the Trafficking in Person office. The TIP office leads the United States' global engagement in the fight against human trafficking.

In addition, VAWA seeks to change the Model State Law to promote the decriminalization of prostitution for minors. The bill fails to protect the conscience of organizations that oppose abortion but want to protect and help trafficking victims.

And with a hefty price tag of $455 million a year, VAWA vastly expands the federal government when these monies could be redirected to the states to reach real victims of domestic violence.

First enacted in 1994, VAWA has for 19 years failed America's most vulnerable women. It has morphed into a series of rigid and ineffective law enforcement programs. It was a bad piece of legislation then, and it's a bad piece of legislation now. Does anyone in Congress learn from past mistakes?

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 it [VAWA] has ever led to a decrease in the overall levels of violence against women."

The feminists were driving this legislation by firing up the so-called "War on Women" rhetoric, implying that a vote against VAWA was a vote against women. I'm glad Rep. Noem and Sen. Thune saw through the rhetoric and did the right thing.

Linda D. Schauer of Leola is the state director of Concerned Women for America of South Dakota.