Good news – VAWA (the Violence Against Women Act) has passed reauthorization in both the Senate and the House, with a 20% increase in funding. It will not have to be reauthorized again until 2010.
VAWA, among other things, funds grants to shelters and other programs assisting victims of domestic violence. It also funds some high-quality federal research on subjects like rape, domestic violence, and stalking, which although not the most important thing VAWA does, is one reason I’m such a big fan of it.
This Mother Jones article will give interested readers a sense of the stuff VAWA funds. If you’re really interested, you can also read over the testimony given at the US Senate Committee Meeting on VAWA.
Another interesting change: Men’s Right’s Advocates succeeded in getting some new language put into VAWA:
I’m glad that provision has been added; I’m not convinced that VAWA was being generally applied in a way that excluded men (despite the unfortunate title, most of VAWA is written in scrupulously gender-neutral language), but having nondiscrimination explicitly stated in the legislation is still a good thing.
On the other hand, it worries me that some of the MRAs who are happy over this new language see it as the first step towards eliminating VAWA entirely. Here’s an exchange from a men’s rights forum:
DR. EVIL: Of course we would all like to see it disappear. You can’t stop a runaway freight train by snapping your fingers. We needed this to start the process of slowing it down. This is an important first step. There is more planned. We are on our way.
So much for the claim that MRAs aren’t seeking to defund shelters for women. (To be fair, perhaps the MRAs quoted above – despite Dr. Evil’s statement – don’t speak for all MRAs).
UPDATE: Dr. Evil has implied that he wants to eliminate VAWA but somehow replace the funding VAWA provides to shelters. So he’s anti-VAWA, but pro-funding-shelters. My apologies to Dr. Evil for my misunderstanding.