Section 40241 designated federal funding for Battered Women's Shelters established in the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act of 1984.
Yep - there was a law before VAWA.
Title III: Family Violence Prevention and Services - Family Violence Prevention and Services Act - Authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services to make demonstration grants to States to assist in supporting the establishment, maintenance, and States to assist in supporting the establishment, maintenance, and expansion of programs and projects to: (1) prevent incidents of family violence; and (2) provide shelter and related assistance for victims and dependents of victims of family violence in order to prevent future violent incidents.VAWA's section 40241 increased funding for battered women's shelters through the year 2000.
FVPSA's grant eligibility requirements are simple:
To be eligible to receive a grant under this section, an entity shall be a local agency, a nonprofit private organization (including faith-based and charitable organizations, community-based organizations, and voluntary associations), or a tribal organization, with a demonstrated record of serving victims of family violence, domestic violence, or dating violence and their children.
States had a longer list of requirements in order to obtain an allotment of funds to distribute to these agencies;
They had to prove the funds were being used for their designated purpose, that the state give "special emphasis" to community-based support, primarily in the form of shelters, but also for treatment of conditions contributing to an abuse victim remaining in an abusive relationship. States had to prove that urban and rural areas were both represented, with representation not limited by income, and victim information kept confidential. States also had to demonstrate having a process in place for eviction of abusers from shared residences. States were barred from gender discrimination in the application of policy related to this funding.
The 1994 act did not create these programs. It increased funding for them, and contained wording which imposed the gender restrictions which the original law forbade, referring to the domestic abuse shelters as "battered women's shelters" and describing domestic violence as "violence against women."
VAWA also established additional assistance for victims, which was backed with still more federal funding.
From the original bill, section 40114, Authorization for Federal Victim's Counselors:
- There are authorized to be appropriated for the United States
Attorneys for the purpose of appointing Victim/Witness Counselors for
the prosecution of sex crimes and domestic violence crimes where
applicable (such as the District of Columbia)--
- (1) $500,000 for fiscal year 1996;
- (2) $500,000 for fiscal year 1997; and
- (3) $500,000 for fiscal year 1998.
While the funding and maintenance of shelters for abuse victims is a benevolent action, when it is combined with the rest of the bill, this adds incentive to find victims to the already existing incentive to find perpetrators. And while this doesn't mean that all allegations are false, it does create an environment conducive to the support and promotion of false allegations through the system. Last but not least, while gender-neutral terms like family, domestic, and partner were used in the original FVPSA law, VAWA is peppered with instances of the use of the word "women," indicating to the reader that certain services, policy, and law laid out by the text are designated strictly for the benefit and use of women.
Moving forward: The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 (yes, the stimulus bill - remember when Republicans said there were items hidden in that bill which had nothing to do with economic stimulus?) established Violence Against Women Formula Grants to fund female-based initiatives.
Text copied from the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance and placed into an image with all instances of the word "women" tinted red:
This clearly establishes a mandate for the entire legal system to treat domestic violence as a crime committed by men against women. Funding for this program is in Section 101 of the 2005 re-authorization of VAWA update: Stop Grant Improvements, which establishes funding for Jessica Gonzales Victim Assistants, whose job it is to advocate for women who have obtained restraining orders, and for the Crystal Judson Domestic Violence Protocol Program, which is charged with influencing law enforcement response to domestic violence allegations.
Now, we have a program which initially provided incentives separately to the branches of its authorities of execution - money to law enforcement and judicial systems to fund their activities, and money to victim's services systems to fund their activities. In the 2005 re-authorization of VAWA, the federal government decided to cross the streams, resulting in a system wherein victim's advocates had the government-sanctioned ability to influence the legal system in favor of accusers and against the accused.
That is the system which led to the events in this case.
Following that update was the 2012 re-authorization bill, which contained still more changes, including one which would have given tribal courts limited jurisdiction to oversee domestic violence offenses committed against Native American women by non-Native American men on tribal lands. When the controversy over that stipulation was presented to reddit's /r/mensrights, my comment was:
That whole issue is quicksand. There is no wining that discussion for the Republicans, or for NOW. The more both sides maneuver on this, the more wrong they're both going to be.*meaning, of course, the question of will he be employed when he gets out, and still able to support himself, or will being falsely imprisoned leave him broke and homeless, too?
On one hand, you have the home court advantage issue on both sides. Because of the circumstances, either side of a domestic case in which the woman is tribal and the man is not will be able to claim that the other side's native legal system will be biased. In both cases, that claim would probably be right.
On the other hand, there is the issue of timeliness. When there is an arrest over an allegation of criminal violence on a reservation, and it's going to take a month or two for anyone to get in there and handle it, what is the community's law enforcement to do? Keep the accused imprisoned the whole time? Allow bail-bought probational freedom? What if they keep an innocent man locked up for two months, unable to work*, and then he is acquitted? What if they let a guilty man out, and he goes home and kills his wife?
And that's not even taking into account the sexist nature of VAWA, and American law enforcement's handling of it. What if the perp is a woman? When she's arrested for beating, raping, or otherwise harming her partner, will American law enforcement back tribal law enforcement up on that arrest?
The update sought to slap a bandaid over the edge of a gaping wound on the face of American interaction with tribal populations; our government cannot make up its mind whether Indian Reservations are U.S. territory, subject to U.S. law and with their people benefiting from U.S. policy, or whether they are independent territory, and the people there are on their own. When it benefits politicians to claim tribal people as American folks and American responsibility, they're fully willing to interfere in tribal culture, community, and government. When it benefits politicians to turn their heads and ignore tribal issues, then that is what they do. The VAWA update argument is no different than that.
The 2005 and 2012 renewals also included several areas where text specifying application of policy as being to various types of crime (sex crimes, dating violence, assault) expanded to include the broadly defined term "stalking."
An individual may be accused of stalking if the accuser claims that the accused repeatedly followed or harassed the accuser, having made an expressed or implied threat with intent to make the accuser fear death or serious bodily harm. As VAWA is written, however, charges of stalking can be leveled based on the alleged victim's feelings of fear, regardless of the alleged perpetrator's intent.
To recap: VAWA contains sexist, female-specific language, funding for research designed to justify its policies, and further funding designed to influence law enforcement, prosecutors, and the judicial system by incentivizing arrest, conviction, harsh sentencing, and sentence enforcement. It also contains funding to incentivize identification of victims and pursuit of action against accused perpetrators. Updates have introduced funding for female-oriented victim's advocacy programs designed to further influence law enforcement, and expanded the definition of domestic abuse. This is not a gender-neutral law, with problems caused at the law-enforcement end. This is a gender-specific law with problems written into its design, so that no part of the legal system has any choice but to apply it in an entirely sexist fashion, and the recently defeated update demonstrated in its text that if politicians have their way, that trend will only continue.
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