Tuesday, December 20, 2005

VAWA Re-Authorized

In the "another small triumph" department, on Saturday Congress re-authorized the Violence Against Women Act. There were actually several small improvements in the bill, which surprised me. My prediction was that they would continue the old funding strategy, just to be able to fund something and begin the winter recess.

New features of VAWA include:

  • rape survivor services. Previously only rape prevention had been funded by the act.
  • housing provisions are greatly improved, including the possibility that a tenant can break a lease to flee an abuser.
  • allowing for the possibility of using a PO Box instead of a street address on legal identification. Some survivors of family violence really do need to obscure their address and now they can do that.
  • health care services, and
  • employment protection.

I'm still scratching my head over the men's-rights advocates' insistence on language "clarifying" that family violence services are gender-neutral. They've always been available to men, which I'm sure these advocates know. So, nothing changed, and they're claiming it as a big victory. Carry on, fellas. The rest of us have actual work to do.

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