Tuesday, September 15, 2009

VAWA turns 15....well Happy Birthday...but what about men?

This is about the Violence against Women Act which turned 15 recently. Congrats!

We learn the following.
505,000: The number of victims who were assisted by the STOP Violence Against Women Formula Grant Program, a project of the Office of Violence Against Women.

1,201,000: The number of services provided to these victims in communities across America as a result of the grants awarded by the Office of Violence Against Women’s STOP program.

4,700: The number of individuals arrested for violations of protection orders intended to prevent violence against woman under the STOP program.

This data, from 2007, is startling, because we know it only represents a fraction of the women who are victims of violence. One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year, and one in six women will experience an attempted or completed rape at some time in her life.
Without a doubt supporting victims of DV is a good thing. A fast Wiki research reveals that VAWA provides a whooping 1,6 Billion $ to support those victims. That certainly is a lot of funding. But what about men?

Looking at the numbers above, I can instantly tell you that those numbers are from the National Violence Against Women Survey (NVWS). I cite
1.3 percent of surveyed women and 0.9 percent of surveyed men reported experiencing such violence (intimate partner violence) in the previous 12 months. Approximately 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are physically assaulted by an intimate
835,000 men or 39% of all yearly vitims found by that study are men. I seriously doubt that 39% of VAWA (which is by the way written gender-neutral) fundings were spent to support male victims. We also learn this from Wiki.
Many grant programs authorized in VAWA have been funded by the U.S. Congress. The following grant programs, which are administered primarily through the Office on Violence Against Women in the U.S. Department of Justice have received appropriations from Congress:
STOP Grants (State Formula Grants); Transitional Housing Grants; Grants to Encourage Arrest and Enforce Protection Orders; Court Training and Improvement Grants; Research on Violence Against Indian Women; National Tribal Sex Offender Registry; Stalker Reduction Database; Federal Victim Assistants; Sexual Assault Services Program; Services for Rural Victims;Civil Legal Assistance for Victims; Elder Abuse Grant Program; Protections and Services for Disabled Victims; Combating Abuse in Public Housing; National Resource Center on Workplace Responses; Violence on College Campuses Grants; Safe Havens Project; Services for Children and Youth Exposed to Violence;Engaging Men and Youth in Prevention.
The highlighted grant seems to be the only one that involves men. And it is not about male victims but prevention. Now I have more than once heard that MRAs should built there own shelters. The problem is not building shelters, the problem is funding.those shelters. Domestic Violence researcher Straus talks about VAWA and male victims here.
There is a small but increasingly influential men’s movement starting to change the political climate. For example, they have lobbied members of  Congress to make the renewed Violence Against Women Act gender inclusive. In New Hampshire, the legislature created a committee on the status of men. There is a hotline for male victims and another that is explicitly gender-inclusive. Both have been refused funding under the Violence Against Women Act; however, legal action is being taken to reverse that, just as legal action was crucial in the effort to force police and prosecutors to treat violence against women as the crime that it is.
And indeed VAWA will be up for reauthorization in 2011 and I still hope that a huge chunk of victims will NOT be ignored because of their sex in the future. Well one can dream...

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