Essay: Riverside Press-Enterprise the Political

Pages: 6 (1715 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 6  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Sports - Women  ·  Buy This Paper

¶ … Riverside Press-Enterprise

The Political Background on VAWA

There is an interesting, bipartisan history attached to the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which was originally authored by then U.S. Senator Joe Biden, and first passed in the Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994. The legislation was the initial major federal approach to try and to something about what journalist Kate Pickert calls "…the scourge of domestic violence" (Pickert, 2013, p. 1). Writing in Time magazine, Pickert explains that one of the most significant changes in society -- as far as law enforcement is concerned -- impacted by VAWA was that cops could no longer treat a case where a woman was being savagely beaten as a "private family matter" (p. 2).

The law meant that grant funding would be available for states to provide "mandatory arrest policies" -- and that no matter whether or not a battered woman wanted to prosecute her abuser, "…domestic violence cases could move through the justice system" (Pickert, p. 2). Previous to the initial VAWA, if the victim refused to cooperate with law enforcement, the case was dropped and the violent abuser got off scot free.

When the law came up for re-authorization in 2000, it passed with flying colors; in fact it had "overwhelming bipartisan support" in both 2000 and 2005, according to Penny Lee, writing in U.S. News & World Report. However, the VAWA was not reauthorized when it came up at the tail end of 2012. It became just another bitter fight between conservatives and liberals, Republicans and Democrats, in a log-jammed, bitterly polarized Congress, an institution that has recently received less than 20% of favorable support from the American public.

In fact 168 Republicans -- including 11 Republican women -- voted against reauthorization, Lee explains. One of the GOP women who opposed it was Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee. Why did she oppose VAWA? "I didn't like the way it was expanded to include other different groups," she said (Lee, p. 1).

Section A -- (1) Objections by Republicans

Who were those "other different groups?" They are groups that conservatives in general and Republicans (and Tea Party members) in particular do not support in any way, particularly not in terms of legislation protecting their rights.

The Senate had added provisions to the legislation "…for Native Americans, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth, and undocumented women [immigrants] who have been victims of violence" (Lee, p. 1). Those additions, indeed, caused the sticking point for Republicans, a party that has consistently (over the past six to eight years) been leaning to the far right (think Tea Party influences), and generally opposes gay rights legislation along with taking a hard line against undocumented immigrants here in the U.S. illegally. To wit, the GOP has taken draconian stands against giving illegal immigrants a pathway to citizenship, and the GOP has even suggested massive deportation procedures be carried out to physically, forcibly remove immigrants in the U.S. illegally. Hence, the GOP resistance to protecting female Latinos in the reauthorization bill can be understood based on right wing ideology.

As for Native Americans, the U.S. Justice Department reports that "…one in three Native women is raped over her lifetime," and the sad part is many Native females are "too demoralized to report rape" (Erdrich, 2013). More than 80% of violent sex crimes on reservations are not committed by Native American men; and tribal courts do not prosecute crimes by non-Indians, hence, the need for Native American women to be included in the reauthorization of VAWA (Erdrich). The new version of VAWA includes provisions that allow non-Indian rapists to be prosecuted in tribal courts.

Regarding violence against lesbians, one in three have endured "…severe physical violence from an intimate partner," Lee explains. About half of bisexual women have been raped during their lifetimes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports (Lee, p. 1).

Part A (2) -- Successful Outcomes for VAWA

But, notwithstanding that the VAWA has in the past been proven effective -- intimate partner violence was down 64% between 1994 and 2010 -- the Republican party in the House postponed the passage of the law. On February 28, 2013, it passed the Senate 72-22 and, finally, after failing to gain the support of enough Republicans -- postponing protections for woman for a year and a half -- the House vote was 286-138. Not one single Democrat voted against VAWA. That said, it should be noted that six Republican Senators -- Mike Crapo (Idaho); Mark Kirk (Illinois); Lisa Murkowski (Alaska); Olympia Snow (Maine); Susan Collins (Maine); and Scott Brown of Massachusetts were co-sponsors of the newly updated legislation (Serwer, 2012).

Meanwhile, the White House produced a "fact sheet" covering issues that the Violence Against Women Act (reauthorization) covers. First of all this paper will provide a review of the successes that the VAWA has enjoyed since initially being put on the federal books as law. Between 1993 and 2010, the rate of intimate partner violence declined 67% (a slightly different percentage than that presented by Serwer above).

Between 1993 and 2007, the White House reports, the rate of intimate partner homicides of females "…decreased 35% and the rate of intimate partner homicides of males decreased 46%" (White House, 2013). Also, more victims are reporting sexual domestic-related violence to police departments, and police have been making arrests (whereas in the past the victim might well decide not to press charges because of fear the abusive partner would be even more intense in the punishment). The National Domestic Violence Hotline receives 22,000 calls each month, and 92% of the callers today report it is their "first call for help; that implies that women are not as afraid to call for help as they were in the past because they know the VAWA gives police the authority to make arrests.

Part A (3) -- States Reformed Laws vis-a-vis VAWA

"All states have reformed their laws to take violence against women more seriously," the White House continues, and previously many states treated "date or spousal rape" as a lesser crime than "stranger rape," but VAWA changed that. Also, all states have made "stalking" a crime and all states have passed laws allowing for "…warrantless arrests in misdemeanor domestic violence cases" when the responding officer believes a "probably cause" exists for the arrest (White House).

Moreover, states have passed laws (not all states, but many states) that prohibit police from giving rape victims polygraph tests; and more than 35 states (including the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands) have adopted legislation that makes stalking in the workplace (and domestic and sexual violence in the workplace) a felony (White House). And for employees (in 35 states) that have become victims in the workplace, if they leave their jobs because of the abuse they received, they are entitled to unemployment benefits (White House).

Part B -- The Riverside Press-Enterprise

The Riverside Press-Enterprise (online it is the www.pe.com) provides daily news and information for Inland Southern California. The paper is located at 3450 Fourteenth Street, in Riverside, California (92501). It has the largest circulation of any other paper in what is known as the "Inland Empire" (east of the major Los Angeles area sprawl). The paper is read heavily in Riverside County, but also read a great deal in San Bernardino County. It is owned by Freedom Communications, which also owns the Orange County Resister. The Press-Enterprise can boast of having received a Pulitzer Prize in 1968; a series of articles by journalist George Ringwald exposed corruption in the courts regarding the handling of properties own by the Agua Caliente Indian Tribe in Palm Springs, California.

In fact Freedom Communications purchased the P-E in November, 2013, for a reported $27.25 million (Bensinger, 2013). The trend among all newspapers (including the P-E) has been to "…consolidate markets, so you can share costs among a greater group of properties," according to media consultant Alan Mutter. Freedom Communications CEO Aaron Kushner now owns several newspapers, and he is aware that circulation for all newspapers is on a downward spiral. The P-E has cut editorial staff because it has seen circulation drop from 99,743 two years ago to 87,775 in 2013 (Bensinger, p. 2).

When a telephone call was placed to the Press-Enterprise, a person in the editorial department explained that submissions for the "Op-Ed" page (opposite the paper's own editorials) were to be no more than 200 words. Letters to the editor, on the other hand, are allowed to go as long as 600 words, the editorial employee explained. Looking at the editorials online in the P-E, they feature short, tight paragraphs, with a very strong first paragraph.

Part C -- The Editorial

Finally, the feuding and ideologically polarized elected officials in the U.S. House of Representatives got something right for a change -- and American women of all socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds will benefit.

House members on both sides of the aisle worked with leaders in the U.S.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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