Fighting For and Fighting Back...

- The Battle to Eliminate Gender-Based Violence

This election proved that women, especially young women, have found their voices and  said “no” to a massive attempt to assert control over their rights, their bodies and their futures.

There is no question - these attempts will continue and the need to fight for our rights and fight back against patriarchal attitudes and assaults will be as massive as ever.

Like reproductive rights, the ERA and legislation addressing the broken care economy, sexual assault, intimate partner violence and the entire sordid spectrum of violence against women demand our attention.

Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was included in the Senate’s Omnibus Spending bill passed earlier this year.  To achieve passage, however, its supporters had to eliminate the section which addressed the “boyfriend loophole” which allows access to guns to ex-boyfriends or stalkers who have been convicted of (or had a restraining order related to) domestic violence.

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, passed subsequently, did narrow the loophole somewhat, but it still exists.  About 31 states have some sort of relevant legislation but this could change at any moment.

In the House, 137 Republicans voted against reauthorization of VAWA because it included gun regulation and offered protections for same sex couples and transgender individuals.  With a majority in the House, the Republican agenda will only become more aggressive.  

Dozens of other positive pieces of legislation languished without attention this year and, without doubt, there will be continued attempts to relax regulations in the coming years.

Hate crimes have risen dramatically in the U.S and intimate partner violence has as well.  Rarely is violence against women treated as a hate crime though it should be.  With 3 women a day murdered by an intimate partner, it is well past time to raise this particular pandemic to crisis status.  Gender-based violence is unquestionably a life or death issue.

Incidentally, passage of the Equal Rights Amendment would make all of our fights easier.  We should never let our attention on the need to ground our rights in the Constitution flag.  

Please consider joining the Democrats Abroad  Violence Against Women team and the fight against gender-based violence.  We need leadership for everything from tracking legislation or building coalitions, to writing social media or helping organize events. We also need people who may not have lots of time but would be willing to help how and when they are able. There are many particularly vulnerable populations and we also hope to find team members who will advocate on their behalf.  You can write to Marnie Delaney [email protected] for more information or to volunteer as part of our small but mighty team.  

This is what we can do in a year without an election.  We can fight for rights and we can fight against attempts to oppress, demean or marginalize women.  Please consider joining us.