Archive | February 2013

The Violence Against Women Act is on life support

The Violence Against Women Act is on life support

Posted by Suzy Khimm on January 25, 2013


The death knell for the Violence Against Women Act has been sounding for weeks. “The 112th Congress ended Thursday, and the Violence Against Women Act perished with it,”

In reality, the protections for victims under VAWA haven’t completely gone away, but they are being threatened by ongoing legislative gridlock that the new Congress is now trying to overcome.

On paper, VAWA has been technically “dead” since September 2011, when Congress failed to reauthorize it. But the funding for VAWA’s programs has kept going, because the budgeting process is separate from the reauthorization and Congress has continued to appropriate money for the relevant programs, which assist victims of domestic violence by strengthening federal law enforcement and social services.

“There is no immediate to threat [of] programs shutting down and not being funded,” explains Sharon Stapel, executive director of the Anti-Violence Project. The administration hasn’t changed the legal protections (pdf) set forth under VAWA since its last 2005 reauthorization, including the “rape shield law,” which restricts the ability of a defendant to use an alleged rape victim’s sexual history in court.

However, the last Congress’ failure to reauthorize VAWA has made the future of the law uncertain. There are two ways in which the law’s programs could dry up.

First, Congress could decide to stop funding VAWA’s programs any time after March 27, when the current Continuing Resolution expires, and the expiration of VAWA’s authorization could give fiscally conservative legislators a new rationale for making cuts. That’s fueled significant uncertainty for domestic violence shelters and other groups that receive money from programs authorized by the law. Second, if the law is never reauthorized, a future White House could reverse its legal protections.

There’s still strong bipartisan support for VAWA, but the reason that the law has languished is because Democrats want certain expanded protections for immigrant, LGBT, and Native American victims. The Senate successfully passed a bill with the new provisions in April, 68-31. House Republicans passed their own VAWA bill in May without the new provisions, which the White House then threatened to veto. And the two parties have been deadlocked since then, as neither side believes the other’s legislation is acceptable.

Republicans have raised particularly strong objections to a provision in the Senate Democratic bill that would allow Native American tribal courts to prosecute non-native perpetrators, which they believe is unconstitutional. (The GOP version would allow Native Americans to apply for a protection order in US District Courts, even if the abuse happens on Native American land.)

Republicans have also objected to adding non-discrimination for LGBT victims receiving social services funded VAWA, arguing in 2012 that it was simply a “political statement” in an election year. Finally, they opposed the Senate Democrats’ proposed increase in “U visas,” which are granted to certain undocumented immigrant victims that give them legal status and work authorization. Supporters believe the visas are a valuable law enforcement tool to help prosecute perpetrators while protecting undocumented victims who may be afraid to speak out.

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Status of the effort to renew the Violence Against Women Act

This comes from Editor-in-Chief Judd Legum of

When Congress adjourned last year, they broke a simple promise: to renew the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Instead, they let partisan gridlock get in the way of helping victims of domestic violence. 

Two weeks ago, the new Senate once again approved a version of VAWA that includes protections for the most vulnerable: LGBTNative American, and undocumented victims of partner violence. Every female senator supported it. Twenty-two Republican men voted against it:

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said he will put VAWA up for a vote in the House this week. But there’s a rift forming in the Republican party.

House leadership plans on putting forth a bill that strips out some of these key protections for Native American women and LGBT victims. They’re spouting theories about how the bill is unconstitutional or a states’ rights issue. One Republican even claimed that Native Americans are somehow incapable of giving white people a fair trial.

But another group of about 20 members of Boehner’s own party have begged him to stop the partisan games and just pass the bill as-is. They are asking their colleagues to put the safety of thousands of Americans before a political talking point.

Flu vaccine safe in pregnancy, study confirms

By Mike Stobbe, Associated Press

A large study offers reassuring news for pregnant women: It’s safe to get a flu shot.

The research found no evidence that the vaccine increases the risk of losing a fetus, and may prevent some deaths. Getting the flu while pregnant makes fetal death more likely, the Norwegian research showed.

The flu vaccine has long been considered safe for pregnant women and their officials began recommending flu shots for them more than five decades ago, following a higher death rate in pregnant women during a flu pandemic in the late 1950s.

But the study is perhaps the largest look at the safety and value of flu vaccination during pregnancy, experts say.

“This is the kind of information we need to provide our patients when discussing that flu vaccine is important for everyone, particularly for pregnant women,” said Dr. Geeta Swamy, a researcher who studies vaccines and pregnant women atDukeUniversityMedicalCenter.

The study was released by the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday as theUnited States andEurope suffer through an early and intense flu season. AU.S. obstetricians group this week reminded members that it’s not too late for their pregnant patients to get vaccinated.

The new study was led by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. It tracked pregnancies inNorwayin 2009 and 2010 during an international epidemic of a new swine flu strain.

Before 2009, pregnant women inNorwaywere not routinely advised to get flu shots. But during the pandemic, vaccinations against the new strain were recommended for those in their second or third trimester.

The study focused on more than 113,000 pregnancies. Of those, 492 ended in the death of the fetus. The researchers calculated that the risk of fetal death was nearly twice as high for women who weren’t vaccinated as it was in vaccinated mothers.

U.S.flu vaccination rates for pregnant women grew in the wake of the 2009 swine flu pandemic, from less than 15 percent to about 50 percent. But health officials say those rates need to be higher to protect newborns as well. Infants can’t be vaccinated until 6 months, but studies have shown they pick up some protection if their mothers got the annual shot, experts say.

Because some drugs and vaccines can be harmful to a fetus, there is a long-standing concern about giving any medicine to a pregnant woman, experts acknowledged. But this study should ease any worries about the flu shot, said Dr. Denise Jamieson of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The vaccine is safe,” she said.

House Leadership Blocking Inclusive VAWA. Again.

Statement of NOW President Terry O’Neill

February 22, 2013

The Republican House leadership has turned to its ultra-conservative, anti-woman playbook yet again to block passage of an inclusive, bipartisan version of the Violence Against Women Act. The new House bill purposely excludes LGBT survivors and even rolls back existing programs and protections for all survivors in the current VAWA. Majority Leader Eric Cantor and company know they don’t have the votes to pass their version of VAWA reauthorization, but they don’t care. They will do anything to derail the process.

Women’s rights supporters are not fooled. We saw what the right-wing was about during last year’s elections, and this is just more of the same. If they keep this up, the conservative majority in the House will be history in 2014, and we can get back to the business of moving this nation forward, not backward.


Washington, D.C. (January 17, 2013) The National Women’s History Museum (NWHM) is pleased to announce a leading role in the upcoming Suffrage Centennial Celebration in Washington, D.C., March 1 – 3, 2013.  The weekend will be a national celebration of women winning the vote and the power of their ballot, honoring a victory that took three generations and 72 years.  It will highlight events beginning in 1913 that put suffrage in the national spotlight, and in 1920, secured women’s voting rights through the Nineteenth Amendment now enshrined in the Constitution.

We’re dedicated to bringing this pivotal time in women’s history alive and are thrilled to join with other organizations and institutions—and women and men across the country—to embrace this grand Suffrage Centennial Celebration,”said Joan Wages, President and CEO of the National Women’s History Museum.

March is National Women’s History Month throughout the nation, but the DC kickoff is tailor-made for the many hungering for a richer slice of women’s history than that served up by most history books.  Women weren’t “given the right to vote,” and suffrage pioneers Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony were far from the movement’s only heroines.

Young suffragists and master strategists Alice Paul and Lucy Burns arrived in DC as 1913 began.  They were impatient, fed up with state-by-state efforts  that, after 65 years, had brought women voting rights in just 10 states—mostly western states eager to attract women.  Only 60 days later, their historic women’s suffrage procession down Pennsylvania Avenue on March 3, 1913, signaled pursuit of a new national strategy– a constitutional amendment to win voting rights and a desire for the national spotlight.

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The Women’sMediaCenter: The Status of Women in theU.S.Media 2013

The Women’sMediaCenter– founded by Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan, and Gloria Steinem – has the goal of making women visible and powerful in media.

Media influence is one of the most powerful economic and cultural forces today.  By deciding who gets to talk, what shapes the debate, who writes, and what is important enough to report, media shape our understanding of who we are and what we can be.

The problem is that we only rarely use half of our talent and usually hear half of the story.

This report shines a light on the status of women in media and underscores the crucial need to hold media accountable for an equal voice and equal participation.

Introduction and Methods

This report summarizes the most recent available statistical data on:

  • Representation of women in media occupations associated with determining content of news
  • Representation of women in media occupations associated with determining content of television and film entertainment
  • Gender equity in literature reviews
  • How women are depicted on entertainment television and film
  • Women in obituaries
  • Women and digital news consumption
  • How women’s issues, female journalists and newsmakers fared during the 2012 presidential election
  • Representation of women for online-only sites and in video games
  • Recommendations to news organizations, producers and interview bookers

The Status of Women in the U.S. Media 2013 report consists of a meta-analysis of stories, studies, data and issues that affect women and media. The author compiled, reviewed and analyzed the latest quantitative and qualitative data and research on women and media, and conducted interviews.

Click here to read the full report:

[To go to the full text of this article:]

Effects of Bullying Last Into Adulthood, Study Finds



 New York Times – Health|Science

 Victims of bullying at school, and bullies themselves, are more likely to experience psychiatric problems in childhood, studies have shown. Now researchers have found that elevated risk of psychiatric trouble extends into adulthood, sometimes even a decade after the intimidation has ended. The new study, published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry on Wednesday [ ], is the most comprehensive effort to date to establish the long-term consequences of childhood bullying, experts said.

“It documents the elevated risk across a wide range of mental health outcomes and over a long period of time,” said Catherine Bradshaw [], an expert on bullying and a deputy director of the Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence at Johns Hopkins University, which was not involved in the study. “The experience of bullying in childhood can have profound effects on mental health in adulthood, particularly among youths involved in bullying as both a perpetuator and a victim,” she added.

Researchers found that victims of bullying in childhood were 4.3 times more likely to have an anxiety disorder as adults, compared to those with no history of bullying or being bullied.

Bullies who were also victims were particularly troubled: they were 14.5 times more likely to develop panic disorder as adults, compared to those who did not experience bullying, and 4.8 times more likely to experience depression. Men who were both bullies and victims were 18.5 times more likely to have had suicidal thoughts in adulthood, compared to the participants who had not been bullied or perpetuators. Their female counterparts were 26.7 times more likely to have developed agoraphobia, compared to children not exposed to bullying.

“We were actually able to say being a victim of bullying is having an effect a decade later, above and beyond other psychiatric problems in childhood and other adversities,” said William E. Copeland, lead author of the study and an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences atDukeUniversityMedicalCenter.

Bullying is not a harmless rite of passage, but inflicts lasting psychiatric damage on a par with certain family dysfunctions, Dr. Copeland said. “The pattern we are seeing is similar to patterns we see when a child is abused or maltreated or treated very harshly within the family setting,” he said.

[Read more of the story at:]

Website established to recognize author Betty Friedan and her legacy

Peoria, IL (February 19, 2013) A new website that pays tribute to author and former Peorian Betty Friedan and that will serve as an educational resource has been unveiled on the Bradley University website.

The Betty Friedan Tribute, a joint project between the Betty Friedan Tribute committee and the Bradley University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has been launched at The website launch coincides with the 50th anniversary of the publication of Friedan’s groundbreaking book The Feminine Mystique.

“Bradley is the perfect host for the Friedan Tribute page,” said Dr. Stacey Robertson, Interim Dean of Bradley’sCollegeofLiberal Artsand Sciences. “Friedan’s seminal book helped spark the Women’s Liberation Movement of the 1970s with a strong emphasis on the importance of education.  Bradley was founded by Lydia Moss Bradley, who also saw the value of education. Both women paved the way for increased women’s equality.”

The website will be updated regularly with the latest scholarship and news about Friedan. Professors and students in disciplines such as History, Women’s Studies, Education, and English will be encourage to utilize and contribute to the website and it is expected that schools and individuals will find the website an educational resource.

The Betty Friedan Tribute page currently features information on Ms. Friedan, her family, her writings, and her brother’s reminiscences about his sister. It also includes information on the Women’s Movement, photos, tributes, and curricula on feminism and women’s liberation.

The Peoria Area Community Foundation and its Women’s Fund provided seed money to develop the website.


Why starting a business can help women close the pay gap

Starting a business can be scary, but it can also help women avoid the gender pay gap that exists in the corporate world, writes Belinda Parmar of Lady Geek. One study found that women in theU.K. who are established business owners make more than their male peers.  “For women, an environment where financial reward is more closely tied to personal endeavor is extremely attractive,” she writes.

To read the rest of this story, go to Forbes Magazine at:

Women and girls make up 75% of all trafficked people

An estimated 20.9 million people are trafficked worldwide — about 58% for purposes of sexual exploitation and another 36% for other forms of forced labor, according to a report of the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime. Traffickers target more women and foreign nationals than in other crimes, pulling from at least 136 nationalities in 118 countries, the report said.

Read the rest of this story from the Washington Post at: