Screen shot 2012-04-03 at 3.22.09 PM

Rep. Gwen Moore on VAWA, shares experience of sexual assault

**Trigger warning**

The House has been hearing testimony and discussing reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).  In perhaps one of the most powerful moments during the floor speeches, on Wednesday, Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI.) spoke about her personal story of being sexually assaulted during her childhood and raped as a young woman.

Rep Moore made the politics personal. As we mentioned in Wendesday’s WWM, she spoke on the House floor about her experience of date-rape:

I don’t have enough time to share all these experiences with you but I can tell you that when this bill came out of the Senate Judiciary Committee with all the Republican Senators, all of the guys voting no, it brought up some terrible memories for me wof having boys sit in a locker room and sort of bet that I, the egghead, couldn’t be ‘had.’ And then the appointed boy, when he saw that I wasn’t going to be so willing , completed a date rape and then took my underwear to display it to the rest of the boys. This is what American women are facing.

As we’ve written about many times in the past few months of VAWA reauthorization debate, the bill is facing opposition from some members of Congress. It’s also facing procedural hurdles, as Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee have not allowed Democrats to bring up the VAWA as a standalone bill. In response, Democrats tried to attach the bill to the vote on the GOP budget proposal on Wednesday afternoon. But with a unanimous vote, Republicans ended the debate on the budget bill before Democrats could attach VAWA.

The Violence Against Women Act would renew grants to U.S. domestic violence prevention and survivor support programs, would increase availability of legal assistance to victims and would extend assistance to battered undocumented immigrants and same-sex couples. Since Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee have not allowed Democrats to bring up the VAWA as a standalone bill, Democrats tried to attach it to the vote on the GOP budget proposal on Wednesday afternoon. But Republicans voted unanimously to end debate on the budget bill before Democrats could do so.

While some Senate Republicans have pledged their support for reauthorizing the VAWA, others have pointed to some elements of it that they find too controversial. Specifically, the fact that the bill creates avenues for battered undocumented immigrants to claim temporary visas and extends domestic violence protections to same-sex couples. Because apparently, for some House Republicans, violence against immigrant women and LGBT folks isn’t worthy of the same support.

Join the Conversation

  • Brüno

    The problem with such a bill is, that if a woman invokes it unjustly, in a divorce from a man that did not commit any violence for example, he has no recourse of defense against that bill.

    • Robert

      That is a major problem in society. Women who lie about sexual assault have ruined it for the real victims. Whenever there is such a bill as this there will always be tons of opponents from both genders. Men that have been falsely accused have female relatives and female friends and in the internet age their stories are heard nationwide. The biggest recent example of this is the Duke Lacrosse team case. I bet since then there have been many college girls raped who weren’t believed because of that case.

    • Meagan

      Actually, the purpose of VAWA is not to prosecute anyone. It simply allows people who otherwise would not be able to report (such as undocumented people) the safety of knowing they can report without being sent out of the country. I work with a lot of people who think they have to stay with their abuser because they either fear that the police will not believe them or listen to them because they are undocumented, or that the police will report them to ICE and they will be deported, or their abuser is holding their passport/VISA/Green Card and/or would not let them renew it, or refused to petition on their behalf so that they could become permanent residents. The other thing it does is expand services for people who are too scared to report assaults to police, such as queer/trans folks, undocumented folks (as mentioned above), native people who are raped at much higher rates with even less legal recourse because of tribal jurisdiction issues and have less services available to them due to extreme poverty on a lot of reservations.

      Also, the idea that “false reporting” is a problem in this society is ridiculous. Do you know what the percentage of reported rape cases that end in conviction is? One percent. So, of the very small number of (privileged, in many respects) people that report, only one percent actually ends up getting justice. The rest of them end up re-traumatized over and over abused and treated like criminals by police and judges. All that VAWA is trying to do is protect people and help them, and is an avenue for the government to put money toward ending sexual and domestic violence in America. It also has initiatives to improve the work that is already being done, and improve prevention work.

  • kjhart

    I just wanted to call to Eesha’s and readers’ attention that fact that the wildly popular, satirical site recently posted a headline entitled, “Gwen Moore (in flagrante D-elicto) slut-shames herself on the floor of the House” with a link to the story about Rep. Moore’s courageous speech. When I contacted Fark, I received an explanation that “the headline was not intended to be literal, it was instead a sarcastic jab at the act of slut shaming in general. It was submitted to Fark (and approved by the admin) in that capacity.” I was told that if Fark “isn’t to your liking, we do hope that you find a site that’s better suited to your more serious sensibilities.” (Do you think that they were subtly hinting that I don’t “get” their brand of satire and to get lost?) If you don’t get the joke either… please let Fark (and everyone else)…know!