For this month's Readers' Review: "Drown" -- the debut collection of short stories by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Junot Diaz. Twenty years ago, Diaz published ten heart-breaking tales about a fragmented family from the Dominican Republic finding their way in 1980s America.
The Senate votes to extend the landmark domestic violence bill. But as it heads to the House, the additional provisions could fall victim to politics in an election year.
- Charlotte Hays Senior fellow, Independent Women's Forum
- Terry O'Neill president, National Organization for Women.
- Naftali Bendavid national correspondent, The Wall Street Journal.
MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. A renewal of the landmark domestic violence bill passed the Senate last week after many rounds of haggling. But as it heads to the House, it could be held up by a fight over politics. Joining me to talk about its prospects: Terry O'Neill of the National Organization for Women, Naftali Bendavid of The Wall Street Journal and Charlotte Hays of the Independent Women's Forum.
MS. DIANE REHMYour calls, questions, comments are invited and welcome. Join us on 800-433-8850. Send email to email@example.com. You can reach us also on Facebook or Twitter. Good morning to all of you.
MR. NAFTALI BENDAVIDGood morning.
MS. TERRY O'NEILLGood morning.
MS. CHARLOTTE HAYSGood morning, Diane.
REHMNaftali, if I could start with you, tell us about the version that the Senate passed.
BENDAVIDWell, this is a $2.2 billion, five-year reauthorization of a bill that was initially passed in 1994. It's been reauthorized a couple times since then. And it provides grants and toughens penalties for various kinds of violence against women. There's a few items in it, though, that Republicans objected to, and the ones that stand out are -- there was one that gave additional authority to Native American tribal authorities to pursue and prosecute non-Native abusers or alleged abusers.
BENDAVIDThere is a provision that's a non-discrimination provision involving gays and lesbians, particularly for domestic violence shelters and organizations like that. And lastly, they raised the number of what are called U visas, visas for undocumented immigrants who have been the subject of or the target of domestic violence or violence against women. So those three things, which the Democrats say are a way to extend protections to particularly vulnerable groups, Republicans objected to as being overreach and being unnecessary and possibly even unconstitutional.
REHMBut the vote, as I understand it, was pretty substantially in favor.
BENDAVIDIt absolutely was. It was -- the vote was 68-31, with 15 Republicans joining all the Democrats. And, you know, the dynamics of this -- nobody wants to be against a Violence Against Women Act. I mean, it's an issue that's obviously extremely important and is a problem, and there are few people saying that it isn't. The Democrats, you know, structured this bill. The Republicans did have their alternative, which didn't fare so well. But the Republicans were in a position, many of them, of just not wanting to be against this.
REHMAnd how is the proposed House version different?
BENDAVIDWell, the House bill does a few things. It toughens some penalties. It allocates monies in certain different ways. It has some anti-fraud provisions, audit requirements and so forth, but it also omits the three items that we were talking about before that have to do with Native Americans, with gays and lesbians and with undocumented aliens. Those are sort of the main things that are kind of being held up as elements of controversy and potential dispute.
REHMAnd just as a little history, this is the first time since 1994 when there was not unanimous support for the bill.
BENDAVIDYeah, it's been reauthorized since then twice, in 2000 and in 2005. And in both cases, there was broad bipartisan support. And I have to say, I mean, Republicans are very quick to say, we don't oppose the underlying bill. You know, we -- we're in favor of this whole thing. They accused the Democrats of putting in what they consider poison pills that make it difficult for them to support it.
BENDAVIDDemocrats say, again, they're just trying to expand protections to vulnerable groups in a very sort of logical way. But Republicans are, you know, very quick to say, we're not against the Violence Against Women Act.
REHMNaftali Bendavid of The Wall Street Journal. Terry O'Neill, one of the provisions Naftali talked about allows Native American women to pursue perpetrators of violence through tribal courts. What's wrong with the existing allowance? What's wrong with the existing system?
O'NEILLIt doesn't protect Native American women adequately. What the -- the agencies that implement the Violence Against Women Act were asked to go and find information, go gather evidence and see if there are underserved populations. And, in fact, one of the group -- one of the underserved populations that they found on the basis of surveys in studies that they did was that Native American women -- that rates of violence against them are significantly higher on reservations than off the reservation.
O'NEILLWhy is that? Well, partly, it's because of this confusion and inadequacy of jurisdiction. So the tribal authorities don't have authority over a non-tribe member who may be living on the reservation and committing this crime. But, still, the tribal authorities can't do it, so maybe the federal authorities should. Well, it's a large rural, sparsely populated areas you're talking about, and the federal authorities simply don't have the resources or whatever.
O'NEILLWhat happens is, on the reservation, when you have domestic violence or violence against women that goes unpunished, then perpetrators know they can get away with it. So what this law does is allow tribal authorities to hold perpetrators accountable. And it's -- we think it's a key part of lowering the rate of violence against women on the reservation.
REHMTerry O'Neill, she is president of the National Organization for Women. Charlotte Hays, what is your thinking about this provision regarding Native Americans?
HAYSWell, we want to hold perpetrators accountable, but we want to make sure the accused get all the due process to which they're entitled. And one problem with people who are not part of the tribe being punished or brought to justice in a tribal court is they may not get due process. There are a lot of provisions in this law as a whole where men who are accused have their due process eroded.
HAYSNow, tribal courts have different standards of justice. I mean, I don't think that they're bound by the Bill of Rights. So it's a whole different standard for justice. And if you're not a member of the tribe and you're being tried in a tribal court, I think you've got some problems right there.
REHMTell me how the Independent Women's Forum feels about the Senate bill as a whole as passed.
HAYSLet me say, look, we're all against any kind of violence against women or any other vulnerable population, but there are many reasons to vote against this law. When it was enacted in 1994, originally, these have been state problems. States had jurisdiction over these, you know, the police force, this, that and the other, and it was taken to a federal level in part because they felt that the state level didn't give them the right platform to talk about violence. Violence was seen as a sexist issue.
HAYSWomen are attacked or beaten up by men because of sexism. Well, I think that overlooks the real problem. It's often 'cause people are bad. It's often because of alcoholism. It's often because of bad marriages. I think by pushing it on to a sort of idea of sexism and ideology, you get it off the real issue, which, of course, is violence against women. And, by the way, there were some great provisions that came up with the Republicans.
HAYSFor example, Sen. Cornyn said, let's put more money into keeping rape kits up to date. We're for that because that's really for women. Let's have a federal registry for assault forensics. Hey, that's a great idea because that's not ideologically driven, Diane, and it protects women. And that's, you know, that's what we're interested in.
REHMCharlotte Hays, she is senior fellow at the Independent Women's Forum. Do join us, 800-433-8850. Send us your email. You can join us on Facebook or Twitter. Terry O'Neill, I know you want to chime in.
O'NEILLI did. I just wanted to correct one thing. The tribal authority in the Violence Against Women Act passed by the Senate is contingent on the tribes providing the same kinds of constitutional guarantees that federal courts provide. So the idea that there could be some constitutional problem there is just really not there. And, definitely, the Debbie Smith Act, which provides for updating of rape kits and clearing up the backlog of rape kits, already exists.
O'NEILLWe want it to be better funded. We want it to be fully funded. But to suggest that the Republicans had wanted to do rape kits and somehow the proponents of the Violence Against Women Act didn't is really not correct. We do have that.
REHMYeah. Explain rape kits for me.
O'NEILLIt's a DNA kit, and what happens is that you have -- if you have a sexual assault, forensic examination that is done in the proper way, you can get DNA evidence. Some counties have backlogs in the thousands of kits that have not been analyzed. It turns out that actually rape -- we're beginning to understand that rape really is a serial crime. If you can get DNA -- the DNA evidence processed immediately on time, you can begin to catch these rapists that are raping a number of women.
HAYSWell, I think we all want to do the DNA kits as promptly and as well as possible. And I'm not at all implying that you all don't want those. I'm just saying I think there are a lot of provisions that are sort of extraneous, I think, that the due process is often eroded for guys because we think, you know, it's a sexist crime. And so I, you know, I really -- and I think due process is eroded when you have a tribal court trying an outsider.
HAYSI just -- I think there is a possibility that you're not going to get justice if you go on a tribal land and you're accused of something. I think it's better to get it in a separate court.
BENDAVIDWell, I do want to say that I think there are two perspectives coming from the right, for lack of a better term. There are people who just think this is not properly a federal concern, that this is really a state-level concern.
BENDAVIDI think that's what Charlotte was saying.
BENDAVIDBut where the bulk of Republicans and Congress are is not there. Some are, but a lot of them are saying, yes, we need the Violence Against Women Act. We've supported it in the past. We just think that this one has a little bit of overreach. And when it targets these specific groups, it's going too far in doing things that aren't necessary. So I think that distinction needs to be made.
O'NEILLHonestly, I think you're right, Naftali. But what I hear when I hear that argument is that some victims are simply too inconvenient for the United States of America to care about, and I just don't think that we're that kind of country. We do care about women on reservations who are subjected to sexual assault by non-tribal members. We do care about immigrant women whose abusers very often are their employers, right?
O'NEILLSo that's a -- that already is a different situation from other women escaping domestic violence. You have women who come here to work in the home of people and their sponsor is their employer. The sponsor has the direct relationship with the federal government in terms of pushing their immigration papers through. And so you have special needs. Those women are entitled to the same care and compassion as other women under the Violence Against Women Act.
REHMTerry O'Neill of the National Organization for Women. Short break. We'll be right back.
REHMAnd we're talking this hour about the Violence Against Women Act, which was passed last Thursday by the Senate. It now goes to the House. We've got a number of emails and tweets. One listener tweets, "The Cantor-Adams bill is not the Violence Against Women Act because it does not protect all victims and survivors. We need a House bill that protects all from violence." What does that mean, Naftali?
BENDAVIDWell, I assume that he's talking about the same -- this emailer is talking about the same provisions that we've been talking about, and certainly argument among proponents of the act is that these women are very vulnerable and that the House bill would not protect them. I mean, again, in fairness to the Republicans, they say that, you know, for example, this provision that has to do with illegal immigrants.
BENDAVIDI mean, they say that there are already 10,000 visas a year going to these women, and they're very concerned about abuse and about fraud. We've heard the discussion about Native American women. But I think when you hear that, that not all women are being protected, that's what it's referring to.
REHMJohn emails. He says, "There's a crisis of domestic and sexual violence on many American Indian reservations. Amnesty International, in its 2007 report Maze of Justice, (sic) cited a Department of Justice report finding more than one in three American Indian and Alaskan Native women will be raped in their lifetime. More than two in five will suffer domestic violence. How would anyone oppose protecting the most attacked and vulnerable segment of our nation's population?" Charlotte.
HAYSWell, nobody would propose not helping this segment of our population. We are all absolutely against any kind of violence against any woman, and we're against violence against women on reservations. What I am saying is you don't have to change the tribal court system to deal with this. And I think it, you know, we have to be concerned about the rights of the accused. We don't consider them guilty until after they have been through a trial, and I don't think the tribal court is the appropriate venue unless they're both members of the tribe.
REHMGo ahead, Naftali.
BENDAVIDYeah, the argument that I've heard on the part of Republicans is when we're prosecuted by, let's say, a state prosecutor, we get to vote for the state government. We vote for the governor. We vote for the legislator -- legislature. We vote for the government that sets up the jails, the prisons, the court system, the prosecutors that then come after us if we're accused of something, and that because non-Native men are not part of that, they don't take part in helping set up the tribal government, therefore, there's a constitutional question. That's the Republican argument.
O'NEILLSo the jurisdiction in the Violence Against Women Act actually is quite limited. It is contingent on the tribal courts giving the same constitutional rights. That's number one. And, number two, the perpetrator -- the alleged perpetrator must have a sufficient relationship with the tribe in order for jurisdiction to attach.
O'NEILLSo it has those two limitations on specifically for protections. And, you know, this is where political compromise comes into play. If we are worried about -- I think that the act itself takes account of those concerns about tribal jurisdiction. We had a vote. To her credit, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who offered a bill that we found -- our side thought was very, very inadequate. Her substitute amendment failed, and she voted for the Violence Against Women Act.
REHMInteresting. Tell me about the cutback to 2,000 levels.
O'NEILLIt amounts to a 17 percent cutback in authorization for funding for the Violence Against Women Act, and we supported this act, although that really hurt. The Violence Against Women Act has never been fully funded, and we have -- the National Organization for Women has pushed for more funding -- expanded funding to keep women safe and to hold perpetrators accountable. So going back 17 percent is really, really tough.
REHMWhat programs might it affect?
O'NEILLThere are a number of programs that have been consolidated, and some have gone from, say, $20 million to $18 million. I mean, so all of the programs under the Violence Against Women Act have been affected. The effort was made this time to consolidate programs, cutting down some administrative costs if you put them together. And I think there were some very creative things that were done.
O'NEILLFor example, some of the money for STOP Grants -- and that's really one of the most basic programs funded by the Violence against Women Act. That's training for police and prosecutors and courts in basic domestic violence knowledge. Some of that money now is going to go to family court, to provide training for mediators and judges and so forth and family court to really understand the dynamics of domestic violence and how that plays into custody issues.
REHMBut, in a sense, isn't everything being cut financially, Naftali?
BENDAVIDYeah, and I think that that's exactly why this was done, is that there was a recognition that we're in a certain financial climate right now. And so, from the get-go, they cut it by 17, 20 percent.
REHMBut, Charlotte, why do you think that the Senate bill is ideologically motivated?
HAYSWell, I think that the whole basis of the way that the Violence Against Women Act looks at women, as I said, it sort of, I think, has a view of sexual violence as related to sexism, as if all guys are sort of like the husband in "Thelma & Louise." And so it also doesn't really take into consideration that there's female-on-male violence. You know, it addresses half the problem. Studies have been done to show that men are often the victims of violence, and I don't think it really gets into that. And could I say one thing about the finances, Diane?
HAYSHeritage did a study, and it found -- one of the things it said is that we don't really know how the money is being spent because no one's ever done a large scale study to say whether or not the money is being spent effectively. And I think that's something that should be done.
O'NEILLActually, DOJ does audit these program...
HAYSI know it's audited.
O'NEILL...service providers. And we do have plenty of evidence that the money is being spent, where it's going.
REHMAnd what about Charlotte's point that this focuses too much on violence against women?
O'NEILLWell, one in five women will be raped in her lifetime. One in 71 men will be raped. The reality is -- and, yes, in fact, the Violence Against Women Act has always had -- the programs have always been non-discriminatory on the basis of gender.
REHMSo both men and women can seek help through these provisions?
O'NEILLAbsolutely. And that has been true. But what you see across the country and the reason that a federal law was needed was that for hundreds of years, we left it to the states, and it didn't work. Since the Violence Against Women Act was passed at the federal level, we now have much better understanding of domestic violence, much better understanding of intimate partner violence and far better means to handle it, and that was not happening when we left it to the states. I mean, that's just a fact.
O'NEILLThe fact is that men do experience domestic violence at far lower rates than women. And, in fact, quite a bit of the domestic violence or street violence, if you will, assaults, sexual assaults, I mean, and intimate assaults are perpetrated by men on them.
HAYSYou know, I always have to begin by saying I'm against violence against women. But let me just say the CDC sort of redefined what we consider rape, and so I think we're getting figures that are a lot -- lots, lots larger than we used to, and not because we're discovering more of the truth, but because there have been redefinitions. The definition of rape used to include it being a forcible rape.
HAYSAnd now, it doesn't include that. You can -- the two partners can get drunk. The woman can give consent. Now, bear in mind, I'm not advocating that young women go out, hook up, get drunk and say, this is hunky-dory. But I'm also saying that sometimes rape is defined in a way that it would not have been defined in the past and in a way that, I think, is too stringent.
O'NEILLThat the FBI's new definition of rape is vaginal...
HAYSBut that's what I'm talking about.
REHMHold on, hold on.
O'NEILLYeah, vaginal penetration, however slight, without consent. So, if there is no consent, it's rape. And that, we think, has long been the appropriate definition of rape. The FBI has finally come around to this definition that we celebrated when they did that.
REHMAnd, of course, Naftali, there are complaints about this bill from the left as well as from the right.
BENDAVIDWell, there's always -- yes, there's the concern that it doesn't go far enough, that it's underfunded, that it's really -- I mean, this is a good effort but, you there's always going to be more to be done, and this really is only a sort of minimal effort to take care of what's really a huge problem. That's the argument from the Republican.
REHMAnd how do you see the scope of compromise between the Senate version and what happens in the House?
BENDAVIDI actually think there is going to be a compromise. I think, unlike a lot of things this year where we haven't been able to get to a compromise, this is something where, first of all, both sides will tell you that 85 percent of the bill are the same, so there's a lot of underlying agreement. But I think even more important is a political imperative here. Nobody wants to really be against the Violence Against Women Act.
BENDAVIDRepublicans, I think, are playing defense on this a little bit, to tell you the truth, because they've been cast as being engaged in a war on women, something that they -- frustrates them a lot. They're not going to want to stand in the way. My sense is the House will pass something in a few weeks, then the two sides will come together and they'll work something out.
REHMWhat do you think, Terry?
O'NEILLMarco Rubio is a name that is frequently put out as possibly being a vice presidential candidate. He voted against Violence Against Women Act. Of course, they're on the defensive. If they don't want to be on the defensive, they need to start supporting policies that support women. It's pretty simple.
REHMHow do you see it, Charlotte?
HAYSWell, I would say that Republicans do support policies that support women, but they are on the defensive because of this allegation of a war on women. And, yes, there will be some kind of compromise bill that will come out. I agree with Naftali.
REHMWhat about the question of violence against transgender individuals, Charlotte?
HAYSWell, I'm just as -- we're just as concerned about that. Now, I think that if we're going to have a violence against women bill, leave that in because they're a vulnerable population, just like anybody else.
REHMDo you see that as well, Terry?
O'NEILLSure. The Violence Against -- the -- this version of the Violence Against Women Act has a uniform nondiscrimination clause to make it very clear that throughout the act and all of the programs that are funded by the act, there should be no discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation or disability. And that's made uniform. Absolutely.
O'NEILLI think that will stay in. I do hope that there will be a compromise. But I have to tell you, leaving some women out is not our view of what a compromise is.
REHMAnd who might those women be?
O'NEILLSo the three underserved populations that were identified. Beginning in -- when the 2005 Reauthorization Act was done, the agencies, my understanding, they were told, start finding facts. Start developing evidence. Who is being well served? Who is not being well served? We know that the LGBT community -- the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community -- is underserved.
O'NEILLWe know that immigrant women are underserved. We know that women on reservations are underserved. Any so-called compromise that leaves those women behind is really, I think, not being true to the core values of the Violence Against Women Act.
REHMAnd you -- we talked about women on reservations, but how is the LGBT community being underserved?
O'NEILLSo the evidence that we have right now is that, actually, intimate partner violence, rates of intimate partner violence in same-sex relationships are roughly the same as rates of intimate partner violence in heterosexual relationships. But 80 percent of LGBT victims report not receiving services that they need versus something like 20 to 30 percent of heterosexual victims. So, clearly -- this is what I say.
O'NEILLIt's never been adequately funded. There's a lot of people that go without services, but you see this disproportionate inability to access services in the LGBT community.
REHMAll right. And you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." We're going to open the phones now, 800-433-8850. First to Dallas, Texas. Good morning, Jane. You're on the air.
JANEGood morning. I'm very glad for this topic. I wanted to bring up a couple of points. I'm a social worker who's worked with the gay and lesbian community and also persons with disability. And I think we need to address the attitudinal barriers, as well as the architectural barriers, for both communities. And I also want to include senior citizens that are also -- have a vulnerability to violence and sexual abuse, too, although they tend to fall under the adult protective services programs.
JANEBut in my work dealing with the LGBT community and persons with disability, I have had real difficulties in finding safe harbor, women shelters, housing because of the attitudinal barriers. And I've also had, you know, blind women be denied housing because the house that they might go to had stairs. And they -- and I've been flatly told, well, they can't handle the stairs, even though they're totally ambulatory.
O'NEILLThat's the attitudinal problem, and this is exactly why we need the law to focus some services and to make clear to service providers that they've got to be completely nondiscriminatory on the basis of disability and/or sexual orientation. That requires some education. It requires, I think, both attitudinal and architectural changes in providing services. The goal here is to provide services so that those who are traumatized by violence can recover and so that the perpetrators can be held accountable.
REHMAll right. To St. Louis, Mo. Good morning, Candy.
CANDYHi. Good morning, and thank you very much for taking my call.
CANDYI'm a native Missourian, mostly white woman of Osage ancestry. And I've been working for the past 12 years during the summer on an Indian reservation, where I was raped by a white man and the victim of domestic violence there. And he, the perpetrator, had me totally convinced that because we were in an isolated area on the Indian reservation and the tribe did not have any jurisdiction over him, I very much felt that I had nowhere to turn.
CANDYAnd I know that happens to many, many native women and, you know, also women of other ethnicities. Native American Indian actually is the only ethnic group where the majority of the perpetrators of domestic violence are by members of other ethnic groups, not of their own ethnic group. Native America did not have nearly -- they -- hardly any violence against women at all traditionally because their traditions of respect towards women were so great.
CANDYAnd I know that American Indian women are targeted for sexual assault by outsiders. I know that they're targeted for human trafficking. The Minnesota American Indians group just did an excellent study on this.
REHMAll right. Thank you. Charlotte, do you have a comment?
HAYSWell, that sounds like just a horrible experience, and I'm very sorry. But I'm not in favor of changing the court system. And I would hope you could get justice, and I would think you can through a regular court system.
BENDAVIDWell, I think one of the challenges that people on both sides bring up is that, often, native reservations can be isolated. In other words, they're very far from federal authorities. They can be hundreds of miles away. And I think that's the problem that we're wrestling here. It's not like being in another situation where you're perhaps closer to people that can help you out.
REHMAnd you can turn to someone for help. Naftali Bendavid of The Wall Street Journal, Terry O'Neill of the National Organization for Women, Charlotte Hays of the Independent Women's Forum. Short break. More of your calls when we come back.
REHMAnd we're back. We'll go right to the phones as we talk about domestic violence, a bill that has just passed the Senate, now goes to the House with some revisions. Let's go first to James in Central Florida. Good morning, you're on the air.
JAMESGood morning. How are you this morning?
REHMFine. Thank you, sir. Go right ahead.
JAMESWell, you know, like she was saying there about accountability, you know, there needs to be accountability for women who falsely accuse men of domestic violence. The system is being overrun down here in the state of Florida, and that I can attest to as one of the reasons Marco Rubio voted against the bill.
REHMIs there any indication? Do we have any facts, any figures on whether false claims are being made, Naftali?
BENDAVIDWell, you know, I don't know the answer to that. I can tell you that in the debate that took place on the Senate floor, that was not an issue that was raised. That didn't...
BENDAVIDIt was -- no, it didn't seem to be. Of all the concerns that were raised by the opponents, that actually didn't seem to be one of them.
HAYSI don't have statistics, but there are a lot of fathers and sort of father's rights movement who say that women can use the fact that there's laxity of evidence -- it's a preponderance of evidence rather than due process. For example, you can get a restraining order with less evidence, unusual now. Believe me, I believe in restraining orders, and I wish they were enforced better because I know a lot of women are victims of violence because they aren't enforced.
HAYSBut, yeah, I think that men are not protected, and women -- there was piece in the New York Post that had the headline -- it was a violence against women editorial, and the headline was, "Let's call it the I lied and got him thrown in jail act."
O'NEILLThere just isn't any evidence that women are going around falsely accusing men of domestic violence. In fact, most women who experience domestic violence experience an enormous amount of embarrassment and shame. How did I get involved with this loser who gets his way by hitting me? And it is a very difficult thing for women to come forward and seek help to begin with. So the thought that there are people who are being falsely accused is it needs to be backed up by evidence, but, oops, there isn't any.
REHMTo Hampton, Va. Good morning, Aaron.
AARONGood morning. Yes, I'm calling because my -- I'm actually in the military, and at a previous duty station, my spouse was sexually assaulted by somebody that I work with. And the issue was investigated, but, ultimately, he pretty much just got a slap on the wrist, even though he admitted to what had happened. And I felt that everything that happened, of course, is extremely traumatic, but the legal process is just as traumatic because I felt like nobody really took her seriously.
AARONShe never got a chance to pretty much personally explain what -- her side of the story before the decision was made, and that she felt that she was investigated as severely as the perpetrator of what happened by the investigators.
REHMAaron, can you tell us to whom the abuse was reported?
AARONTo my chain of command within my unit, and they have a legal obligation to report it to the office of special investigations, which they did. And that was the group that investigated what happened.
REHMI'm so sorry about what happened to your wife. Terry, what about within the military?
O'NEILLThat is a very special problem. And, in fact, there are bills pending in Congress that would address that. The problem is that where you have to report it is to up the chain of command. What happens all too often to sexual assault victims in the military -- and this is for service women -- spouses of servicemen at least don't have to work alongside their attacker. But you often find that servicewomen end up having to continue working alongside their attacker because the chain of command has decided not to move forward.
REHMSo does this bill cover individuals either in the military themselves or the spouses of those serving in the military, Naftali?
BENDAVIDWell, this bill certainly covers the military to the extent that people are based in the United States and subject to the laws of our country. It doesn't make special provisions for them to my knowledge. And, you know, this issue of justice within the military is always a complicated one because there's sort of this parallel justice system that the military has. There are issues like something called undue command influence that doesn't really exist outside the military, and it tends to have all kinds of additional complications.
REHMThere's a whole question here about -- or lots of questions about federal versus state coverage. Kit has posted on Facebook saying, "Most people have no idea how domestic violence cases get charged and prosecuted in state court. In North Carolina, we have a charge used in domestic violence cases, misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon. That means a woman can be shot or stabbed by her abuser, and more often than not, he's charged at the misdemeanor level, so that's one of the huge differences. State court abuser walks." Is that true?
O'NEILLSure. And, in fact, the crime is a state crime. The Violence Against Women Act provides funding for services and for training and funding for law enforcement. But it -- but the crime itself is a state-level crime.
REHMSo do states treat it in a less severe way, Charlotte?
HAYSWell, you know, Diane, I don't know. But I'll say that if that's the way it's done in North Carolina, they needed the state level to make some changes, but I would not say necessarily at the federal level the Violence Against Women Act.
REHMAll right. To Monica here in Washington, D.C. You're on the air.
MONICAHi, Diane. Thanks for taking my call.
MONICAThanks for the show. Great -- a really important topic. I represent the National Network to End Domestic Violence, and in turn we represent the 56 state and territorial domestic violence coalitions across the country and their 2,000 member programs and the millions of victims that they serve every day of every year. You know, in just one day in 2011, we found that there were over 60,000 victims that sought services from domestic violence shelters but over 10,000 victims couldn't find services.
MONICAThat's why this kind of legislation is so essential. This field has been very involved in working on the bill that passed through the Senate with our support, and we're looking forward to the House also passing a bipartisan bill. We don't see this as political. We see this as modestly meeting the needs of victims across the country that are in dire situations at this point.
REHMMonica, thank you very much. Terry.
O'NEILLYeah. The NNEDV is a wonderful organization, and annually, they put out a study of just one day were the needs met, and yeah, it's at 10,000. Most recent studies, 10,000 calls went on needs -- expressions of need went unmet in one single day.
REHMAll right. To Plymouth, N.H. Good morning, Virginia.
VIRGINIAGood morning. Thank you for taking the call.
VIRGINIAI just wanted to point out that when they were speaking earlier about the fact that the definition of rape had to be changed, one of the things that wasn't mentioned is that there was a -- there is a much higher prevalence of drugging people so that they can't give consent or deny consent, and that, you know, one of the reasons they had to change that is that, you know, there are perpetrators out there that are taking consent away from a woman. And it doesn't have to be the she's just been drunk, she could just have one drink, and if they've put something in it, she doesn't have consent.
HAYSWell, absolutely, if you've put something in a drink, that's different from kids at a dance, they get drunk. I guess kids still go to dances. The girl has too much, and she does give consent. That's not rape in my book. And I think that the definition of rape has been changed so much that it is no longer forcible. Now, I don't believe that there should be penetration without consent, but I think that sometimes women do give consent, not condoning when they've had too much, and it's their lookout.
O'NEILLWell, I think that we can all agree that the real -- the core of sexual violence is consent. It is not getting hit. It is not being threatened with a gun. It is giving consent. And if there is not an expression of consent, it's rape.
REHMHow much drugging is going on in these situations? Do we have any idea, Terry?
O'NEILLOn college campuses, it's a real concern. One of the things -- we don't have enough studies. We don't have enough information, but clearly -- yeah, the date rape drug is well known on college campuses.
REHMNaftali, how big an issue could this whole thing become in the national political race?
BENDAVIDWell, I think it could become a big issue to the extent that Republicans are perceived as standing in the way of the Violence Against Women Act. I think that's one reason they're trying to be very careful not to be perceived that way. And it's very interesting, when the House Republicans rolled out their bill last week, there were 11 women Republican House members to introduce that bill. And the first one was Sandy Adams of Florida, who talked about how she had been in an abusive marriage for a long time.
BENDAVIDAnother one was Kristi Noem, one of the higher-ranking Republican women freshmen, and she talks about how her mother works in a domestic violence shelter back in her home state. So there was a real effort on the part of Republicans to say, we really do care about this stuff, because I think this is a danger zone for them.
BENDAVIDI think that because of all the discussions of contraception, of the Virginia ultrasound law, of abortion, they've been in a situation where Democrats lead them by huge amounts among women, and I think this is a dangerous area that they know is a dangerous area, and they're working to avoid it.
REHMWe invited both of those women onto the program. Unfortunately, they could not make it. Charlotte.
HAYSWell, you know, Diane, every time it's been my turn to speak, I've started off by saying I'm against violence against women. And I think that just the name of the bill puts Republicans in a bad place because any time you're going to be critical of it, somebody is going to say, oh, Senator, oh Congressman, are you in favor of violence against women? And I think what this bill has going forward is a great name.
HAYSAnd I think in some ways that great name has obscured discussion of the financial aspects and other aspects of it. So, you know, yeah, the Republicans are in a bind over this. They're going to be handpicked.
O'NEILLYeah, the Republicans really do need to be careful. And if they exclude underserved populations where there is evidence that they need these services, I think that the conclusion among women and among women voters is simply going to be that these are people who do not care about the welfare of women. One in three women will be assaulted in her lifetime. You know, look to your left, look to your right -- I myself am a survivor of domestic violence.
O'NEILLAnd we all know our sisters, we know friends, we have people -- if the Republicans -- those Republicans who insist on voting against this law simply because it recognizes the needs of women on reservations, and immigrant women, and the LGBT community or people are -- voters are simply going to conclude, yes, it's true. These people don't care about us.
BENDAVIDAnd I think that that's one reason that -- while I do think there'll be a compromise, I think that probably the Republicans are going to have to move on this more than the Democrats are because the political playing field landscape just -- it's very tough for Republicans to get out here and argue against this.
REHMMove how, Naftali?
BENDAVIDWell, in the sense that I think they're going to have to -- on these issues, we've talked about they may have to yield ground and see to the democratic position more than the other way around.
REHMLGBT, for example?
BENDAVIDFor example, the Native American issue possibly. I just think that's how the dynamic is.
REHMNaftali Bendavid, and you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Charlotte, you want to add something?
HAYSYes. I just want to say, Terry, it's not not caring about underserved populations. We don't want to change the court system on native lands. That's different from not caring.
O'NEILLIt's not different.
HAYSOh, yes, it is.
O'NEILLThe law itself makes a tribal court jurisdiction contingent on the availability of the same constitutional protections that are available in federal courts, so that is simply -- it does. That's a fact.
REHMDoesn't that -- wouldn't that satisfy you, Charlotte?
HAYSWell, I believe the accused has constitutional protections. And I think one of the real problems with the Violence Against Women Act, is it erodes -- it often erodes due process for the accused. And we, you know, we've got two people here, Diane, and I absolutely am against violence against women. But I am also for making sure that the accused always got a fair shake, and that would include the venue of being on a reservation where you're not a native and your court is.
REHMAnd what about violence against immigrants?
HAYSI'm absolutely against violence against immigrants. However, I'm not sure that this belongs in this bill. It includes a path to citizenship, and I think that's something that really needs to be discussed.
REHMAnd what about LGBT?
HAYSIf they're underserved, absolutely, I have no problem with that.
REHMIf they're underserved?
HAYSWell, I'm sure they are. So, yeah, let's include them.
HAYSIt may be different from some Republicans.
REHMOK. Let's go to Nashville, Tenn. Good morning, Candice.
CANDICEGood morning. Thank you for taking my call.
CANDICEMy part -- I've actually had to use the Violence Against Women Act. I'm a survivor of sexual violence but still a victim of stalking, and it's done from state to state. Do state laws for stalking vary so much that I've been in a different state and they didn't want to enforce my restraining order simply because it was from somewhere else? And I've had to pull out the federal laws to get them to try and enforce it because the laws are so varied, and no one seems to know what's going on from state to state.
REHMHow do you respond to that, Charlotte, concerning your worries about making this federal?
HAYSWell, two things. One, I think that restraining orders are often ineffective, and that's bad. And that's...
REHMEspecially from state to state.
HAYSEspecially from state to state, but I think that's bad. But I think one other problem, and I'm not saying this lady -- I'm totally sympathetic with her, but one other problem is restraining orders are often given out without enough proof that they're needed with violence against women. But I do think that, you know, we need more enforcement of restraining orders. They're often really ineffective.
O'NEILLFar too many victims are faced with a labyrinth of state processes and things that they should not have to be dealing with on their own. There should be in every community a place where anyone who is being stalked, who has been sexually assaulted, who has been subjected to intimate partner violence can go and be told, here, these are the services that the richest country in the world is making available to people who are victimized by this.
O'NEILLIn Montgomery County where I lived, we created a family justice center two or three years ago. The idea is to have a one-stop shopping for all the needs. If you're an immigrant, you have these kinds of services. If you have kids, you've got these kinds of services. You need food stamps? You have these kinds of services. Safe housing -- so that is -- that's the kind of model I think that we need in all communities.
O'NEILLYou only get that if, frankly, you vastly increase the funding for the Violence Against Women Act. If you make uniform federal laws that states will comply with, but the story that this woman, that the caller, told is all too common.
REHMTerry O'Neill, she is president of the National Organization for Women, Charlotte Hays is senior fellow at the Independent Women's Forum, Naftali Bendavid, national correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. When do you expect this to go to the House?
BENDAVIDIn about two weeks.
REHMTwo weeks? We'll know more. Thank you all.
HAYSThank you, Diane.
REHMAnd thanks for listening. I'm Diane Rehm.
Most Recent Shows
Party insiders and backroom deals: One author on why we need to bring back old-time politics.
With a now-likely U.K. exit from the EU, America’s relationship with a key intelligence and global trade ally will change. Please join us to discuss what the British vote means for the U.S. economy, the 2016 presidential campaign and global security.
Analysis of the Supreme Court's last decisions of the term and the impact of a vacant seat on the bench.