Ending Violence Against Women a National Priority, Not a Political Bargaining Chip
Statement of NOW Executive Vice President Kim Gandy
October 5, 2000
Each day the Republican leadership of the U.S. Senate holds the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) hostage is another day that politicians are putting women's lives on the line. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott is turning this life-saving legislation into a political bargaining chip -- trying to load it down with things his cronies want -- some of which will actually harm women. The Senate must follow the House of Representatives' lead and pass VAWA without further delay and without attaching harmful amendments like the one Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-Conn.) is pushing, which would allocate millions of dollars for men's custody groups.
Just recently George W. Bush said he didn't even know what the Violence Against Women Act was -- so it shouldn’t surprise me that the Republican leadership doesn't think that stopping violence against women should be a national priority. But in a few days, tens of thousands of women and men will prove them wrong right here in Washington at the World March of Women 2000 on October 15. The World March of Women is unprecedented -- involving women from 157 countries calling for an end to poverty and violence against women -- and it will have an unprecedented impact when activists carry the enthusiasm and energy of this march back to their communities and to the polls in November.
Women and men from across the country and around the world are marching because violence against women and poverty are global epidemics; because many women and their children fall into poverty because she is fleeing an abusive relationship; because law enforcement agencies ignore cries for help and discount charges of sexual and domestic violence; because the U.S. Supreme Court decided that a woman does not have the right to sue her rapist in federal court.
And we are marching because the leadership of the U.S. Senate is holding up reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. Without funding from VAWA, we could lose the hundreds of shelters, hotlines and anti-violence programs. And without these programs, tens of thousands of women will have nowhere to turn in the aftermath of rape, sexual assault, or domestic violence. The Senators holding up passage of the Violence Against Women Act would do well to heed the call for justice from feminists around the world -- today and on October 15 at the World March of Women. If not, they will hear the sound of angry women marching to the polls in November
To apply for media credentials to the World March of Women 2000,
please call NOW's Media Relations Office at 202-628-8669, ext. 116.