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I-VAWA: The Destruction of Families Worldwide - Why This Campaign?

Ignoring the objections of RADAR and 37 other organizations around the world,1 Sen. Joseph Biden introduced the International Violence Against Women Act in November 2007 (S. 2279).2 A few months later Rep. Howard Berman introduced a companion bill in the House of Representatives (H.R. 5927).

I-VAWA has an innocent-sounding name that belies a radical social agenda. Under the guise of curbing domestic violence, I-VAWA would in fact:

  1. Harm the family. Domestic violence laws serve to escalate conflict and destroy families by defining domestic violence overly broadly, inviting heavy-handed state intervention into minor conflict, and prohibiting couple counseling. Children who grow up in single-parent households are at far greater risk for child abuse and a wide range of social pathologies.3
  2. Impose ineffective and harmful programs on other countries. Recalling the image of the Ugly American, I-VAWA would openly work to "change social norms" and rework legal codes. I-VAWA would also promote the use of strategies that have proven ineffective4 and even harmful5 in stopping domestic violence, while violating the civil rights of the falsely accused (Section 300G).6
  3. Create a new federal "super-agency" that would control many aspects of U.S. foreign policy: I-VAWA would establish a new Office of Women's Global Initiatives (OWWGI) that would control all foreign domestic violence programs and funds in the Departments of State, Justice, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security (Section 300B). Since domestic violence is seen as linked to a broad range of social issues (economic development, literacy, etc.), the OWGI would have enormous power to influence U.S. foreign policy.
  4. Ignore the forms of violence that do not fit within I-VAWA's limited concept of domestic violence: It is estimated that each year, 500,000 unborn girls in India are subjected to sex-selective abortion, a moral travesty that also afflicts China and other countries.7,8 I-VAWA contains no mention of this form of violence. Nor does it address violence against men, who are twice as likely to die from violence-related causes as women.9
  5. Funnel millions of taxpayer money to ideologically-driven organizations. Senator Biden's press release states I-VAWA would provide "a new, dedicated funding stream of $175 million a year" plus an additional $5 million for the United Nations.10 The law would require at least 10% of program funds be awarded to women's nongovernmental organizations (Section 300H). Likely grant recipients include the N.O.W.-Legal Momentum, Family Violence Prevention Fund, and Amnesty International.

We urge you to contact your elected officials in Washington, D.C. and tell them that I-VAWA will be harmful to families, bad for children, and ineffective in curbing domestic violence.



1 Letter to Senators Joseph Biden and Richard Lugar, April 13, 2007. http://mediaradar.org/docs/RADARletter-to-Biden-and-Lugar-against_IVAWA.pdf

2 To see the bill, go to http://thomas.loc.gov and enter S. 2279 in the Search Bill Text box.

3 RADAR. A culture of false allegations: How VAWA harms families and children, 2006. (http://www.mediaradar.org/docs/RADARreport-VAWA-A-Culture-of-False-Allegations.pdf)

4 RADAR. Has VAWA delivered on its promises to women?: 2007. (http://www.mediaradar.org/docs/RADARreport-VAWA-A-Culture-of-False-Allegations.pdf)

5 RADAR. Why have domestic violence programs failed to stop partner abuse?, 2007. (http://www.mediaradar.org/docs/RADARreport-Why-DV-Programs-Fail-to-Stop-Abuse.pdf)

6 RADAR. Without restraint: The use and abuse of domestic restraining orders. 2006. (http://www.mediaradar.org/docs/RADARreport-VAWA-Restraining-Orders.pdf)

7 Jha P et al. Low male-to-female sex ratio of children born in India: national survey of 1.1 million households. Lancet 2006, 367(9506): 211-218.

8 East-West Center. Evidence mounts for sex-selective abortion in Asia. Honolulu, Hawaii. May-June, 1995.

9 World Health Organization. World Report on Violence and Health. Geneva, Switzerland, 2002.

10 Biden/Lugar introduce the International Violence Against Women Act. Press release. November 1, 2007.