Pittenger explains violence against women vote

Mar. 13, 2013 @ 11:16 AM

President Barack Obama signed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act into law last week. 

The new version of the law expands protections for women on reservations and tribal lands, undocumented immigrants and homosexuals. 

The House of Representatives drafted alternative legislation, different from the bill that was sent by the Senate. However, the alternative legislation did not pass and the Senate legislation is what was signed into law. 

U.S repreentatives Robert Pittenger, R-9, and Richard Hudson, R-8, voted for the House of Representatives bill, but did not vote for the Senate bill that was ultimately signed into law. 

“The house version, frankly...was strong in its protection, provided more help,” Pittenger said in an interview. 

He felt that the Senate version had “political games” in it. 

“I don’t support people who use a very important legislation to perpetuate their political agenda,” Pittenger said. “This is a very seriously concern (about) violence against women. I am very deeply committed to this.” 

Pittenger said the bill that passed prevents religious charities from participating in grant programs, eliminated funding for sheltering adult victims of sex trafficking and changes prostitution laws in a way that could make it easier for minors to be exploited in a statement released by his office. 

In the bill that was signed by Obama, “victim service provider” is defined as a non-profit, non-governmental, tribal organization or rape crisis center that assists or advocates for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence or stalking. The definition in the law specifies “faith-based organizations.” 

The law also states that faith-based organizations are eligible for grants aimed at preventing violence in youth and children and specifies organizations and faith-based leaders for other grant money. 

Pittenger said in an interview that the Senate bill “decriminalizes” prostitution among minors.

“Now you’re going to have people exploiting minors even more,” he said. 

Section 1243 of the Senate bill deals with a model state law for protecting victims and survivors of child trafficking.

The model includes a “safe harbor” provision that treats anyone under the age of 18 arrested for prostitution as a victims of a sever form of trafficking. Section 2B, found on page 271, of the model law prohibits charging the minor with prostitution and instead, under Section 2C requires the individual to be referred to appropriate service providers.

“It just wasn’t a good bill,” Pittenger said. He added that somebody used a good title to make a statement. 

“Unfortunately, today Congress chose not to approve the most effective version of the Violence Against Women Act, but this will not deter me from continuing to support efforts to protect women,” Pittenger said in a statement from his office. 

For Naomi Herndon, executive director of Turning Point, the bill signing was good news. 

“It’s wonderful that it passed,” Herndon said. 

The bill will not impact Turning Point positively or negatively at all. They provide housing and partner with Community Link. The organization was already providing services for undocumented immigrants and members of the gay community as well. 

“We were doing that any how,” Herndon said. “It makes no difference to us who anybody is...we will serve anybpdy who needs our services whether they’re here legally or not legally.”

The Violence Against Women Act was first passed into 1994 and has been authorized by Congress since. Herndon said a similar law existed before 1994 but “it had no teeth to it.” 

The bill allows funding for law enforcement and for the judicial system. 

“Because domestic violence is so nuanced...people have to wrap their mind around it before they know how to work with people in an appropriate and effective way,” Herndon said. 

The act allowed for the training to do a coordinated response. 

“Not that we’re there yet, but we’re a heck of a lot closer than we would have been without the Violence Against Women Act,” she said. 

In addition to the law, the discussion brought the issue to the forefront, she said. 

Rep. Hudson was not able to be reached before press time. Senators Kay Hagan, D-NC, and Richard Burr, R-NC, voted for the bill in the Senate.