We've learned that if you cleverly craft a bill's title to include women, puppies, or kids, convincing members to vote against it will be as hard as getting a straight answer on Benghazi. And that's exactly what happened Thursday. The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) passed and anyone who wasn't paying attention is probably overjoyed that it sounds like Congress finally defended women.
The cold, hard reality, however, is that Congress just shoved a bad bill through its chamber and sold sex trafficking victims, and the groups that want to help them, down the river.
Sen. Patrick Leahy's (D-Vermont) amendment to this Senate version of VAWA absolutely obliterates the Trafficking in Persons office (TIP Office), seeks the decriminalization of prostitution for minors by wreaking havoc on language in the Model State Law, and tramples the conscience protections of groups like the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, that have a history of hands-on help for victims.
What an injustice. Thanks to Sen. Leahy's amendment, VAWA included a major hit to the office currently leading the United States' global engagement in the fight against human trafficking, the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking Persons (TIP Office), by cutting its funding by sixty four percent and paving the way for staffing numbers to drop like a rock.
And add insult to injury, VAWA promotes the decriminalization of prostitution of minors by prohibiting the charging of a minor for a prostitution offense. Pimps, traffickers, and gangs everywhere cheer wildly with a new opportunity to exploit minors in the sex industry by telling them that it's not illegal and they won't get arrested.
Do people really think this is a good idea? It worked just great for Germany, Australia, and the Netherlands, where child prostitution actually increased after prostitution was legalized. Brilliant move, folks.
Do Senators and Congressman even know what they just voted for by passing VAWA? The Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives provides final vote results. Click here to check and see how your congressman voted. (By the way, the correct vote was, "No.")