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Violence Against Women Act needs to protect the most vulnerable

Somewhere in my car there is a folded-up piece of paper. It is a letter from my congressman, Chip Cravaack. I've been carrying it around to compare with the responses that other people have gotten when they contacted him about re-authorization of...

Linda Riddle, executive director of DAIP
The overall achievement award for the 2009 Touchstone Award went to Duluth's domestic abuse intervention programs, or DAIP. Linda Riddle, executive director of DAIP, received the award on the programs' behalf Tuesday. Bob King /rking@duluthnews.com

Somewhere in my car there is a folded-up piece of paper. It is a letter from my congressman, Chip Cravaack.

I've been carrying it around to compare with the responses that other people have gotten when they contacted him about re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). No one that I have talked with has actually gotten a response from him.

However, I did, and in the middle of his letter, he proudly says that the

version he voted for provides "protections for all victims."

That is patently, absolutely false. People need to know that the version he voted for strips protections for Native American women in tribal communities, for victims of same-sex violence and for immigrant and refugee women who are battered and sexually assaulted.

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"Protections for all victims" means legal protections and services are available for all people regardless of their race, their sexual orientation, where they were born or where the violence occurred.

The most marginalized and the most vulnerable members of our society are also the most at risk of multiple forms of violence and the least likely to find just responses.

Since 1994, VAWA has worked to change communities all over the country -- providing training and assistance for judges, prosecutors, law enforcement, and college campuses as well as for domestic violence and sexual assault organizations.

We really cannot afford to go backward on the issues of ending violence against women and their families.

VAWA's re-authorization will come back to the House of Representatives again; Rep. Cravaack will have another chance to do the right thing.

It is incumbent upon us as a caring community to demand that Rep. Cravaack be accountable to all of us, not just some of us, by supporting the Senate version of VAWA.

I urge everyone to contact the representative immediately.

Linda Riddle

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Duluth

(The writer is the executive director of Duluth's Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs)

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