Political Parties Address Violence Prevention

Issues relating to domestic and sexual violence took center stage at the Democratic National Convention in late August, highlighted by the selection of United States Senator Joseph Biden (DE) as his party’s vice presidential candidate. A longtime champion of measures to prevent violence against women, Senator Biden is an author of the bi-partisan Violence Against Women Act and a co-sponsor of the bi-partisan International Violence Against Women Act.

Senator Biden was nominated as the Democratic candidate for vice president on Wednesday, August 27, by Quincy Lucas, whose sister, Witney, was murdered by an ex-boyfriend. "Violence against women often happens in the shadows, out of public view," Lucas said. "I’ve devoted my life to bringing it into the light. But I can only speak so much. I realize that sometimes to change lives, you have to change the law."

"Joe Biden heard my story," she continued. "In 1994, he wrote the Violence Against Women Act, so every woman would have a place to turn for support. He's constantly making sure it has the funding it needs. And today, countless women get a second chance at life because of Joe Biden. So it is in memory of my sister and in the name of women all across this country, that I'm proud to place into nomination the name of Joe Biden to be our next vice president."

Then Senator Biden's son, Beau, who is Delaware's Attorney General, introduced his father, "When domestic violence was often a dark secret, Dad wrote the Violence Against Women Act, which gave countless women support, protection and a new chance at life," he said.

In the video distributed to supporters immediately after his selection, Senator Biden discussed his record in Congress and accomplishments, saying, "Most proudly, I wrote the Violence Against Women Act."

Party Platform

The Democratic Party Platform promises more funds for domestic violence and sexual assault programs, and to create a special advisor to the president on violence against women. It says, in part: "Ending violence against women must be a top priority. We will create a special advisor to the president regarding violence against women. We will increase funding to domestic violence and sexual assault prevention programs. We will strengthen sexual assault and domestic violence laws, support the Violence Against Women Act, and provide job security to survivors. Our foreign policy will be sensitive to issues of aggression against women around the world."

It also includes a vow to expand the Family and Medical Leave Act to "enable workers to take leave to care for an elderly parent, address domestic violence and sexual assault, or attend a parent-teacher conference."

Its reproductive health care plank includes a commitment to "end health insurance discrimination against contraception and provide compassionate care to rape victims."

Obama Pledges to Stop Gender Violence Abroad

Senator Obama's campaign website addresses violence against women in the international context: "The genocide in Darfur has had particularly devastating consequences for women. Tens of thousands of women have been killed, raped, and displaced since the conflict began in 2003. Barack Obama has been a leading voice in Washington urging the end of genocide in Sudan. He worked with Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) on the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act, a version of which was signed into law. Obama has traveled to the United Nations to meet with Sudanese officials and visited refugee camps on the Chad-Sudan border to raise international awareness of the ongoing humanitarian disaster there. He also worked with Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) to secure $20 million for the African Union peacekeeping mission."

Republican Platform Takes Strong Anti-Trafficking Stance

The 2008 Republican Platform supports stronger measures to end human trafficking. "Generations after the end of slavery in America, new forms of bondage have emerged to exploit men, women and children," it says. "We salute those across the political spectrum who have come together to end the commerce in our fellow human beings. We advocate the establishment of an Inter-Agency Task Force on Human Trafficking, reporting directly to the President, and call for increased diplomatic efforts with foreign governments that have been negligent toward this evil."

"The principle underlying our Megan’s Law, publicizing the identities of known offenders, should be extended to international travel in order to protect innocent children everywhere," it continues.

The Republican Platform also claims that faith-based organizations "tend to have a greater degree of success than others in dealing with problems such as substance abuse and domestic violence." It supports mandatory sentencing provisions for crimes including violent or sexual offenses against children and rape, urging that gang rape, child rape, and rape committed in the course of another felony "deserve, at the least, mandatory life imprisonment."

Read more about Quincy Lucas' work here.

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