Any man who is accused of domestic violence effectively loses a long list of constitutional rights accorded to ordinary criminals. These include due process, presumption that he is innocent until proven guilty, equal treatment under the law, right to a fair trial, right to confront his accusers, freedom of speech, right to privacy in family matters, custody or visitation with his own children, and even the right to bear arms.
The woman is provided with legal representation even though she has not presented any evidence of injury or harm. The man gets no such help.
About a fourth of divorces involve an allegation of domestic violence, which in many cases is false or without any evidence. Those allegations usually result in the issuance of restraining orders that the Illinois Bar Association has referred to as "part of the gamesmanship of divorce."
It's no surprise that VAWA is often referred to as the hate-men law. The attitude of many judges and prosecutors who have been trained by the feminists with VAWA funds was expressed by one New Jersey judge whose extravagant statement was even reported in the New Jersey Law Journal: "Your job is not to become concerned about all the constitutional rights of the man that you're violating as you grant a restraining order. Throw him out on the street, give him the clothes on his back, and tell him, 'See ya' around.'"
Judges are required to consider allegations of domestic violence in awarding child custody, even though no evidence of abuse is presented. This usually results in the complete severing of the child's relationship with his or her father.
VAWA should be completely revised to provide meaningful definitions of domestic violence that are specific enough to identify real victims, to stop the over-criminalization of minor partner discord, to emphasize counseling rather than incarceration, to assure that training programs for prosecutors and judges are objective, to assure accountability by tracking the large flow of taxpayers' money, to respect fathers' rights, to inspect shelters, to evaluate success and fairness, and to develop programs to address the common problem of mutual partner abuse.
If VAWA is not reformed to respect constitutional rights, it will turn out to be a major embarrassment to all members of Congress who vote for it.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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