When Anderson Cooper’s mother, the designer and heiress Gloria Vanderbilt, reached her 91st birthday, they began a correspondence, breaking a wall of silence between them. This 2016 conversation covered life in the spotlight, suicide, money, and grieving for a parent and a child. Vanderbilt Died in June at age 95.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has said re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act is one of her top priorities for the new year. The law provides police and other groups with money to help fight domestic violence and sexual assault. It’s been reauthorized every five years since it was first passed in 1994, but not last year. House Republicans objected to modifications which allowed for protections for gays and lesbians, Native Americans and immigrants. Please join us to discuss domestic violence, sexual assault and prospects for the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.
- Rep. Diana DeGette Democrat, U.S. Representative for Colorado's 1st Congressional District, serving since 1997, and a Chief Deputy Whip. The district is based in Denver.
- Phyllis Schlafly Founder and president, Eagle Forum
- Terry O'Neill President, National Organization for Women.
- Paulette Sullivan Moore National Network to End Domestic Violence
- Indira Lakshmanan Senior correspondent covering foreign policy for Bloomberg News.
- Juliet Macur Reporter, New York Times
MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. Congressional Democrats vow that on at least one issue, there will be action: the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act. The now-high profile rape allegations against two high school football players in Ohio is bringing new attention to the problems of sexual assault and domestic violence.
MS. DIANE REHMJoining me to talk about the issue: Terry O'Neill of the National Organization for Women, Indira Lakshmanan of Bloomberg News, Juliet Macur of The New York Times and by phone from Wilmington, Del., Paulette Sullivan Moore of the National Network to End Domestic Violence. I do invite you to be part of this program, a very serious issue. Call us on 800-433-8850. Send us your email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter. And good morning to all of you.
MS. TERRY O'NEILLGood morning, Diane.
MS. INDIRA LAKSHMANANGood morning.
MS. JULIET MACURGood morning.
REHMAnd first, before we begin our conversation here in the studio, we're joined by Congresswoman Diana DeGette. She represents Colorado's first congressional district. Good morning to you.
REP. DIANA DEGETTEGood morning, Diane.
REHMExplain what the Violence Against Women Act is actually intended to do.
DEGETTEWell, the Violence Against Women Act is a bill. We've had it on the books for nearly two decades, and Congress has repeatedly reauthorized it. What the purpose of it is to get resources to states to help protect against violence against women and also to raise awareness about these issues. It's been one of those efforts that has been tremendously successful in helping highlight issues of domestic violence and helping make -- helping reduce it.
DEGETTESince the Violence Against Women Act first became law, Diane, incidents of domestic violence have dropped more than 60 percent in this country. And the reporting rate of domestic violence has risen 51 percent.
REHMSo explain, if you would, why did its reauthorization fail last session?
DEGETTEWell, this is really crazy because, as I said, it's always been a bipartisan bill. What happened in the House was that the House Republican leadership really wanted to -- what they really wanted to do was to narrow the scope of the bill in many ways. And they -- for example, they didn't want to expand jurisdiction to tribal areas to protect -- to extend protection for American-Indian women.
DEGETTEAnd they also didn't want to put provisions in that would have helped some women who are maybe here on an undocumented status, who obviously are really preyed upon by people because they say that if these women report the domestic violence, that they'll now be deported. So those were two provisions that were very important to be in the legislation, and the House Republican leadership wouldn't allow it to happen.
DEGETTEThe Senate did pass a good bill. And so we are committed to passing that early in the 113th Congress.
REHMSo what are the prospects?
DEGETTEWell, I can't imagine why people wouldn't reauthorize a successful bipartisan piece of legislation like this, so I would hope that the prospects would be good. But, you know, I've been flummoxed by everything that's been happening with this group. And the failure to reauthorize VAWA is just one of those issues.
REHMIn the meantime, now, is there provisional funding?
DEGETTEI don't know the answer to that question. I bet you your panel does.
REHMWell, we'll find out about that soon enough. Tell me how soon you expect that the House would take up this measure on reauthorization.
DEGETTEI think members of both the House and Senate have made a strong commitment to reauthorizing this bill as quickly as possible. And we've been pressuring Speaker Boehner and the Republican leadership to make that happen. Vice President Biden and leader Eric Cantor were trying to work out a version of the act. And I know -- obviously, the vice president's working on some gun violence issues right now. But the leadership in Congress working on VAWA is really committed to try to pressure a vote to come up as soon as possible, January, February.
REHMAnd, right now, where would you say the strongest opposition is coming from?
DEGETTEIt seems to be coming from some of the portions of the Republican caucus in the House, people who don't want to see some of these expansions.
REHMAll right. Congresswoman Diana DeGette, she's a Democrat who represents Colorado's first congressional district. Thank you so much for joining us.
DEGETTEThank you so much, Diane. Take care.
REHMThank you. And we're joined now by phone by Phyllis Schlafly. She's founder and president of the Eagle Forum. Good morning to you.
MS. PHYLLIS SCHLAFLYHello, Diane. Good to join you.
REHMThank you. I know, Phyllis, that you object to re-authorization of this law. Tell us why.
SCHLAFLYWell, this act has been in existence for many years, as the previous speaker said, and it does seem that we should have a hearing in the House and hear pro and con to -- we'd like to know how our money is being spent and whether it is really doing any good. So I think it didn't do that. They -- the feminists just seem to believe we should just say OK and pass it on through. But there are a lot of questions that are being asked.
SCHLAFLYFor example, why don't they have programs to deal with substance abuse, which is one of the major causes of domestic violence? And why don't they -- why is it that it is so sex-discriminatory? In other words, it only deals with men harassing women. It doesn't -- although we know that in about half the cases, any type of so-called violence is initiated by the woman. And so there are many things that would come out in a hearing that we need to know before we expend this extraordinary amount of money. And the House did pass a bill, which is pretty good. They could go with that.
REHMSo from your perspective, it really is all about money.
SCHLAFLYWell, it's a tremendous amount of money. And the questions is, is the money doing any good? And so we don't know that. We need to have a hearing and have experts come and testify pro and con. But, you know, the title of it, Violence Against Women, what's wrong with dealing with violence against men?
REHMActually, I think the legislation does include violence against men as well.
SCHLAFLYWell, the title -- of course, the title is very discriminatory. And I believe...
REHMWell, the title may be.
SCHLAFLYThey use some of their money to lobby the states to have laws that they like. For example, they have lobbied the states to put through this mandatory arrest law. When the policeman comes out to an incident, he is duty-bound, legally bound to arrest somebody. So guess who he addresses when he doesn't really know what happened before he got there.
REHMTell me how big a problem you actually believe domestic violence and sexual assaults are in this country.
SCHLAFLYOf course, it exists. Is that your question? Of course, it exists.
REHMNo. I'm just wondering how large a problem you believe it to be.
SCHLAFLYWell, a lot of that depends on how you define it. And the feminists have continued to redefine it, so it may just include some insults, some words. It doesn't have to be physical. In fact, they brag that domestic violence does not have to be physical. And as far as talking about India, you know, the real violence against women are these sex-selection abortions. And they had a bill in the House to try to abolish that in this country, which the feminists voted against. But that is real violence against women.
REHMWhat do you think we could or should be doing to better help victims and to ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice?
SCHLAFLYWell, I think the best thing would be to inaugurate a substance abuse program to deal with that problem and abandon the idea that the only solution is divorce and putting a restraining order on the man because there are a lot of -- now that they have so vastly defined domestic violence to mean what you might say, there are a lot of times where the wife doesn't want to prosecute.
SCHLAFLYShe -- they want to -- she wants to repair the marriage. But the violence-against-women places that they bring them into don't seem to allow for that. They want to get rid of the man and punish him and break up the marriage.
REHMAnd finally, Phyllis, I'd be interested in your reaction to, as you mentioned, the individual case that occurred in India where a young woman died after being brutally assaulted.
SCHLAFLYWell, I don't think women in America are treated like women in India. That was a terrible case. But just remember, that is a country that approves the sex-selection abortions, and that's real violence against women.
REHMSo from your point of view, you'd prefer to concentrate on sex selection, drug abuse and maintaining a marriage.
SCHLAFLYWell, I think we ought to have a hearing where we hear pro and con witnesses and people who have made studies of these, and they know what is causing it and whether it's caused by both men and women and what are some good solutions. We need to have a study of this...
SCHLAFLY...and not just an automatic rubber-stamping of approval.
REHMPhyllis Schlafly, founder and president of the Eagle Forum, thanks for joining us.
SCHLAFLYThank you, Diane. Love your show.
REHMAnd as we continue our discussion against the women -- the Violence Against Women Act with three -- four people, actually, here in the studio: Terry O'Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, Indira Lakshmanan of Bloomberg News, Juliet Macur of The New York Times, and joining us by phone from Delaware, Paulette Sullivan Moore of the National Network to End Domestic Violence. Juliet Macur, turning to you, talk about this rape case or alleged rape case in Steubenville, Ohio. A video associated with that has now gone viral.
MACURExactly. The interesting thing about this case is initially, the alleged rape victim didn't even know she was raped several days after the party where she was allegedly sexually assaulted and raped over many hours, actually, by at least two different people. Three days later, her parents had seen videos and Twitter messages online that were sent to her, actually, by a relative.
MACURAnd they immediately brought her to the hospital. She had a checkup there, and then they went to the police department later, gave them a thumb drive of all these things that they had seen on the Internet. And that's how the girl had found out that she might have been raped.
REHMSo now there is a trial scheduled for February?
MACURYes. There's a trial scheduled for Feb. 13. Two high school football players were charged with rape and initially charged with kidnapping. That was dropped. And it's become really -- it has -- it blown up to be so big because most of the evidence in the case or the alleged evidence in the case or even things that are probably just rumors have been posted online.
MACURThis video that you mentioned, that was a 12-minute video that showed a former high school baseball player, I'm sorry, from Steubenville High School just going off for 12 minutes talking about how the girl looked like a dead body and saying how raped she was and just things that I probably should not repeat on the radio. So it was really, really pretty a shocking -- pretty much a shocking case for everybody involved.
REHMTerry O'Neill, these allegations are getting national attention. There is also a case involving football players at Notre Dame?
O'NEILLRight. Right. And the good news is that it's getting national attention. The bad news is that it's happening all over the country at rates that are still too high. The Violence Against Women Act has done an extraordinarily good job at doing three things, really: one, bringing down the incidents of intimate partner violence. Congresswoman DeGette mentioned over 60 percent drop since the Violence Against Women Act was passed.
O'NEILLAlso, there's been a 30 percent reduction in lethality of domestic violence incidents since the act was passed. So that's a good thing. And there's a much higher incidence of reporting. So the Violence Against Women Act has created a space, if you will, for survivors of this kind of violence to get services and the kind of support that they need. And it's -- in many agencies, you'll hear them talking about the coordinated community response. That's what's really necessary.
REHMYou heard Phyllis Schlafly say that what's needed are extended hearings on this issue. What's your reaction to that?
O'NEILLI don't know that we need extended hearings. The Department of Justice has repeatedly reported on the Violence Against Women Act. The agencies that are implementing the services as well as the prosecutions of perpetrators are constantly reporting. Certainly, you'll always have hearings when a bill is introduced in Congress. So presumably, that could happen at the committee level. But the -- I think that what Ms. Schlafly was saying was that we just don't really know that there exist violence against women. That's clearly not the case.
O'NEILLAnd we don't need to have that conversation. The conversation, I think, we really need to have is, why are we not providing more funding? Here's an interesting statistic that came out in 112th Congress when we were trying to pass the reauthorization of the law, that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender victims reported not being able to access services at a rate of 80 percent compared with 20 to 30 percent of heterosexual victims not being able to access services. Why are all these people not getting services? It's because the programs are all good but underfunded.
REHMAnd turning to you, Paulette Sullivan Moore, tell us about statistics nationally regarding sexual assault and domestic violence.
MS. PAULETTE SULLIVAN MOOREThere are a number of really great studies that the government has instituted. One of the recent ones is the Center of Disease Control study which indicates -- which tells us that one in six women in this country are stalked during the course of their lifetime. One in five women have been raped in the course of their lifetime. One in 71 men have been raped in the course of their lifetime. One in every four women is a victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in this country.
MS. PAULETTE SULLIVAN MOORESo I know that Ms. Schlafly referred to things not happening here in the United States. Unfortunately, they do. And in terms of services, Ms. Macur was exactly correct in that we just simply don't have enough funding for the need that's out there. Every year, the National Network to End Domestic Violence does a 24-hour snapshot. Every year, that snapshot shows in one 24-hour period in this country, nine to 10,000 people needing domestic violent services, reaching out for services and having to be turned away because the services are not there, because the dollars are not there.
REHMI wonder whether you would agree with Phyllis Schlafly that perhaps the name of the act needs to be changed.
MOOREWell, not at all. When we identify problems in this country, we tend to include in the identification of the problem the name of the problem. So if we're looking at cancer research or looking at a problem with cancer or looking at a problem with another health care matter, we refer to the item by the terms of where the need is. And we know that it is true that men are also victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. We also know that most of the victims of domestic violence and sexual assault are, in fact, women. So you name what the need is.
MOOREAnd our country hasn't, you know, that's why the name is there. Otherwise, we wouldn't know what we were looking for or looking at.
REHMAll right. And turning to you, Indira Lakshmanan, on the case in India, where a young woman dies after being totally, brutally assaulted on the bus, what's the latest there? This young woman died after being thrown off the bus. She was with a young man on the bus when all this began.
LAKSHMANANYeah. The case is horrific, and I think many of your listeners will have already heard about this. The woman and her friend were picked up by a bus just on their way home after seeing a movie on an ordinary evening in the middle of December. And she was not only brutally raped. She was also -- her insides were attacked with an iron rod, and her intestines were -- she was essentially disemboweled, and they were left naked and bleeding at the side of the road.
LAKSHMANANAnd so within two weeks, she was dead, even though they had transferred her to a hospital in Singapore to try to save her life. So her friend has spoken out, although his identity has been protected. He's spoken at the media and retraced what happened to them on that last day. This young woman was physiotherapy student. She was trying to be the first one in her family to have a college education and to have a professional career. She was a child of laborers.
LAKSHMANANAnd that brings up one point of this, which is that in India and in many parts of the world, a lot of these rape cases are often perpetrated against women from lower ranks of society. And particularly in India, there is a real problem of corruption within the police, within the legal system. And a lot of high caste or wealthy perpetrators even to this day still get away with these crimes, while low caste and poor perpetrators do not.
LAKSHMANANAnd, you know, there are Bollywood movie stars who are still making movies, who have engaged in crimes, which many people saw. There is one in particular who drove his car into a bakery in 2002 and killed one person and injured others. And he's still making movies and has not been brought to trial. So there are so many levels of this problem, from the harassment and the misogyny.
LAKSHMANANAnd Phyllis Schlafly made a point about female infanticide and gender selection, but one thing where she's wrong is that the government does not approve of this. The government has actually banned sonograms that would allow you to see the gender of the unborn child because they don't want people to continue participating in these gender-, you know, related abortions.
REHMHave the individuals involved in the rape been arrested?
LAKSHMANANWell, apparently, yes. Five adults and one juvenile are being held in custody. They've appeared in court with masks over their faces. This, you know, case is so high profile and caused this, you know, this outpouring of thousands and thousands of people on the street, so much so that they've actually fast-tracked this particular case. So, you know, when people ask me -- I was in India when this case happened and was there still when she died.
LAKSHMANANAnd when people ask me, well, is this case going to change the problem of rape in India or South Asia or the entire region, I say, well, it's certainly brought attention to this case, and I believe that this case will be fast-tracked. But there are so many other underlying problems, as I said, from misogyny and, you know, unequal treatment of women. And a lot of this, you know, also their economic roots, idle young men...
LAKSHMANAN...who don't have jobs, and they're resentful against women who are coming up, educating themselves, so-called talking back, standing up for their own rights. I mean, what is striking to me is I read a report in the Indian press that there have been 64 rape cases reported in New Delhi in the 17 days since this young woman, you know, since Dec. 17, and that's stunning.
REHMIndira Lakshmanan of Bloomberg News. Juliet Macur, turning back to you, it was social media that really made the difference in the Ohio case, but there are so many cases we don't know about.
MS. JULIA MACURYes. That's what -- that's what's important to know here is that this case would not even have been reported in the first place if a couple of football players didn't think it was funny to put things online, saying that the song of the night is definitely "Rape Me" by Nirvana and pictures. They had one picture of the girl who looked obviously unconscious.
MACURShe was being held by her wrists and her ankles by the two football players who are eventually charged with the rape. If none of that was online, this would never would have been known at all. This would have been swept under the rug like so many other rape cases are. And this is a very small town. Steubenville is a basically a decaying steel town where they have lost population.
REHMBig football town.
MACURWell, they have lost population because of the steel mills closing down, and the only thing they have going for them right now, some people might say, is the football team. They've won nine state championships. They've been in existence since 1900. Everyone goes there to see the games on Friday night.
REHMSo is there resistance to having this case publicized, having it go forward?
MACURThe town is actually divided. There's a lot of people who are supporting the football team, saying the girl is actually just trying to bring the football team down, that she's lied because she is promiscuous. It's the same thing we've --we've heard a lot of different rape cases. The girl wanted it, and she's just decided to take the town's football team down with her.
REHMJulia Macur, reporter for The New York Times, and you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." We have many callers. I want to open the phones, 800-433-8850. First to Nelly in Houston, Texas. Good morning. You're on the air.
NELLYGood morning, Ms. Rehm.
NELLYHi. I just -- first, I wanted to say that I listen to your show regularly. One of the things that I really like about your show is that, no matter how ludicrous the things that your guests might be saying, you are unfailingly polite and respectful, which is...
NELLY...something pretty rare in...
NELLY…in politically-oriented programming. The question I have is I was just floored when I heard Phyllis Schlafly on your radio show. The woman was a dinosaur 30 years ago. I didn't know she was still alive.
REHMI don't think we ought to be using ad hominem remarks here. Let me...
NELLYYou are right. You are right.
REHMLet me have your comment.
NELLYThe question I have was, did you have trouble finding women who were willing to speak against this bill when you were looking for somebody to present an opposing view?
REHMI think that producer Sandra Pinkard looked and talked with a huge number of people before she did find someone who was willing to speak out against it. And she talked to a number of offices in Congress, offices of Republicans, offices of Democrats. You found very few people willing to speak out against it, but they are against it, aren't they, Terry?
O'NEILLSure. This is a real problem. It's going to be a big problem in the 113th Congress, and Bobby Jindal, who has national aspirations -- he's the governor of Louisiana -- made it very clear at the Republican Governors Association, shortly after the November elections. What he said was, we don't need to change our message, by which he meant our agenda.
O'NEILLWe need to change the way we talk about it. So that, in fact, it's not surprising to me that Republicans on the Hill don't want to talk about this. But Eric Cantor is nonetheless a huge stumbling block, and he is a major leader in the Republican Party. And if he gets his way, we'll have a hard time.
REHMAll right. Hope that answers it, Nelly. Let's go to Long Island, N.Y. Good morning, Howard.
HOWARDHi. How are you?
HOWARDYes. I'd like to address the comment made by Ms. O'Neill, that, you know, she's saying that, well, it's, you know, as far as helping men -- male victims, that is basically a majority of the time that women are the victims. In the CDC report that she cites, it does say one in four women and one in three men -- I'm sorry, one in three women and one in four men are victims of stalking, rape and physical violence.
HOWARDThe -- if you look at the numbers in the report, 53 percent of the victims of physical violence are men. Forty-two percent of the victims of severe domestic physical violence are men. If it's so -- almost equal, why are we spending zero on reducing violence by women against men?
REHMTerry, are those numbers correct or otherwise?
MOOREThat was actually my question...
REHMGo ahead, Paulette, very quickly.
MOOREYes. The gentleman is correct in that the CDC does report that, as I said, men are also victims of domestic violence. They are not predominantly the victims. The other part of the CDC report that was not completed is who the perpetrators of the violence are. And what we know is -- so the perpetrators are men...
REHMAll right. We'll -- we're going to have to come back to that in just one moment after a short break.
REHMAnd welcome back. Just before the break, I know Paulette was trying to get in some factual numbers about domestic violence. Terry, why don't you finish that?
O'NEILLSure. I think it's very important to understand that men do the vast majority of the perpetration of cases of violence. And also, intimate partner violence is much more prevalent against women than against men. Just one statistic: one in five women are raped, one in 71 men are raped, 5.2 million women in a particular year were stalked against 1.4 million men stalked.
O'NEILLThe -- clearly, the Violence Against Women Act programs are available to men and -- but the incidence is much more severe against women. And part of that has to do with women's position in society, with more vulnerability, more economic vulnerability, and in some communities, allowing privilege to trump justice like Steubenville, like the recent case in Notre Dame, like Penn State.
O'NEILLWhen we have a culture that elevates -- and I think it's the same thing. It's analogous as what happens in India. You have a higher so-called cast or group or more privileged element that decides it can victimize vulnerable people within a community. That is happening by privileged men against women in this country at near epidemic proportions, and that's what the Violence Against Women Act is aimed at.
REHMAll right. To Louisville, Ky. Hi there, Russ.
RUSSGood morning, Diane.
RUSSThanks for having me on. I just wanted to -- I run an organization in Louisville that focuses on developing men to speak out and work against violence against women.
RUSSAnd I just want to say, first of all, thank you to the women speakers that you have for your tireless effort, especially over the past two years, to support the Violence Against Women Act and say how -- again, reiterate how important the Violence Against Women Act has been, not only in terms of providing services, resources for many have been victimized, but also -- and just as importantly -- in supporting the work of organizations like mine, MensWork, and other brother organizations around this country who are working to get men involved in preventing violence against women.
RUSSWithout the Violence Against Women Act, none of this would be happening or it would be happening to a much lesser degree. And I think in terms of the case in India, that's a prime example. There is active male involvement in speaking out against that rape-murder case and the other rape-murders that occur in India, much more so than in this country.
REHMThanks for calling. How about that, Indira? Are you seeing a great many men in the street protesting this horrific case?
LAKSHMANANOne of the things that was heartening to a lot of observers of this case was that in the first days after the attack was reported and publicized that the initial protest were very organic and that there were men and women who came out together. Part of the anger was also was against what was perceived as the government's completely tone-deaf response to the attack and that, you know, not only with the police accusing the victim, as they have in so many cases, of dressing provocatively or this or that.
LAKSHMANANI mean, what's interesting is just recently -- I mean, just yesterday, I looked at the Press Trust of India, one of -- an Indian wire service, and saw six different reports to do with rapes yesterday that were nothing to do with this case. And one of the cases was about the police now finally charging. So in the aftermath of the outrage about this case, you're seeing now some reaction to other cases that have been languishing in the courts.
LAKSHMANANAnd one was they're ready to finally charge a young man. And, get this -- this is interesting -- he had, over the period of months, repeatedly raped a young woman in his village and had promised he was going to marry her. So now he's going to be prosecuted not for the rape but for failing to marry her. So think a little bit about that.
REHMYou know, it's interesting to me, Juliet, do you have any sense that what's happened allegedly in Steubenville, Ohio, what's happened, Terry, in Notre Dame, are these incidents likely to change the thinking of legislators who are considering the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act?
MACURWell, it certainly helps the timing about, you know, for everything because the Steubenville case has gotten so much attention, and it will continue to get a lot of attention. The hacker group Anonymous has taken it on as their own little pet case, and they have -- they're breaking things online with new information, what they say is new information of alleged evidence that maybe more people were involved than just the two people who were not convicted but accused of raping the girl.
MACURSo it's going to get bigger, and it's just going to make people realize that this problem is not just happening at Steubenville or maybe at Notre Dame or in India. This happens every day. And it -- like I said before, if this was not reported by a bunch of high school boys online, nobody would've found out.
REHMWhat happened in Notre Dame? And what happened with the -- there were two young women involved.
O'NEILLTwo young women. Yes, yes. Again, allegedly sexually assaulted by football players at Notre Dame, both pressured severely by supporters of the football team and by football players themselves to not come forward. One of the young women committed suicide because of -- really because, in the aftermath of the assault, it was the undermining of her as a person, the attacks on her personally.
O'NEILLYou're just trying, you know, you shouldn't have been there, you were in the wrong place, you were wearing the wrong clothes, whatever, and that the real pressure on her was to not move forward with the prosecution. The other young woman has said absolutely, "100 percent." "I am not prosecuting because of the suicide of this other young woman who felt so pressured." That is the kind what we call rape culture that is so corrosive to the entire country.
REHMAll right. Let's go to Mike in Atlanta, Ga. Good morning. You're on the air.
MIKEGood morning. Thank you for taking my call.
MIKEYeah. I would like to thank you for having Phyllis Schlafly on. She's wonderful. And I wish you could have, in the future, an organization called Stop Abusive and Violent Environments to discuss the VAWA reform. They seem to be really, you know, knowledgeable in this area. I wanted to say that I heard one of the guests discuss the CDC study and the statistic of one in five women are raped and, I believe, one in seven women are stalked. I just wanted to point out that that study has been debunked.
MIKEIt was debunked by several scholars, including a scholar and a feminist named Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers. The answers and the questions that were asked in the study, I think, most people will find laughable, that they were construed to mean that the people were actually assaulted or raped. You know, questions such as, do you regret having sex with somebody?
MIKEAnd that was qualified as rape. Or did you have a drink before having intercourse with someone? Well, that's classified as legally not being able to consent, so therefore you were raped. I think that those -- I think we need to be honest about the statistics. And I'd like to see true statistics based in true studies and a credible study to be used for VAWA.
REHMAll right. Thanks for your call, Mike. Terry, we hear constantly, especially from many men who object to the kinds of numbers that are used out there. Where are these numbers coming from? Have they been debunked? I know the work of others have suggested that maybe these numbers aren't true to fact at all.
O'NEILLIt's always good to keep gathering information and understand the numbers better. But, you know, the caller really made me think of an analogy, the science -- the debate over climate science and the climate change deniers. I think there's a lot of that in all of this violence against women statistical analysis. Clearly, we want more and better information, but I think it's obvious that violence against women, specifically as women, is a serious problem and that this legislation is a good piece of legislation to address it.
MACURI do want to give a shout-out to the male allies. There are a number of networked organizations, Men Can Stop Rape, and they have state chapters around the country. The -- when I was at -- when I was on the faculty at Tulane, there was a TMAR, the Tulane Men Against Rape. The reality is that most men are not perpetrators of these horrific crimes.
MACURThe perpetrators, like the young men in Steubenville, like the football players in Notre Dame, if the fact shows that they committed these crimes, they need to go to prison for a very long time, and they don't need to be respected. Who needs to be respected are the vast majority of men in this country who don't go around committing these kinds of crimes.
REHMBut now tell me about these numbers and exactly how they are compiled.
O'NEILLSo one of the things -- one of the problems is to figure out -- rape is a severely underreported crime, not surprisingly, given what happens to women who come forward with rape allegations. And over the past, I would say, 40 to 50 years, there has been a very lively debate over what constitutes rape. We had a candidate for the United States vice presidency, Paul Ryan, actually signing on to a bill that distinguishes between forcible rape and other rape.
O'NEILLSo the -- and the FBI recently changed its definition of rape, finally got into the modern era with a definition of rape that is the only one that makes sense. And that definition is penetration, however slight, without consent, without consent. Not as against force, not as against saying no but without consent. That's a good definition of rape. With that new definition, the federal numbers on reports of rape are probably going to change over the next few years.
REHMPaulette, do you want to add to that?
MOOREI think that the -- there are a number of excellent studies out there. And whatever study you look at says the same thing, that violence against women and girls is out of control in this country.
MOOREAnd the studies also say that the violence against women (unintelligible) in the Violence Against Women Act have succeeded in curtailing those numbers, have succeeded in curtailing the number of women who are killed as result of violence, has curtailed the number of women who are harmed and have increased the number of people who are able to receive services, although there are not enough dollars for the services that are needed. So having more studies is excellent. It's fine. It's something that's encouraged. But also having services for people, we -- it's critical.
REHMHmm. All right. And Indira talked about the economy in India, the fact that economics do somehow play into all of this. Do you think that's the case here in this country, Juliet?
MACURWith economics? Well...
MACUR...in the case of Steubenville specifically, it was not. I mean, the two accusers came from really different families. The one -- the one's father had spent a lot of time in prison for attempted murder and manslaughter. The other one's father is a high school teacher. I think he's a science teacher and a coach. So they really came from different economic backgrounds. In that case, I think it was just the culture of the football team. And everybody was out at a party, and people thought it was OK to not only witness these alleged crimes. They -- one -- at least one person videotaped it.
MACURA couple of people had taken pictures of it. They later deleted those videos and pictures from their phone of actual -- the actual rape occurring, knowing after the fact that maybe this was not a good idea. But the problem is that they think this is OK, that this is funny, that we're going to make a 12-minute video, asking someone to describe the rape or how raped was she or how dead did she look.
MACURThat's the problem. And the one caller who mentioned the statistics, saying, you know, that was -- those statistics were debunked, well, I'm not sure at what point the statistics will look better for the need for more funding. I mean, I'm not a political reporter, but is it one in three is -- or one in 10 is OK, and one in three is not?
REHMAnd you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Indira.
LAKSHMANANWell, I wanted to make the point that, I mean, rape is a crime that we know not just in the United States but throughout the world that's severely underreported. And if you look at United Nations' statistics, they basically concluded that one in three women worldwide have experienced violence in their lives -- I'm not talking specifically about sexual violence but some kind of physical violence -- and that in some countries, those reporting rates reached 70 percent of the women in that country.
LAKSHMANANSo the World Health Organization, a very respected organization, the United Nations, they've all done multi-country studies that have shown on the issue of intimate partner violence, whether it's verbal, physical, sexual violence, that in the countries they've studied 15 to 71 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 49 had experienced intimate partner violence during their lives.
REHMAll right. And finally, to Monterey, Calif. Alexandra, you're on the air.
ALEXANDRAGood morning. And thank you so much for having this subject matter on. I wanted to say that the Violence Against Women Act helped save my life and my daughter's life. I was working in Washington, D.C. as a staffer for a United States senator when I met my ex-husband, who's working for a congressman from the Midwest. We got married and had a child. And he was very, very abusive.
ALEXANDRAThere was a coordinated community response. He is convicted of domestic violence. His parental rights were terminated. We were put in safe housing for two years, and we're fine now. My daughter's going into college. I've graduated law school, and I've done well. But the Violence Against Women Act was essential for us to allow that coordinated community response and education.
REHMI'm glad you called, Alexandra. Thank you. Terry, at the start of this, our Congresswoman DeGette said she was optimistic that this reauthorization would occur. Do you share her optimism?
O'NEILLI'm -- I am cautiously optimistic. I have to tell you, the objections by the Republican leadership last Congress to the reauthorization were so irrational, it seems to me. They didn't want protections for LGBT -- lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender -- victims. They didn't want protections for Indian women who are being raped at huge rates on reservations.
REHMYou mean Native American women?
O'NEILLNative American women, yes.
O'NEILLExcuse me. And they didn't want protections extended to immigrant women. This makes no sense. These are women who -- the most vulnerable in our society. So one of the things I asked myself was, what else could be behind this?
O'NEILLI will tell you that one of the impacts of the actions of the Republicans in the House is that the resources of the advocacy organizations and the small grassroots organizations dealing with violence against women are being drained by having to fight this so hard. And I have to ask myself if this isn't part and parcel of a tactic, a very mean-spirited tactic simply to make it harder to respond to this epidemic of violence.
REHMTerry O'Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, Indira Lakshmanan of Bloomberg News, Juliet Macur of The New York Times, Paulette Sullivan Moore of the National Network to End Domestic Violence. A serious subject, let's hope there is some movement on it. Thank you, all.
O'NEILLThank you, Diane.
LAKSHMANANThank you, Diane.
MOOREThank you, Diane.
REHMAnd thanks for listening. I'm Diane Rehm.
ANNOUNCER"The Diane Rehm Show" is produced by Sandra Pinkard, Nancy Robertson, Denise Couture, Susan Nabors, Rebecca Kaufman, Lisa Dunn and Jill Colgan. The engineer is Erin Stamper. Natalie Yuravlivker answers the phones. Visit drshow.org for audio archives, transcripts, podcasts and CD sales. Call 202-885-1200 for more information. Our email address is email@example.com, and we're on Facebook and Twitter. This program comes to you from American University in Washington, D.C. This is NPR.
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