Attorney General John Ashcroft appointed Nancy Pfotenhauer, president and CEO of the notoriously conservative International Women’s Forum (IWF), to the National Advisory Committee on Violence Against Women. IWF board member Margot Hill was also invited to join the committee, which advises the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services on implementation and enforcement of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
“The appointments of Pfotenhauer and Hill to the Committee on Violence Against Women send a clear message that the administration has no intention of taking the fight against domestic violence seriously,” said Margaret Moore, director of the National Center for Women and Policing, a division of the Feminist Majority Foundation. Ironically, the IWF has vehemently protested VAWA since its passage in the 1994. In 2000, the Clinton administration said that VAWA – which provides funds for law enforcement, expands shelters for battered women and helps women on college campuses – was responsible for a 21 percent drop in violence against women. Ashcroft, in his confirmation hearings, promised to fully utilize VAWA to fight violence against women.
Despite statistics reported by the Department of Justice that 1.3 million US women are victims of domestic violence, IWF has continually dismissed intimate partner violence as a problem that is not worthy of taxpayer dollars. “The Violence Against Women Act will do nothing to protect women from crime. It will, though, perpetuate false information, waste money and urge vulnerable women to mistrust all men,” reads an article on IWF’s Website entitled “Violence Against Taxpayers.” The organization applauded the 2000 Supreme Court decision prohibiting women from suing their attackers in federal courts under VAWA.
Pfotenhauer told the Washington Post, “I’d hope we’ve been asked to participate in this because we have a different view but one that’s constructive.” However, IWF’s record on women’s issues can only be characterized as destructive. In addition to opposing VAWA, the IWF opposes Title IX (which prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded educational programs), comparable pay efforts, affirmative action programs, and gay and lesbian marriage and parenting.
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