Violence Against Women Act of 2005 Introduced in House & Senate

Senators Joseph Biden (D-DE), Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Arlen Specter (R-PA) introduced the Violence Against Women Act of 2005 in the United States Senate on June 8. Representatives Mark Green (R-WI), John Conyers (D-MI), Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL) and Hilda Solis (D-CA) introduced it in the House of Representatives a week later. The bill, which was first enacted in 1994 and re-authorized in 2000, will expire in September unless Congress acts.

“These lawmakers did a great service to the nation by introducing a strong Violence Against Women Act (VAWA),” said Family Violence Prevention Fund President Esta Soler. “If it is fully funded, strengthened and passed, this bill can do a tremendous amount to prevent violence of all kinds, and to help victims of domestic and dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.”

“The bill we are introducing today provides a comprehensive approach to combating domestic violence,” Senator Biden said. “It stiffens penalties for repeat offenders, provides more money for vital services, and will help battered women get the assistance and support they need. It also focuses on breaking the cycle of violence through education and helping rural victims in under-served areas.”

Co-sponsors of the new Senate bill, S. 1197, are Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Mike DeWine (R-OH), Charles Grassley (R-IA), Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Herb Kohl (D-WI), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Charles Schumer (D-NY).

Co-sponsors of the House bill, H.R. 2876, are Deborah Pryce (R-OH), Dave Reichert (R-WA), Melissa Hart (R-PA), Charles Boustany (R-LA), Michael Michaud (D-ME), Mark Foley (R-FL), Ted Poe (R-TX), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Lois Capps (D-CA) and Louise Slaughter (D-NY).

Details of Legislation

VAWA 2005 would continue essential programs and enhance the civil and criminal justice response to violence. It would increase funding to $5 million per year to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, and create a new dedicated grant program for sexual assault victims that will strengthen the 1,300 rape crisis centers across the country.

VAWA has achieved so much over the past ten years to enhance justice and community responses to violence against women,” said Marybeth Carter, President of the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence. “We are especially pleased about the new Sexual Assault Services Act, which provides the first funding exclusively focused on support services for victims of sexual assault.”

The bill also includes measures to promote collaboration between domestic violence experts and child welfare agencies, and to strengthen the health care system’s response to family violence with programs to train and educate health care professionals, foster family violence screening for patients, and study the health ramifications of family violence.

It would provide money for programs to support children exposed to violence, for training and curricula development for home visitation programs on domestic violence, and to engage men and youth in preventing violence.

VAWA 2005 includes provisions that would address the needs of victims of trafficking, victims from communities of color, and immigrant and tribal victims. It would support several housing and economic security programs to stop violence and help victims.

Next Steps

“Congress has no higher priority than to ensure that VAWA is re-authorized,” Soler added, “and that the new bill funds supports for children who have been exposed to violence, public education to teach the next generation that violence is wrong, and programs to improve the health system’s response to violence. We urge every advocate and every person who wants to stop violence to let their Senators know that they want to see VAWA 2005 passed quickly.”

More information on VAWA, tools for advocates and more is available at www.endabuse.org/vawa and www.vawa2005.org

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