Senator Lisa Murkowski has joined a bipartisan team of Senators in introducing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization bill to continue to support efforts and programs nationwide to combat and police domestic violence, as well as providing services and care for victims. A similar version of the bill -- which originally became law over twenty years ago -- passed the Senate last year, but stalled in the House of Representatives despite Murkowski urging the other chamber to pass it.
"Hundreds of Alaskans seek help, care or protection every single day from violent acts and those who commit them," said Senator Murkowski. "From Kenai to Ketchikan, Anchorage to Dillingham, this bill has been crucial in providing Alaska women what they need when they need it most. I am proud to stand with my colleagues to push this bill in the Senate and hope the slight adjustments we have made to address the concerns of the House of Representatives pave the road to passage."
"AWAIC has seen incredible changes in victim advocacy, law enforcement and prosecution during the 35 years it has existed, even more so in the last 20 years. VAWA has brought these agencies to proactively partner and address the issue of domestic violence," said Abused Women's Aid in Crisis Executive Director Suzi Pearson. "AWAIC fully supports the Senate version of the bill and is greatly appreciative of Senator Murkowski's work over the years to protect victims of domestic violence."
In Alaska, 59 percent of women have experienced partner violence or sexual violence -- felt even more acutely in rural Alaska and among Alaska Native women -- and Senator Murkowski has been committed to taking action to improve protection and care for vulnerable women both in Alaska and across the nation.
The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act ensures that states like Alaska with smaller populations but greater need are given the same access to grants for victims -- while providing services and support to all victims of domestic and sexual violence, through a uniform non-discrimination provision that expands access to service for more victims. This year's updated bill also improves access to forensic tools needed by victims of sexual assault.
Senator Murkowski's support and attention to the issue of domestic violence goes beyond legislation. Just last summer, she was instrumental in securing a $50,000 grant to the Emmonak Women's shelter to keep its doors open to women and children in the region.