Today, U.S. Senator Angus S. King, Jr. (I-Maine) hailed the passage of S.47, a bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. A cosponsor of the legislation, Senator King voted in favor of the measure, which provides critical protections for victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. The Violence Against Women Act, originally implemented in 1994 and renewed in both 2000 and 2005, expired in 2011 when the House failed to take up the measure the Senate passed.
Senator King said:
"In 2010 and 2011, almost half of all homicides in Maine were directly related to domestic violence, and a recent report by the Muskie School of Public Service found that nearly one in five Mainers will report being the victim of sexual assault or attempted sexual assault during their lifetime -- with even more falling victim but, for various reasons, deciding not to report it.
"These staggering statistics are the very reason why I'm so pleased that the Senate reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act -- and did so in a strong bipartisan fashion. In fact, since its expiration in 2011, there have been more than sixteen million victims of domestic and sexual violence. While the passage of today's legislation will not entirely end these heinous crimes, it will restore critical support resources and strengthen successful programs that strive to not only combat, but when possible, prevent domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
"Specifically, the bill contains provisions that reauthorize important programs, including STOP Grants, Grants to Encourage Arrest Policies and Enforcement of Protection Orders Program, Transitional Housing Assistance Grants, as well as legal assistance for victims and youth prevention programs, and increased protections for underserved communities. Additionally, the legislation includes several measures intended to increase focus on sexual assault prevention, enforcement, and services, including an added emphasis on reducing the backlog of untested rape kits, which -- remarkably and unacceptably -- number in the hundreds of thousands.
"I urge the House of Representatives to immediately take action so that we can send this critical piece of legislation to the President's desk and demonstrate to the American people that Congress refuses to idly stand by as these abhorrent crimes are perpetrated."