Montana U.S. Senators Jon Tester and Max Baucus touted a victory for Montana today as the House of Representatives passed their strong Senate version of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The bill, which Tester and Baucus co-sponsored and championed in the Senate, will now be signed into law. VAWA provides more than $4 million for 50 programs across Montana.
"By passing the Violence Against Women Act, the House of Representatives is finally joining our fight to make sure women and children have every opportunity to lead full, healthy lives," Tester said. "No Montana community tolerates violence against women and children, and committing the resources to keep our most vulnerable citizens safe is the smart, responsible thing to do."
"This highly-effective program has helped Montana advocates and law enforcement gain a lot of ground in their work to protect Montana communities, and today's victory is a huge step toward putting an end to domestic and sexual violence. But our work is not done, and each and every one of us has a responsibility to promote a zero tolerance policy when it comes to violence against our mothers, daughters and sisters," Baucus said. "The Montanans who fight on behalf of victims every day are nothing short of heroes, and I will continue doing my part to get them the resources they need to carry out this important work."
The Senate version of VAWA has the endorsement of the Montana Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.
Tester and Baucus have been calling on the House to pass the strong Senate version of VAWA since it first passed the nearly a year ago. Baucus played a key role in passing the original legislation in 1994, and last week held roundtable discussions on domestic violence with law enforcement and community advocates in Missoula and Bozeman.
The bipartisan Senate version of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011 (VAWA 2011) significantly strengthens the ability of states, law enforcement, and service providers to combat domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. This bill reauthorizes important programs that have helped law enforcement, prosecutors, and victim service providers to make demonstrable progress in keeping victims safe and holding perpetrators accountable, while making changes to these programs to make VAWA works better. The bill also consolidates programs to reduce administrative costs and add efficiency. It consolidates 13 existing programs, many of which overlap, into four. VAWA 2011 addresses the crisis of violence against women in tribal communities, who face extremely high rates of domestic violence and sexual assault, by strengthening concurrent tribal criminal jurisdiction over those who assault Indian spouses and dating partners in Indian country, clarifying jurisdiction for civil protection orders, improving grant programs, and strengthening assault statutes.
Since VAWA first passed in 1994:
· VAWA saved nearly $14.8 billion in net averted social costs in its first six years alone.
· More victims report domestic violence to the police; there has been up to a 51% increase in reporting by women and a 37% increase in reporting by men.
· The rate of non-fatal intimate partner violence against women has decreased by 53%.
· The number of individuals killed by an intimate partner has decreased by 34% for women and 57% for men.