U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., today praised the Senate's passage of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which she cosponsored. The bill, which provides important protections for victims of domestic and sexual violence, was first enacted in 1994 and twice reauthorized by Congress. The Senate passed a nearly identical bill last April, but it was not brought up for a vote in the House.
"Today the Senate voted to reauthorize and strengthen legislation with a proven record of protecting women and families who are victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse," Sen. Landrieu said. "The Violence Against Women Act is particularly important for Louisiana as our state consistently ranks among the top five for women killed as a result of domestic violence. This legislation will save lives-I hope the House of Representatives will follow the Senate's lead and quickly pass this important bill."
Since its expiration at the end of FY 2011, there have been more than 16 million incidents of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States. In Louisiana, because of VAWA, $4.9 million was awarded to local governments and organizations in FY 2012 for the purpose of combatting violence, according to the Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women. Programs that provide services for victims like the Wellspring Alliance for Family in Monroe, La., and the Crescent House program in New Orleans, all rely on funds made available under VAWA.
The reauthorization incorporates provisions from the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Registry or SAFER Act (S.80). This legislation passed the Senate last year and would modify the Services, Training, Officers, Prosecution or STOP and Arrest Grant programs to help alleviate the nationwide backlog of approximately 400,000 untested rape kits across the country, which are used to collect evidence after a sexual assault.