September 25, 2000
Today, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, President Clinton will call on Congress to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), set to expire on September 30. Passed in 1994 as part of the Administration's crime bill, VAWA established new federal criminal provisions and grant programs to improve the criminal justice system's response to domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking, and to provide critical services to victims. The President will also announce approximately $1.7 million in VAWA grants for New Mexico that will be used to combat violence against Native women; improve response to domestic violence and child abuse in rural areas; encourage state, local, and tribal governments to treat domestic violence as a serious crime; and strengthen legal assistance programs.
HIGHLIGHTING VAWA'S SUCCESS IN COMBATING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. Since its passage, the Violence Against Women Act has been making a difference across the country. According to a recent report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, domestic violence has declined since 1993. The report shows:
- The number of women experiencing violence at the hands of an intimate partner declined 21% from 1993 to 1998, and
- In 1996, 1997, and 1998, intimate partners committed fewer murders than in any year since 1976.
The Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services have awarded over $1.6 billion in VAWA grants nationwide to support the work of prosecutors, law enforcement officials, the courts, victims' advocates, health care and social service professionals, and intervention and prevention programs. In addition, VAWA established a domestic violence hotline, which has received over half a million calls.
URGING REAUTHORIZATION OF VAWA. Although tremendous strides have been made, domestic violence still devastates the lives of many women and children. Nearly 900,000 women experience violence at the hands of an intimate partner every year. Close to one-third of women murdered each year are killed by an intimate partner, and violence by intimates accounts for over 20% of all violent crimes against women. If Congress fails to reauthorize VAWA, many critical programs may be jeopardized. Reauthorization legislation, which has broad bipartisan support, will help to:
- Maintain and expand the domestic violence hotline, shelter, rape prevention, and education programs;
- Expand the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women;
- Provide assistance to a greater number of victims; and
- Support effective partnerships between law enforcement, victims' advocates, and communities.
ANNOUNCING VAWA GRANTS TO NEW MEXICO. The President will announce approximately $1.7 million in VAWA grants for New Mexico that will be used to combat domestic violence. Here is how some of the grantees will use this funding:
- El Refugio, Inc., a legal services center, will provide training for law enforcement and judicial staff on domestic violence issues, and legal representation to victims of domestic violence;
- The Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Council, Inc., will maintain and improve collaboration among social services, tribal police departments, tribal prosecutors, tribal courts, and domestic violence programs;
- Morning Star House, a battered women's shelter, will identify a network of safe houses for Indian women and children and develop a plan for a permanent shelter that is culturally appropriate for Indian women and children;
- Taos Pueblo tribal court and victims' advocate will continue its work with tribal organizations to implement its Family Protection Code.