Violence Against Women debated
February 8, 2013 ·
The Senate met yesterday on Capitol Hill to consider reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.
The Violence Against Women Act is a federal law that was
first passed in 1994. It provides $1.6 billion toward investigation and
prosecution of violent crimes against women. It was up for reauthorization last
year and passed through the Senate with additional terms that extended
protections to Native Americans, immigrants, and same-sex couples. The House
subsequently passed its own measure, substantially altering and in some places
omitting those Senate provisions and the two bills were never reconciled.
The Senate voted 85-5 earlier this week to move forward on
the bill again. Co-sponsor, Senator Joe Manchin, believes the bill is an
important one for West Virginia.
“It’s a problem of epidemic proportions," Manchin says.
"Let me give you some facts. Every seven minutes a call is made to a
domestic hotline in our state of West Virginia; one third of our homicides are
related to domestic violence and more than two thirds of our women are killed
by a member of their family or household. It’s unbelievable. In 2010 there were
11,174 investigations into domestic violence allegations and that required
almost 273,000 hours of work my law enforcement officers.”
There’s been criticism that congress used this issue as a
political playing card to sway the female vote during an election year, but
Manchin says with the election behind us, there’s no reason to hold up
“I can’t see how anybody could play politics with this,”
However the vote that was scheduled yesterday has been
delayed until Monday to debate further the issue of giving Native American
courts more power to prosecute non-natives in domestic abuse cases. Some
members of the Senate are also taking steps to try to tighten rules that govern
immigrants subject to domestic abuse. Manchin is hopeful the provisions for
immigrants, Native Americans, and same sex couples will remain intact.
“I think that finally, hopefully we’ve gotten out of the
political posturing because of election year last year and gotten back to the
reality and also just truly making a bold statement that we do not tolerate,
will not tolerate abuse or violence against our women and children. No way can
I fathom, I just cannot imagine how anybody could have any violence against a
woman or child. And this in not just women and children—it’s men also. So we’re
talking about the whole gamut here.”
Senator Jay Rockefeller also cosponsors the bill. He is
urging both the House and Senate to reauthorize the act saying that everyone
deserves to be safe from abuse and that all victims of domestic violence should
be afforded every protection the law can provide.
Rockefeller is participating in a round table discussion on
the Violence Against Women Act today in Martinsburg. Representatives from law
enforcement, the judiciary, advocates and counselors are expected to
participate. The discussion will take place at two this afternoon at the
Berkely County Department of Health and Human Resources office.