The Violence Against Women Act has been a major issue lately in New York and throughout the country. The reauthorization of the bill was recently approved by the U.S. Senate, and Senator Charles Schumer from New York called on members of the House of Representatives to also pass the legislation.

According to the senator, between 2009 and 2010, police in the New York metro area were called to the scenes of more than 85,000 domestic violence incidents. The bill he supports would provide grants to help train law enforcement and legal officials in stopping and preventing domestic violence, dating violence, stalking and sexual assault.

The Violence Against Women Act also strengthens the punishing power of federal laws aimed at digital stalking and other forms of Internet-related harassment.

Specifically, Senator Schumer urged the House to pass the Senate version of the bill and not the Republican House version. Schumer claimed that the House bill would fail to offer provisions that actually addressed the needs of domestic violence victims.

Here are some important aspects of the act approved by the Senate:

  • Coverage expanded to give grants to underserved communities
  • Updates to federal laws targeting all forms of digital stalking
  • 20 percent of STOP grants provided specifically for dealing with crimes of sexual violence
  • $12 million provided for the Court-Appointed Special Advocate program to help children involved in abuse and neglect cases navigate the court system
  • Federal money for victims to pay for forensic exam kits
  • Requirements for colleges and universities receiving federal funding to make statistics on stalking incidents, dating violence and domestic violence available to the public

Readers in the White Plains area who have domestic violence concerns will want to keep a close eye on the Violence Against Women Act as the U.S. House decides on the specifics of reauthorizing the legislation.

Source: The Village Voice, “Senator Chuck Schumer Calls on House to Pass the Violence Against Women Act with Key Provisions,” Sam Levin, April 29. 2012