In Advance of Senate Debate, Menendez Convenes Local Experts to Discuss Importance of Violence Against Women Act

In Advance of Senate Debate, Menendez Convenes Local Experts to Discuss Importance of Violence Against Women Act

Says Protecting Women Should Not be a Partisan Issue

*** Click Here for a photo gallery from the event***

Newark -U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today hosted a roundtable discussion with 40 experts at the New Jersey Coalition for Battered Women on the importance of reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which is being debated by the Senate this week.

Reauthorization is necessary to ensure that local communities and law enforcement have the resources and tools they need to effectively combat domestic violence and protect women and their children. For the first time since its original passage in 1994, VAWA is facing a fight from Senate Republicans who oppose efforts to expand protections to more victims.

"Women in New Jersey rely on law enforcement and other support programs for life-saving assistance in the face of violence. In just one 24 hour period, 1,292 victims in New Jersey turned to a domestic violence program to seek help - and behind every one of these numbers is a real life at real risk," said Menendez. "Reauthorizing funding for these programs is vital to preventing domestic violence and to protecting victims of domestic violence and their children. It is inconceivable that Senate Republicans would play politics with women's safety. We must stand up for all women regardless of their race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability."

A report by the New Jersey State Police Crime Reporting Unit shows that 74, 244 domestic violence offenses were reported in New Jersey in 2010. And according to Centers for Disease Control, an estimated 1,606,000 women in New Jersey have been victims of sexual violence other than rape in their life time and approximately 902,000 women in New Jersey have been victims of rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their life time. VAWA would further strengthen and improve programs to assist victims and survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.In addition, the reauthorization bill adds an increased focus on sexual assault, including the addition of new purpose areas to support the efforts of sexual assault coalitions working in the states.

VAWA was signed into law by President Clinton in 1994 and until now, has been reauthorized easily. VAWA advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee along party lines. Despite the fact that the underlying bill has Republican cosponsors, not one Republican member of the Judiciary committee voted to advance the bill. Prior, VAWA was reauthorized in 2000 and in 2005 by strong bipartisan votes in the House and Senate. VAWA is supported by over 50 national religious organizations, more than 200 national organizations, and 500 state and local organizations, including victim service providers, law enforcement officers, prosecutors and survivors themselves.

Below are county-by-county numbers of domestic violence offenses in for 2010.

COUNTY

REPORTED DOMESTIC VIOLENCE OFFENSES 2010

Atlantic

5,694

Bergen

4,207

Burlington

3,919

Camden

6,798

Cape May

1,189

Cumberland

3,831

Essex

5,335

Gloucester

3,381

Hudson

3,572

Hunterdon

759

Mercer

2,923

Middlesex

4,762

Monmouth

5,505

Morris

2,630

Ocean

5,149

Passaic

4,270

Salem

876

Somerset

2,317

Sussex

1,507

Union

3,927

Warren

1,693

TOTAL

74,244

(source: NJ State Police Uniform Crime Reporting Unit report 2010)

VAWA was the first major law to help government agencies and victim advocates work together to fight domestic violence, sexual assault, and other types of violence against women. It created new punishments for certain crimes and started programs to prevent violence and help victims. Over the years, the law has been expanded to provide more programs and services. Currently, some included items are:

  • Violence prevention programs in communities
  • Protections for victims who are evicted from their homes because of events related to domestic violence or stalking
  • Funding for victim assistance services like rape crisis centers and hotlines
  • Programs to meet the needs of immigrant women and women of different races or ethnicities
  • Programs and services for victims with disabilities
  • Legal aid for survivors of violence
  • Services for children and teens

###




Press Contact

Menendez Press 202.224.4744