States Taking More Action Aimed At Reducing Domestic Violence

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States are increasingly interested in reducing domestic violence, reports Stateline. Some, including South Carolina, have formed task forces to address the issue. Last year, Texas legislators created a panel of medical professionals and domestic abuse experts to study the effects of family violence on mothers and children. (In 2012, 114 women in Texas were killed by a domestic partner.) Its report, which is due in 2015, will focus on early detection of domestic abuse. A similar task force in Vermont recommended engaging men in domestic violence prevention and strengthening colleges' responses to on-campus partner violence and sexual assault.

For the most part, recent state legislation has concentrated on housing and employment protections (such as prohibiting landlords from evicting battered women for calling the police); broadening definitions of abuse (to include, for example, teenagers battered by boyfriends); and protecting the confidentiality of domestic violence shelters and counselors, said Rochelle Finzel of the National Conference of State Legislatures. In Connecticut, a team of women legislators introduced a bill in January addressing sexual assault and dating violence on college campuses. The bill, signed into law in May, came after a group of students last year sued the University of Connecticut for allegedly mishandling rapes. Last week, amid the NFL’s Ray Rice scandal, the New Jersey Assembly passed a a package of six bills aimed at protecting women from domestic abuse.

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