When it approved the Violence Against Women Act more than a decade ago, Congress was criticized by some for paying too much attention to law enforcement and prosecution programs and not enough to services for victims of abuse, says Women’s eNews. In updating the law, lawmakers propose to channel a larger share of funds to programs that help victims seek and find assistance, recover from physical, sexual and psychological abuse, find safe housing, and keep their jobs.
A Senate bill to reauthorize the law would authorize $2.7 billion over the next five years for new and existing programs to aid victims and prevent domestic and sexual violence. That is more than half of the bill’s $4 billion total price tag and is a considerably higher percentage than was authorized for similar programs in 1994 and 2000. Similar legislation has been introduced in the House. If funded in the appropriations process, the bill would provide a large chunk of new money–for the first time ever–to programs that provide direct services to victims of sexual assault. It would fund new programs to assist battered women find transitional housing, provide them with better health care services, and help them keep their jobs by allowing employment leave for going to court or moving their belongings to a shelter.