Loretta Sanchez (D-CA), one of Congress’ staunchest anti-violence advocates, heads into the next session with her mind on money for the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which aims at preventing violence, prosecuting offenders and treating victims, reports Women’s eNews. Lawmakers have not yet agreed on funding levels for fiscal 2009 but will likely do so soon. Congress is under pressure to cut funding due to the effects of the credit crisis and ailing economy. She hopes Vice President Joe Biden, who championed domestic violence programs as a senator, will use his influence to persuade lawmakers to “at least hold the line” on spending.
Sanchez said VAWA could use more funding because domestic violence rises during economic downturns and in times of war, when members of the military often return in poor mental health. At the same time, victims of violence and assault have fewer places to turn because governments tend to cut back on social services in recessions. In recent years, VAWA has been authorized to get $800 million annually but has actually received less than $600 million. While women are less likely to be victims of crime overall, they are far more likely to suffer from domestic violence and sexual assault, says the San Francisco-based Family Violence Prevention Fund.