Rebekah Warren calls on Congress to reauthorize Violence Against Women Act
State Sen. Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor, on Thursday introduced a resolution urging Congress to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act and to do so in a swift and bipartisan fashion.
"The failure to act on the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act last year signified a huge step backward in the fight to protect women and families from domestic violence," said Warren, who took part in the "One Billion Rising" event at the state Capitol on Valentine's Day, part of a global event inviting 1 billion women and those who love them to demand an end to domestic violence.
A standoff over the U.S. House and Senate versions of the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization last year resulted in the legislation expiring for the first time since it was passed in 1994.
While the U.S. Senate voted to pass the bill this Tuesday, the House has yet to act.
The bill would grant more than $650 million over five years to states and local governments for programs such as transitional housing and legal assistance to victims of domestic violence.
The Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate added protections for gays, lesbians and immigrants, a move that drew ire from some Republicans, ABC News reported.
Warren said the act provides critical funding for needed services and targets resources toward prosecution of violent crimes against women who are often without the necessary resources to navigate the legal system or afford legal representation.
Since the act was first signed into law nearly two decades ago, the number of women killed nationwide by their intimate partner has fallen 30 percent, and the annual rate of domestic violence against women has fallen more than 60 percent, according to statistics cited by Warren.
But even after the success of the act, Warren said, one in four women still experiences domestic violence in her lifetime, 68,500 women in Michigan were victims of domestic violence in 2011, and more than 100 domestic violence-related homicides occur in Michigan each year.