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January 20, 1999

Biden Introduces Violence Against Women Act II

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Joseph R. Biden, Jr., has introduced the Violence Against Women Act II, a bill that extends and strengthens his original 1994 "VAWA" bill through 2002.

"Thanks to the great success of the original Act, women and children now have access to shelters that provide a safe haven from abuse; police officers are trained to identify abusers and help victims; and victims of domestic violence and assault have access to counseling and legal assistance," Biden said in a Senate floor statement yesterday.

"The time when a woman had to suffer -- in silence and alone -- because the criminal who abuses her happens to be her husband or boyfriend is on its way to becoming ancient history," Biden said.

"But just because we have had some success does not mean we can become complacent and abandon the fight against domestic violence," Biden said. "The legislation I am introducing today has one simple goal: make more women and their children safe."

A central part of the bill would extend The Violent Crime Reduction Trust Fund, due to expire in 2000, through 2002. The trust fund provides money for police, courts, prosecutors, judges and shelters in a comprehensive effort to combat violence against women.

Another key provision of the bill strengthens the enforcement of "stay-away" orders across state lines. Often a victim of domestic violence enters a state where local law enforcement may not recognize a valid protection order from another state. To address this problem, the measure frees up grant money to facilitate information sharing between states, encourages states to enter into cooperative agreements with each other, and calls on the Justice Department to provide technical guidance to state and local police.

Other measures in the bill would:

• boost spending for more women's shelters;

• end insurance discrimination against battered women;

• extend the Family and Medical Leave Act to cover court appearances by battered women; and

• target the "date rape drug," Rohypnol, with maximum federal penalties.

Help is available--Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE or 1-800-787-3224 (TDD).