Clinton Supports Anti Violence Act

Monday, September 25th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Clinton administration pressed Congress on Monday to renew a law intended to reduce domestic violence against women. The landmark 1994 Violence Against Women Act is due to expire Sept. 30.

President Clinton was winding up three days of fund-raising in the West with an appearance alongside advocates for battered women in New Mexico.

Legislation to reauthorize the law for another six years has broad bipartisan support, but it is held up in the last-minute crush of bills as Congress tries to meet an Oct. 6 adjournment date.

If the law is extended, it will be without a key provision allowing rape victims to sue their attackers in federal court. The Supreme Court said it is up to states, not Congress, to choose whether to protect women in that way.

Congressional Democrats tried unsuccessfully to reinstate the provision this year.

As left by the Supreme Court, the law now essentially provides a federal dispensary for a variety of grants and programs aimed at preventing family violence and helping women flee it.

So far, the federal government has spent $1.6 billion under the law, including $173 million being distributed this year. Clinton was announcing New Mexico's last batch of $1.7 million on Monday, money the White House said will go to partly to strengthen domestic violence enforcement and prosecution efforts on American Indian lands.

The administration credits the law with helping produce a 21 percent decline in domestic violence between 1993 and 1998, although violent crime in general has declined over the same period.

A government report released in July found that nearly 25 percent of women, and about seven percent of men, say they have been raped or assaulted by a current or former partner.

The survey, from a Justice Department agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also shows that spousal stalking is more widespread than thought, with almost five percent of women saying they've been stalked by a partner.

The survey also found differences among racial backgrounds. African-American, American Indian and native Alaskan women and men reported higher rates of partner violence than people from other backgrounds. Asians reported lower rates.

The survey found 1.5 percent of women and 0.9 percent of men said they were raped or physically assaulted by their partner in the last 12 months. According to the estimates, approximately 1.5 million American women and more than 800,000 men are raped or assaulted by an intimate partner annually.