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Hagan decries opposition to Violence Against Women Act

Sen. Kay Hagan today said the Violence Against Women Act has run into opposition in the House of Representatives, reports Renee Schoof, who reports on NC's delegation for McClatchy Newspapers. Last year was the first year that Congress didn’t reauthorize the legislation since it was passed in 1994. The VAWA provides federal funds for services for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence and for prosecution of rapists.
 
“The Violence Against women Act has never been used as a political football before,” Hagan said in a conference call.
 
She said that the legislation “provides a lifeline for women and children who are victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.” It funds crisis centers and shelters and 911. It also includes a provision that Hagan sponsored — funds to raise awareness of domestic violence and sexual assault among health care providers.
 
The law also strengthened federal penalties for repeat sex offenders and said that victims should not be forced to pay for their own rape exams or for serving a protective order.
 
Sgt. Darrell Price with Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department's Sexual Assault Cold Case Unit was also on the call. He said the law was responsible for anonymous reporting in North Carolina. That allows rape victims to go to a hospital and be treated and have evidence collected without immediately contacting the police, so that they have time to make an informed decision, Price said.
 
Price said some funding from the legislation also goes for education for police detectives on domestic violence and sexual assault. “Contrary to what you see on TV,” many detectives don’t stay on the same job for a long time,” Price said. “We constantly have to educate new detectives to recognize specific patterns.”


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