Violence Against Women Act Passes Congress
Photo: Video by kmir6.com
Congressman Raul Ruiz says passing the Violence Against Women Act was vital to protecting women across America.
The bill passed the House on Thursday.
Local leaders say this legislation will provide more funding and serve more women in the fight against domestic violence.
Congressman Ruiz spoke in his first House floor speech for the bill, and then again Friday to local leaders.
Ruiz says the new Violence Against Women Act will protect more people.
"Domestic violence should not be a political issue, but it also provides protections for Native American, our LGBT women, and immigrant women," said Congressman Ruiz.
The last act expired more than 500 days ago.
"Shame, shame shame on waiting to pass this bill because of the inclusion of LGBT citizens like myself, I am a lesbian, GLBT, that is what it means, and I am a lesbian and I am a woman, so what stopped them from passing that act, we are all women," said Melinda Tramaglio with the National Organization for Women in Palm Springs.
The bill now also allows non-tribal members to be tried in tribal court for abuse against their partner.
"Over 500 tribes across the nation that will be affected, and in a good way, the police forces will be given resources, the courts will be given resources, and organizations like Shelter from the Storm will be given resources," said Mary Ann Andreas, with the Tribal Council of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians.
Shelter From The Storm is the only domestic violence shelter in the valley.
"We serve over 900 times on a yearly basis just in our emergency transition shelter program. We receive over 300 calls a month just for victims inquiring about services, counseling, so the numbers are pretty high, statistically speaking one in four women is a victim of domestic violence in her lifetime," said Angelina Coe, Executive Director for Shelter From The Storm.
The act allows tougher penalties, and more funding for law enforcement to fight these crimes.
"We have had quite a bit of domestic violence in the valley, and not only will this help improve the women's who are impacted by that, but everybody's lives who are impacted by domestic violence," said Chief Kate Singer with Desert Hot Springs Police Department.
These local leaders and Congressman Ruiz are thankful the bill finally passed Congress.
"As an ER doctor, I wanted to speak for my patients, I wanted to speak for our families, I wanted to speak for our community in Washington DC on the House floor and that enough is enough, we must protect all women, all women from violence," said Ruiz.
Now the bill must be signed by the President.
Shelter From The Storm is our local organization for victims of domestic violence, their crisis line (760) 328-7233.