WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Attorney General Josh Stein joined two dozen other state attorneys general in pushing for the U.S. Senate to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, which expired more than a year ago.
In a letter to the Senate, the attorneys general highlight the need for the law during this pandemic, when we are seeing an increase in domestic violence cases across the country.
Earlier this week, we reported calls to the Domestic Violence Shelter and Services in Wilmington are up 114 percent as stay-at-home orders increase the risk to domestic violence victims.
“The law has been reauthorized every time it’s come to its completion ever since it was passed in the 90s," Stein said. “It is a critical statement on the priorities of law enforcement, that we care about domestic violence with this Covid pandemic people sheltering in place and the crime that spiked is domestic violence. We want to do everything we possibly can to keep people safe from harm.”
Congress first passed the Violence Against Women Act in 1994.
It provided billions of dollars for the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women, as well as financial support to survivors.
In April of 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill with bipartisan support reauthorizing the act.
Stein said he is unsure of why the Senate has not taken it up, more than a year later.
He said each time the bill has been reauthorized, it has strengthened protections for women.
The expansion passed by the house includes stronger protections for Native American and those in the LGBTQ community. It also closes the “boyfriend loophole,” which allows some abusers to continue possessing firearms under federal law.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or visit www.thehotline.org.