A partisan divide in Congress is threatening programs that can mean life or death for battered women.
Re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act – known by the acronym VAWA – has passed the Senate but is currently blocked by a Republican controlled House.
Annelle Edwards, with Marietta’s EVE shelter, says the controversy is mainly over three specific protections: immigrant women, inclusion of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender/sexual) community, and dealing with domestic violence on Native American tribal lands.
Edwards notes that EVE receives substantial funding from state grants authorized by the Violence Against Women Act.
“We receive around $50,000 that funds our core services – which means the bare bones running of a shelter – the hotline, hotline workers, keeping the shelter open 24 hours a day. It would especially be a huge loss for us if we didn’t have our hotline program,” says Edwards.
EVE’s hotline receives over 6,000 calls a year with about 40 percent of calls coming between the hours of 5 p.m. and 7 a.m.
According to reports from Washington, VAWA has been repeatedly reauthorized with bipartisan support since its enactment in 1994, but this time, last-minute negotiations give a real chance of failure.
“That would affect our core shelter program, and we also get $25,000 that comes straight from VAWA and funds our sexual assault counseling and advocacy programs,” says Edwards. “So, there are certainly some local ramifications for us.”