Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Women Less Often Victims of Violence by Their Loved Ones

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Women Less Often Victims of Violence by Their Loved Ones

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- The rate at which American women are attacked or threatened by husbands and boyfriends dropped 21 percent in the mid-1990s, Attorney General Janet Reno said yesterday while calling for the renewal of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act's programs and funding.

This comes after the Supreme Court on Monday struck down a key provision of the law that let rape victims sue their attackers in federal court. Reno called that "deeply disappointing" and called on Congress to act on the renewals before the October deadline.

"Violence still devastates too many lives," she said at a news conference in front of the Capitol.

In a report, "Intimate Partner Violence," the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics described a widespread drop in violence among husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends that mirrors the general decline in serious crimes nationwide since 1992.

The rate at which women were attacked by "intimate partners" -- current or former spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends or partners -- dropped 21 percent during the mid-1990s, and the number of men murdered by wives or girlfriends plunged 60 percent from 1976 through 1998.

"We've given wives alternatives to feeling like they have to pick up a loaded gun to kill their loaded husbands," said Professor James Alan Fox of Northeastern University in Boston. "Divorce is easier."

Reno and Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., sponsor of the 1994 legislation, credited the act for the decrease. Under the law, states had to honor protective orders issued by other states; federal funding for shelters more than doubled; and new grants were given to train police and prosecutors, set up special units and track incidents.

To qualify for certain grants, states also had to adopt policies that encourage police to arrest offenders on a domestic call. In many states, police now must make an arrest when they go to a domestic dispute or explain in writing why they didn't.

The Supreme Court on Monday threw out the provision allowing rape victims to sue their attackers in federal court, saying Congress wrongly trampled on an area of state authority. …

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