February 7, 2013
Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster today sent a letter to members of Congress, urging them to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which expired in 2011 when Congress failed to reauthorize it.
The Act was first enacted in 1994 and has been reauthorized twice. In his letter, Koster said that the Act, which was first, “put in place a legal framework that better enabled states like Missouri to effectively investigate violent crimes against women, prosecute and punish offenders, and protect victims from further harm.”
Koster said that the VAWA also provided funding for programs and services that Missouri women and their families rely on, including community-based services provided through the Sexual Assault Services Program. In addition, VAWA provided funds for training Missouri prosecutors, police officers and court officials to deal more effectively with cases of domestic violence.
Koster noted in the letter that Missouri faces enormous challenges in the area of domestic violence.
“In 2011, over 40,000 incidents of domestic violence were reported in Missouri,” Koster wrote. “Thirty women were killed by their husbands or boyfriends. Missouri women reported more than 1,400 forcible rapes or attempted forcible rapes. And although over 10,000 women in need were able to find a place at a shelter, nearly 20,000 more were turned away.”
In 2010, Koster convened a task force on domestic violence, which led to a set of 12 recommendations for offering greater protection to victims of domestic violence. In 2011 the Missouri General Assembly unanimously passed the Task Force recommendations, strengthening the state’s provisions for protecting victims and prosecuting offenders.
Colleen Coble, Chief Executive Officer of the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (MCADSV), thanked Koster for his letter to Congress, and for his “ongoing commitment to prevent, address, and end violence against women.”
“Attorney General Koster’s letter in support of the reauthorization of the federal Violence Against Women Act is another testament to his leadership and support,” Coble said. “We at MCADSV, our 125-member programs throughout the state, and all of the thousands of advocates working daily to help victims become survivors, sincerely appreciate the Attorney General’s words that are coupled with effective actions.”