ROSEBURG, Ore. (KMTR) - The Violence Against Women Act's revision will provide legal services for more people
Last week the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was revised and now more victims will be able to receive services for domestic violence and sexual abuse cases. Congress originally passed the Act in 1994 to provide funding for organizations that provide services for victims of domestic violence. The House passed the Senate's new version of VAWA on Thursday, which includes legal support for same-sex couples and other minorities.
The Battered Persons' Advocacy (BPA) in Roseburg provides free legal services for victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse. The organization has two legal advocates who assist victims free of charge. In 2012, BPA assisted victims with obtaining over 400 restraining orders. Before Congress passed the new revision, BPA was unable to provide these legal services for same-sex couples. BPA could provide other services for same-sex couples, but were unable to prosecute for them.
The Act's revision also expands services to native Americans who are assaulted by non-native Americans on reservations. Native American courts now have the ability to prosecute. Another revision in the Act includes services for anyone who is a victim of domestic violence regardless of gender, sexual orientation or immigration status.
The revised Act includes a seventeen percent decrease in funds across the nation but BPA in Roseburg says the cuts will have a small impact on its organization. Today, BPA receives sixty percent of its funding from government sources, thirty percent of which comes from the Violence Against Women Act. Despite the budget cuts, BPA says it will still be able to provide legal services for victims.
"We are really excited about the reinstatement of the bill," said Melanie Prummer, the Executive Director at BPA. "Of course we are all experiencing budget cuts across the board, but the good news is that we have a supportive community."
Prummer said that forty percent of BPA's funding comes from private foundations and local contributors, including churches, businesses and individual contributions. She said that the Douglas County community has been supportive of the organization.
BPA offers free legal services Monday through Friday at 7:30 AM at the Douglas County Courthouse. The organization has two legal advocates who are available to assist victims free of charge.
BPA is also sponsoring Roseburg's sixth annual Walk A Mile in Her Shoes® event on April 26 at 4:00 PM. The event is presented by The International Men's March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault & Gender Violence and gives men the opportunity to walk a mile in downtown Roseburg in high-heeled shoes.
For more information about the BPA, you can call its 24-hour crisis line at 541 673-7867 or visit http://www.peaceathome.com
where you can also register for the Walk A Mile event.