By Karen James
Saturday, December 17, 2005
After hanging in limbo for months, legislation that would fund existing and new programs that aid victims of domestic violence broke through an impasse this week and appeared headed for quick enactment. House and Senate lawmakers reached an agreement Friday that would allow the measure to win final passage before the end of the year and perhaps as early as this weekend. The 10-year-old Violence Against Women Act expired Sept. 30 and is temporarily being funded at last year's levels.
"The House and Senate Judiciary Committees have done their job and we are so pleased that they have reached this agreement on a strong bill that will help save lives," said Lynn Rosenthal, the president of the National Network to End Domestic Violence in a release.
The bill that is expected to pass will authorize funding of $3.935 billion over five years, a 21 percent increase over the $3.241 billion last authorized in 2000.
There were a few sticking points holding up the bill, mainly on provisions involving immigrant outreach programs and guaranteed housing for victims of domestic violence and stalking. Compromises were reached in both areas, leaving Allison Randall of the National Network to End Domestic Violence "very pleased" with the anticipated outcome.
Socialist presidential candidate Michelle Bachelet is poised to make history if she becomes Chile's first female president in January, Reuters reported. Results from the Dec. 11 election found that Bachelet, a medical doctor and former defense minister, had won nearly 46 percent of the vote, about 20 percentage points higher than her billionaire opponent, Sebastian Pinera, a moderate conservative. She will now face a runoff election against Pinera on Jan. 15.
If she wins, Bachelet has pledged to continue the liberal social programs and free-market economic policies of her predecessor. "Today in Chile, one third of households are run by women," Bachelet told Women's eNews before the election. "We wake up, get the children ready and go to work. To them I am hope."
Hundreds of battered immigrant women have been forced to choose between safety and food after they were denied cash assistance, food stamps and other social benefits, The New York Times reported Thursday. Lawyers on behalf of more than a dozen plaintiffs filed suit in federal court Tuesday in a last-resort effort to force New York City and state officials to remedy the computer programming errors and faulty staff training that led to the situation.
The suit alleges that a computer pull-down menu that mistakenly lacks a "battered qualified alien" category causes case workers who enter information into the system to automatically reject the client. Additionally, faulty state training manuals compound the problem.
"We have clients who have chosen to return to the abuser rather than not to have food for their children," Elizabeth S. Saylor, a lawyer with the Domestic Violence Project of the Legal Aid Society, told the Times.
Despite an approximate 70 percent voter turnout in the Iraqi general election on Thursday, activists' fears that some women would be kept from the polls were confirmed. An election round-up issued by the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting said that some women the more conservative areas of Iraq were not permitted to go to the polls. Nada Yassin from Mosul is quoted as saying her husband directed her not to vote for former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi.
"My husband would not let me vote for Allawi," she claimed her husband told her. "He told me, 'If you vote for Allawi, then you have to go to Allawi's instead of coming home.'" Also, while reporting from Falluja, National Public Radio correspondent Anne Garrels confirmed seeing men voting on behalf of women, against election rules.
--Allison Stevens contributed to this report.
Karen James is a Women's eNews intern and master's candidate at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Allison Stevens is Washington bureau chief for Women's eNews.
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