The House of Representatives approved legislation Wednesday that includes $755 million to reduce the backlog in unanalyzed DNA in rape cases. Passed by a 357 to 67 vote, the Advancing Justice through DNA Technology Act of 2003 will also provide funds to train law enforcement, medical and judicial professionals working on sexual assault cases.

U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, a Democrat from New York, is the original author of The Debbie Smith Act, a precursor to the recently passed legislation. “This new law will pull rapists off the streets and throw them behind bars, case closed,” Maloney told the Western Queens Gazette of New York. “By processing DNA evidence from prior rape crimes, we can identify repeat rapists, stop them in their tracks, and prevent thousands of future sexual assaults from ever occurring. This is truly lifesaving legislation. Rape kits should be in the lab undergoing analysis, not stuck on the shelves of a warehouse.”


During Halloween, in Seattle, Washington, Wal-Mart’s shelves stocked a new type of costume–a mail-order bride wedding dress, replete with postage stamps and postmarks.

U.S. Rep. Velma Veloria, a Democrat from Seattle, was outraged by the costume. “Mail order bride, as part of a Halloween costume. (That) means it’s acceptable to be a mail-order bride. And we’re fighting so hard to say it’s not. It’s part of what we call international trafficking of women,” Veloria told the local news station, KING 5 News earlier this month. Veloria co-sponsored a bill that became law in September 2002 to combat the trafficking of women and children.

U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, a Democrat from Washington who this year introduced legislation regulating marriage brokers after the 2000 murder of Kyrgyz mail-order bride Anastasia King by her husband, told KING 5 News, “It is outrageous and offensive, demeaning of real women who are threatened every day by abusers.”

Wal-Mart did not return Women’s eNews’ calls for comment.

— Carline Bennett.