Victim rights advocates from throughout Colorado and the nation applauded yesterday’s renewal of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and the SAFER Act, which was authored by Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet and included in VAWA’s renewal. SAFER is designed to help reduce the national rape kit backlog.
The bipartisan bill passed the House of Representatives yesterday in a 286-138 vote and now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law. It passed the Senate on February 12.
“The SAFER Act is the first step to giving victims a voice and a chance for justice,” Candy Luv McLeish, a survivor of sexual assault in Colorado, said. “It is absolutely crucial to catching criminals and bringing them to justice. Going through a rape kit examination is an incredibly invasive experience and to think that those kits sometimes go untested is awful. Police should have the resources to be able to test these kits as efficiently and quickly as possible to prevent the same attacker from striking again.”
“The Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CCASA) commends the addition of the SAFER Act into the re-authorized Violence Against Women Act (VAWA),” Karen Moldovan, CCASA program manager, said. “In order to obtain rape kit evidence, victims must go through a medical forensic exam. This exam can be a difficult process for victims who have recently endured trauma. When victims decide to have the evidence collected, it is imperative that the evidence is taken seriously. The provisions of SAFER work to ensure that local law enforcement agencies have the resources and tools necessary to address rape kit backlogs and hold offenders accountable in our communities."
“The Sexual Assault Victim Advocate Center is thrilled and relieved to hear that the Violence Against Women Act has passed in Congress,” Jennifer Jones, Executive Director of SAVA in Fort Collins, Colorado, said. “This legislation is so important to sustaining cost-effective resources for victims of sexual assault. VAWA sets the tone for addressing violence against women and we are extremely pleased to know that we are continuing to make progress in this area.”
“The House renewal of the Violence Against Women Act is great news,” John McGee, Executive Director of the Crossroads Safehouse in Fort Collins, Colorado, said. “It will provide my organization and similar ones around the country the ability to continue offering services to victims of domestic violence and intimate partner abuse. This day has been long in coming.”
"We owe a huge thank you to Senators Bennet and Cornyn, and Representatives Poe and Maloney,” said Scott Berkowitz, President and Founder of the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN). “They fought very hard to get SAFER passed. The result of all their hard work will be the reduction of the DNA backlog and the prosecution of many more rapists.”