- The Washington Times - Friday, April 6, 2001

Attorney General John Ashcroft yesterday said the Bush administration intends to ask Congress for an additional $102.5 million for programs to combat violence against women.
"We want to reduce violence in specific and target areas and help communities address violence against women by assisting in prosecution and victims' assistance," Mr. Ashcroft said in a speech before the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences and Criminal Justice Journalists in Washington.
President Bush's proposed 2001 budget seeks the increase over this year's funding level for Justice Department programs that implement the 1994 Violence Against Women Act.
The Justice Department was awarded $288 million this year for grants to states and communities to combat violence against women. The act seeks to address sexual assault, domestic violence and the stalking of women and to provide advocacy, emergency shelters, police protection and legal aid to women.
Mr. Ashcroft is no stranger to the fight for more money to combat violence against women. As Missouri's attorney general, governor and later its U.S. senator, he fought for and obtained funds for programs to help women who had been the target of violent acts.
As governor, he secured $100 million in increased funding to combat violence against women.
During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in January, Mr. Ashcroft said that continuing violence against women threatened to deny them their "fundamental rights to be secure" and he pledged to forcefully enforce the 1994 Violence Against Women Act.
The act established new penalties with programs to prosecute offenders and assist female victims of violence, including services to battered women and shelters, programs to reduce sexual abuse among runaways, homeless and street youth as well as grants to states for rape-prevention and education programs.
Over the past several years, violence against women has seen a dramatic increase. A 1998 report by two federal agencies, the first collaborative study on violence jointly funded by the Justice and Health and Human Services departments, found that more than 17 million women or about 18 percent of the U.S. population have been raped or been a victim of attempted rape during their lifetimes.
The report also noted that more than half of the country's female population have been physically assaulted some time during their lives including being slapped, hit or threatened with a weapon. In addition, it said 54 percent of those reporting they had been raped were under the age of 17 when the assault took place.

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