FACT SHEET: Combatting Violence against Women
**Funding in the President’s FY 2015 Budget Aims to Reduce Backlog of Untested Rape Kits and Assist Prosecution of Sexual Assault Cases**
Sexual violence is more than just a crime against individuals. It threatens our families, it threatens our communities; ultimately, it threatens the entire country. It tears apart the fabric of our communities. And that’s why we’re here today -- because we have the power to do something about it as a government, as a nation. We have the capacity to stop sexual assault, support those who have survived it, and bring perpetrators to justice.
President Obama, January 22, 2014
Freedom from sexual assault is a basic human right… a nation’s decency is in large part measured by how it responds to violence against women… our daughters, our sisters, our wives, our mothers, our grandmothers have every single right to expect to be free from violence and sexual abuse.
Vice President Biden, January 22, 2014
WHAT THE PRESIDENT’S FY 2015 BUDGET DELIVERS:
A New Grant Program to Test More Rape Kits and Improve Sexual Assault Investigations. A rape kit is the forensic evidence, including DNA, collected from a survivor by a nurse or doctor after a rape or sexual assault occurs. It can be vital to successfully investigating these crimes and holding perpetrators accountable.
When a rape kit is tested, a unique DNA profile can often be identified and submitted to the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), which includes nationwide DNA samples from crime scenes, convicted offenders, and arrestees. DNA from crimes like rape and sexual assault can be matched to other samples in the database, identifying assailants and linking crimes together. A rape kit can identify an unknown attacker, confirm the identity of a known suspect, affirm a survivor’s story, and help catch serial rapists before they strike again.
Today, many rape kits are stored untested in police evidence rooms or backlogged at crime labs. But when jurisdictions test and follow-up on their backlogged kits, the results are encouraging: new DNA matches in the criminal database have been found, arrest rates for rape have jumped, and more serial rapists have been identified.
The Budget provides $35 million for a new grant program to inventory and test rape kits, develop “cold case” units to pursue new investigative leads, and support victims throughout the process. Grants will also be used to develop evidence-tracking systems, train law enforcement on sexual assault investigations, and conduct research on outcomes in sexual assault cases.
Continued Efforts to Combat Violence Against Women. The Budget provides $423 million to reinforce efforts to combat and respond to violent crimes against women. As a result of prior investments in this area, civil and criminal justice systems are more responsive to victims, rates of domestic violence have dropped, and more perpetrators have been put behind bars. Yet, reducing such violence and meeting the needs of the 1.3 million women victimized by rape and sexual assault annually, and the nearly seven million victims of intimate partner violence each year, remains a critical priority.
This funding includes $193 million for STOP Grants to Combat Violence Against Women, $42 million to provide legal services to victims, $27 million for the Sexual Assault Services Program, and $11 million to reduce violent crimes against women on campus.
Support for Victims of Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking. The Budget also provides $140 million for shelters, supportive services, and a national hotline for victims of domestic violence, including $10 million for an initiative that provides direct services to domestic victims of trafficking, trains service providers, and invests in data collection, research, and evaluation.