Guam – The House of Representatives Wednesday approved legislation that will help victims of child abuse and domestic violence in the Northern Mariana Islands and throughout the United States. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan served as the floor manager for S. 3817, reauthorizing the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act and the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act. The bill includes provisions developed by Sablan making the Northern Marianas Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence eligible for about $240,000 in federal funding. Currently, the Northern Marianas Coalition receives no support from the Family Violence program.
“The problem of domestic violence in our community is something that most of us have seen,” said Sablan. “But the resources to help the victims of family violence or to help families deal with the problems that lead to violent behavior are lacking.
“The Guma Esperanza on Saipan is stretched beyond capacity. And Tinian and Rota don’t even have shelters for people who need protection from the situation in their homes.
“So, I am very glad that after more than a year of hard work we have passed the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act to provide funding that the Northern Marianas Coalition needs to address domestic violence.”
S. 3817 now goes to the Senate for an expected quick approval before being sent to the President for signature into law.
Sablan was an original co-sponsor of the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act, H.R. 4416, in the House of Representatives, when it was introduced in November 2009. Sablan had language included that gives domestic violence coalitions in the NMI, American Samoa, Guam, and the Virgin Islands a full “state” share of funding. Presently, the four territories have to share one state allocation, which in 2009 was $240,000.
“The Northern Marianas Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence brought this issue to my attention last year,” Sablan said. “And the timing was right to get the law amended so that the Coalition could get a full state share of funding.
“This money will enable the Coalition to improve the important shelter, counseling, and intervention and prevention services that it provides to victims of sexual and domestic assault.
“I particularly hope that this will also mean that we can have shelters on three islands—Rota, Tinian, and Saipan.
“At present, the single shelter on Saipan is inaccessible to victims who are living on Tinian and Rota,” said Kilili.
Kilili, introduced H.R. 4116 along with Representatives Gwen Moore (D-WI), Aaron Schock (R-IL), and Judy Biggert (R-IL).
“Members of both parties worked together to ensure the insular areas are able to provide protection to victims of domestic and sexual violence, as we do in the rest of the United States,” Kilili said.
Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT) authored the Senate companion bill, S. 3817.
The bill reauthorizes FVPSA at $175 million each year from fiscal 2011 through 2015, the same amount currently allowed.
The National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence weighed in to support the bill this week. In a letter to Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller (D-CA) the coalition, which includes the National Organization of Women and other large groups, wrote that “domestic violence is a devastating, life-threatening crime that impacts one in four women over a lifetime and 15.5 million children a year.
“FVPSA-funded programs are at the heart of our nation’s response to domestic violence – providing lifesaving services such as emergency shelter, hotline support, counseling, safety planning, legal assistance, advocacy, and primary and secondary prevention. These services not only save lives but also provide the comprehensive support victims need to recover from the physical, emotional and economic impacts of abuse.”
On Wednesday Sablan also managed floor debate on H.R. 5012, a bill establishing a program to provide nutritious food to at-risk school children on weekends and during extended school holidays during the school year. The bill passed by voice vote and now goes to the Senate for action.