SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - While lawmakers were scrambling to keep Americans from falling off the fiscal cliff a historic measure went by the wayside. The 112th congress wrapped up without re-authorizing the Violence Against Women Act. This is the first time that's happened since 1994.
Domestic violence in the U.S. is the leading cause of injury to women; more than car accidents, muggings and rapes combined. To curb those numbers congress enacted the Violence Against Women Act.
Gary Scheller, Director of the State of Utah Office for Victims of Crime told ABC 4 News about the importance of the VAWA. Scheller said, "It was created…to develop programs to stop violence against women, create safe places for victims to be and…hold offenders more accountable."
The law means Utah sees 4.3 million dollars, more than a million of which passes through the state's office for Victims of Crime.
"Last year alone the funding coming though this office provided assistance to almost 31,000 victims in the state of Utah,” said Scheller.
The failure of congress to reauthorize the law doesn't men Utah will stop seeing that funding, but it won't be expanded to help all those who need it.
The senate wanted to extend protections to gays, lesbians and Native Americans, but the house bill didn't contain those provisions which supporters say are necessary.
"Estimates across the county, and here in Utah, show females on Indian reservations are 5 to 10 times more likely to be victims than those who are not,” said Scheller.
It’s now up to the 113th congress to reintroduce the legislation, ensure funding and possibly expand protections.