[Congressional Record Volume 140, Number 79 (Tuesday, June 21, 1994)]
[Page S]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]

[Congressional Record: June 21, 1994]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

                         VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

  Mrs. BOXER. Mr. President, I thank the Chair, and I thank the 
distinguished chairman for giving me this time. I know we are making 
good progress on the bill before us, but I felt it important to take 
the floor for a brief time to talk about a very important issue.
  Mr. President, throughout American history, women have changed the 
course of debate in this country. Rosa Parks refused to sit in the back 
of the bus, and the Nation's attention was focused to the issue of 
racial injustice. Anita Hill stepped forward to testify before 
Congress, and the Nation focused on sexual harassment in the workplace. 
And now, Mr. President, a terrible event in California, the death of a 
young mother, brings a tragic issue to the forefront: The brutality and 
the terror of spousal abuse.
  We should not jump to conclusions about who was responsible for 
Nicole Simpson's murder. But we do know from the Los Angeles Police 
Department that she was repeatedly beaten by her former husband, once 
so badly that she had to be hospitalized. As reported in the Los 
Angeles Times, she was bruised and bloodied and slapped so hard, Mr. 
President, that a hand print was left on her neck.
  What we do know is that the criminal justice system is guilty because 
it routinely turns its back on this form of brutality and leaves too 
many women out in the cold.
  Mr. President, beating is beating. Blood spilled is blood spilled. 
Whether it occurs at the hands of a stranger or a family member, there 
should be no difference in the way it is viewed. It is time for action 
to prevent violence in the home. The excuse that ``This is just a 
family matter'' is no longer acceptable. ``I love her so much that I 
lost myself'' are words that must be seen as a cry for help from both 
spouses in the relationship.
  Today, I join President Clinton and several of my colleagues on both 
sides of the aisle in calling for immediate action on the crime bill, 
which appears to be stalled in the conference.
  Passage of this bill is now more important than ever, Mr. President, 
not only because of its many provisions to make our streets and our 
schools safer, but also because it includes the only comprehensive 
piece of legislation to pass the House and Senate on the issue of 
violence against women.
  Four years ago, Senator Joe Biden, the distinguished chairman of the 
Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced the Violence Against Women Act. 
I was extremely pleased that he asked me to author the House version at 
that time, which I did, and I did it every year that I was in the House 
of Representatives. We have pushed and pushed to make this bill law 
ever since.
  The Violence Against Women Act provides police, prosecutor, and 
judicial training on dealing with spousal abuse. It funds services to 
victims, such as shelters for battered women and children.
  By the way, Mr. President, we have more shelters in this country for 
animals than we do for women and children. We need action now. We need 
prevention programs now.
  Two years ago, we were successful in enacting a few provisions into 
law. As part of the Higher Education Act, we secured funding for rape 
prevention programs on college campuses. When Congress reauthorized the 
Family Violence Prevention and Services Act, the only Federal program 
that provides funding to battered women shelters, we secured more 
funding for these services, as well as public education campaigns.
  But we are still struggling, Mr. President, to enact the majority of 
this bill. I am proud to see on the floor the chairman of the Judiciary 
Committee, Joe Biden, who has led this fight before anyone knew what 
the problem was. Well, maybe our colleagues did not feel the sense of 
urgency then when we began, but it is critical that we act now. We 
cannot let another year go by. We cannot let another day go by. The 
Violence Against Women Act must be passed as part of the crime bill. I 
especially urge my colleagues on the conference to follow Senator 
Biden's lead and vote for the authorization level of $1.8 billion.

  That is crucial in our efforts. I said we could not wait another day. 
Let me correct myself, Mr. President. We cannot wait another minute 
because every 15 seconds a woman is beaten in America. An estimated 2 
to 4 million women are battered by their spouses or partners every 
year. As many as one-fifth to one-third of all women who visit 
emergency rooms are victims of spousal abuse. In 1992, approximately 30 
percent of all women murdered--nearly 1,400 wives and girlfriends--were 
slain by their husbands or boyfriends. Let me repeat that, Mr. 
President--1,400 wives and girlfriends were slain by their husbands or 
  To all Americans who care about this issue, who want to act now to 
save the lives of innocent people, please help Senator Biden push this 
crime bill through. Look. We have partisan differences around here. We 
fight about a lot of things. But this President is right when he says 
let us move swiftly and in a bipartisan fashion on this crime bill. 
Every 15 seconds a woman is battered. Mr. President, let us act now.
  We saw what happened in California. But it happens every 15 seconds.
  I see my distinguished colleague here. If I have any time remaining, 
I yield it to him, and if I do not, I ask unanimous consent that he be 
granted 3 or 4 minutes to comment at this time.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from California has just under 4 
minutes remaining.
  Mrs. BOXER. Then I yield the remainder of my time to my friend and 
colleague and a great leader on this--he deserves all our thanks--
Senator Biden.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Delaware.
  Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, I thank the Senator from California for her 
generous remarks.
  The truth of the matter is, although 5 years ago I wrote this bill--
this bill, I might add, did not move until my friend from California 
came to the U.S. Senate. She was the original sponsor in the House on 
this legislation. But when she came to the U.S. Senate, all of a sudden 
I found that my exhortations to my colleagues took on a new dimension. 
When I stood up and cited the statistics that my friend from California 
cites, people listened, and we got it passed. But there was not much 
sense of urgency. But when the distinguished Senator from California 
came and made the case with the passion and urgency that she does, 
literally things begin to move.
  I am pleased to tell Senator Boxer and my colleagues that in the 
crime conference so far, the chairman of the conference, Mr. Brooks, 
and the President of the United States, through the Attorney General, 
have agreed to the language that Senator Boxer and I originally 
introduced 4 years ago, which is that it has all the provisions and 
full funding.
  Now we have not had a vote in the full conference on that yet, but I 
fully expect that it will survive.
  Let me point out that the most important thing it seems to me about 
the passage of the violence against women's legislation which in a 
sense has been submerged in the larger crime bill, if this bill all by 
itself were being debated, it would be one of the major pieces of 
legislation we would be acting on as a Congress. But because we were 
able to include it in the overall crime bill at the last minute, in 
effect, increasing its prospects of passage, it has somehow been lost 
sight of.
  The reason why it is important that it not be lost sight of is 
because not that it will affect substantively what actually it 
allocates to the States, actually allocated to fight violence against 
women, but because the public at large is unaware of what we are doing.
  One of the most important things about the violence against women 
legislation in my view and the reason why I wrote the legislation in 
the first instance is it is designed not only to substantively change 
the law but to indirectly change attitudes in America.
  To use a trite Washington expression, the bottom line of the violence 
against women legislation is that no man under any circumstance, for 
any reason other than self-defense, has a right to touch a woman 
without her permission, period. No ifs, ands, or buts. This is about 
power, physical power, and violence against women and particularly 
domestic violence, which is a misnomer. There is nothing domestic about 
it. That makes it sound like domestic cats as opposed to wild cats. The 
truth is we should drop that phrase.
  It is violence, pure and simple, and one of the things we have to do 
is change attitudes.
  Let me just suggest to you one of the States in the Nation in 1987 
surveyed all of their seventh, eighth, and ninth grade students and 
asked the following question, and I am paraphrasing: If a man spends 
$10 on a woman on a date and then demands to have sex with her and she 
refuses, is he entitled to use force?
  Somewhere around 34 percent of the young men in this State said yes, 
and an astounding 24 percent of the young women said yes.
  We must change attitudes about what a man can do. We have to drop 
phrases like ``my woman.'' The idea that any man has a right to touch a 
woman, whether she is a saint or a prostitute, is not relevant. No man 
has a right to lay a hand on a woman in anger without her permission--
and that is an oxymoron. If she is angry, she is not going to be giving 
permission. That is the attitude we have to change.
  My hope is when we pass this legislation, it will not only 
substantively make things safer for women, increasing everything from 
battered women shelters, to lighting, to education of prosecutors and 
judges, but it also will give women, in addition to the criminal cause 
of action, for the first time in our history, a civil cause of action.
  So not only will the man go to jail if the woman can prove she was a 
victim of violence because of her sex, she can take his car, his house, 
his savings account. She can be empowered not to have to wait for the 
State to decide whether to proceed. She can proceed. And until women 
are empowered that way, things will not change.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator's time has expired.
  Mrs. BOXER. I thank the Senator.
  Mr. BIDEN. I thank the Chair.