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AG (202) 514-2008 TDD (202) 514-1888

ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO AND HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY SHALALA MEET WITH ADVISORY COUNCIL ON VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ANNOUNCEMENT COMES AS HOUSE SUBCOMMITTEES SLASH FUNDING WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Attorney General Janet Reno and Health and Human Services Secretary Donna E. Shalala today named 41 national leaders to an Advisory Council on Violence Against Women, to provide them with practical and general policy advice concerning the implementation of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act. The announcement was made at a press conference this morning at the White House Conference Center. The 41 member Advisory Council met for a day long meeting following the announcement. The Advisory Council meeting coincides with Congressional efforts to cut funding for federal efforts to combat violence against women. In recent days, two House Appropriations Subcommittees have cut funding for Justice Department and Health and Human Services Department programs authorized under the Violence Against Women Act. On June 28th, the House Commerce, Justice, State Appropriations Subcommittee cut nearly $100 million of funding for the Justice Department's Violence Against Women Act programs in Fiscal Year 1996. On July 11th, the House Labor/HHS Appropriations Subcommittee reneged on the commitment to assist local anti-violence programs by slashing nearly $62 million from HHS's Violence Against Women Act programs. The HHS cuts wipe out new money for shelter and advocacy services and rape prevention and education services. The Subcommittee did keep $400,000 for a domestic violence hotline, but a hotline cannot help women in need if there are not adequate resources in the community. Despite the Congressional attacks, Attorney General Reno insisted that the effort to fight domestic violence would move forward. "This is an important step in implementing President Clinton's Crime Bill, and in developing an effective national response to the problems of domestic violence and sexual assaults," the Attorney General said. "Too often in the past, violence against women has gone unreported and unprosecuted. That time has passed. We need to educate all Americans about the serious nature of these crimes and the tools that are available to prevent them from occurring." "Domestic violence is a serious public health problem," Secretary Shalala said. "As a result, we need doctors to do a lot more than treat injuries. We need our medical personnel to find out how the patient was injured. We need them to help prevent it

from happening over and over. And we need medical workers to learn guidelines for treating abuse and learn where they can send victims for help. That is why the work and advice of this council is so badly needed." The Advisory Council's 41 members include prominent leaders in law enforcement, public health, victims rights, social services, the business community, religious organizations, higher education, and other fields. (A complete list of members is attached.) The Advisory Council's mission is to promote greater awareness of the problem of violence against women, and work to devise solutions. Members of the Advisory Council were selected based on their background and interest in the issue of violence against women, particularly domestic violence and sexual assault. In addition, the membership reflects a balance of professional perspective and geography. The Advisory Council will work to coordinate among professions by building bridges between law enforcement and health care agencies, between the public and private sectors, and among federal and state and local governments, to create a seamless system that addresses the diverse needs of women and families in crisis. As opinion leaders in their respective communities, Advisory Council members will also work to change societal perceptions and in spreading the message that violence against women is unacceptable and detrimental to our entire society. Both Reno and Shalala emphasized the importance of bringing together a wide range of professions to encourage multi-faceted solutions to fighting domestic violence and sexual assaults. "The solutions will not be found by government alone," Reno said. The Violence Against Women Act was signed into law in September, 1994, by President Clinton as part of the 1994 Crime Control Act. It combines tough law enforcement provisions with new federal funding for states and communities to assist victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault. Both Reno and Shalala criticized the efforts to cut funding. "The House Subcommittee cuts mean fewer shelters, fewer police, and fewer prosecutors working to protect women from domestic violence and sexual assaults," Attorney General Reno stated. "This is not a productive debate and goes back on the promise that a bi-partisan majority of Congress made to beleaguered women and families when they passed the Act last year." "The Advisory Council will bring to national attention successful, multi-faceted solutions fighting domestic violence and sexual assault," Secretary Shalala said. "It will help the Attorney General and me devise and implement real solutions to the problem of violence against women." "The Advisory Council is about results, not reports," the Attorney General noted. "It was not created to issue yet another

government study. Rather, the members will help us devise and implement real solutions to reduce the problem of violence against women." ### 95-388