"A woman should not have to plead with local law enforcement to be protected from vicious, gender-based violence," NOW President Patricia Ireland said. "The recent horrendous attacks in New York City's Central Park and the reports of outrageous police indifference must spur political action. Congress must pass the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act to extend hate crimes protection to women and pass the reauthorization and expansion of the Violence Against Women Act."
The Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act would improve access to federal resources to assist local and state law enforcement officials in better investigating and prosecuting bias-related crimes. It would also extend coverage to gender, sexual orientation and disability, and eliminate the requirement that the victim be engaged in a federally protected activity such as voting. The Violence Against Women Act would fund training for police and other law enforcement and court personnel, among other things.
"Conservative members of Congress are sitting in Washington tossing around rhetoric while every day women across the country face gender-based violence," Ireland said. "The Central Park attacks have received national attention, but the problem remains."
"Perhaps with enhanced resources and training, police on the scene in Central Park would have been better equipped to respond immediately to allegations of sexual assaults in progress," said Ireland, referring to reports that some victims were rebuffed when they sought assistance from the police.
"Women must turn our shock and outrage into political pressure and power," Ireland said. "We demand that members of Congress take immediate action to pass the anti-violence bills before them. We will be watching, and women will remember in November."