WASHINGTON, March 16 (Reuters) – President Joe Biden on Wednesday said it is time to change the culture and not just U.S. law to stop violence against women as he celebrated expanded protections for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence.
A day earlier, Biden signed a spending bill that included a renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, which also provides more resources and training programs for law enforcement, among other steps.
Every month, an average of 70 women are shot and killed by an intimate partner in the United States, according to a new report that claims intimate partner violence and gun violence in the U.S. are inextricably linked.
Experts say stay-at-home orders linked to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak appear to have contributed to a spike in domestic violence.
“Change the culture, not just the law,” Biden said at a White House event attended by advocates, survivors of abuse and lawmakers.
“It really wasn’t so long ago this country didn’t want to talk about violence against women, let alone it being a national epidemic – something government had to address. As a society, we literally looked away.”
Biden said the law will now do more for survivors in rural areas and in underserved communities. For example, tribal courts will now be able to exercise jurisdiction over non-native perpetrators of sexual assault and sex trafficking, he said.
As a senator, Biden helped craft the bill, which was originally signed into law in 1994. It expired under then-President Donald Trump in 2019.
In 2018, the United States was named as the only Western nation among the 10 most dangerous countries for women in a Thomson Reuters Foundation survey of global experts, after the #MeToo campaign triggered a flood of complaints about sexual harassment and assault.
(Reporting by Nandita Bose and Jeff Mason in Washington; Additional reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)