By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Guam has received additional federal funds to combat sexual assault and aid victims of violence, according to the Office of Sen. Mary Camacho Torres.
According to the Governor’s Community Outreach Federal Programs Office today, Guam received $146,128 from the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Violence Against Women (OVW) Sexual Assault Services Formula Grant Program (SASP) funding for 2022.
The grant amount is more than double its award of $65,000 prior to the passage of Guam Public Law 35-91, which was authored by Torres.
“We are very appreciative of Sen. Torres’ efforts to help women heal from the trauma of sexual assault through legislation such as Public Law 35-91,” said Jayne Flores, director of the Bureau of Women’s Affairs. “Not only does it help the victim and her child, but it also helps our efforts to further fund victim services.
Introduced by Torres in 2019, Public Law 35-91 terminates the parent-child relationship of a parent if they are found by “clear and convincing evidence” of committing sexual assault resulting in the conception of the child.
Prior to Torres’ introduction, rapists were free and clear to pursue custody or visitation rights so long as they were not deemed an unfit parents.
Under the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act (U.S. Public Law No. 114-22), U.S. jurisdictions with laws that allow parental rights termination under the clear and convincing standard are eligible for additional funds in their Stop Violence Against Women (STOP) and Sexual Assault Services formula awards.
Since the enactment of P.L. 35-91 in June 2020, Guam’s SASP funding has steadily increased, with GCO-FPO receiving $125,497 in 2021. In addition, Guam’s STOP formula grant award for 2022 is $671,837.
“No victim should be forced to raise their child alongside their attacker,” said Torres. “Thanks to the enactment of this common-sense policy, survivors and their children are protected from their abuser under our law and have greater access to the critical services they need and deserve.”