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Capuano Amendment Creating International Rape Counseling Program Passes with Legislation in House

July 22, 1999 -- U.S. Representative Mike Capuano offered an amendment to H.R. 2415, "The American Embassy Security Act of 1999" (also known as the State Department FY 2000, Authorization bill) authorizing $2.5 million for the creation of an international rape counseling program. The amendment was approved and H.R. 2415 passed on a voice vote last night. It now moves to the Senate for consideration.

In a letter to the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Capuano stated, "During the recent conflict in Kosovo, the world received horrific reports of Serbian troops abducting Kosovar women and forcing them into rape camps. As contemptible and immoral as these acts are, the methodic use of rape as part of a strategy of war is not new. Within many of this century's conflicts, rape has been used as a powerful tool."

In preparing the amendment, Rep. Capuano worked closely with the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC). Staff members from BARCC also briefed the Congressman after their return from the first international conference on rape as a war crime, sponsored by the European Union in Vienna in June.

Rep. Capuano's amendment directs that $2.5 million of the funding already authorized in the State Department's Migration and Refugee Assistance account be set aside for a rape counseling program to assist women in war torn countries who have been victimized by rape. Currently, five types of programs geared towards assisting refugees are authorized for funding. Rep. Capuano's amendment would add an international rape counseling program to the programs already eligible for funding. Rep. Capuano's amendment adds the following language to H.R. 2415: "Of the amounts authorized to be appropriated in paragraph (1), $2,500,000 for the fiscal year 2000 are authorized to be appropriated only for a United States based rape counseling program for assistance to women who have been victimized by the systematic use of rape as a weapon in times of conflict and war."

The amendment requires the State Department to use the $2.5 million specifically for international rape counseling initiatives. The State Department will determine the structure of the program.

"In many cultures, like in Kosovo, social stigmas associated with rape are catastrophic for the entire family. This program will provide much needed emergency services to the victims of these horrific crimes as well as their families," stated Rep. Capuano.