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Simpson Case Spotlights Spouse Abuse in US

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`ONE woman is beaten every 15 seconds, 3 [million] to 4 million are battered each year.''

The statistics from the United States Office of Criminal Justice are splashed across TV screens leading in and out of commercial breaks for the talk show, ``Live in L.A.'' They are also on the lips of L.A. District Attorney Gil Garcetti and deputies as they stand before scores of cameras broadcasting each new wrinkle in the case of accused murderer O.J. Simpson - who was fined by a court in 1989 for abusing his wife.

Across the US, the hottest topic of the year has become domestic violence.

``Guilty or not guilty, the O.J. Simpson case has brought the spotlight of the world to the issue of battered women as never before,'' says Barbara Blunt, board member of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), a national, grass-roots organization headquartered in Washington D.C.

On average, 10 women a day are killed by their batterers, the National Organization for Women has reported.

From larger organizations like Ms. Blunt's to smaller ones such as the Los Angeles Commission on Assaults Against Women, groups across the country are mobilizing to harness national attention for renewed public support. Some will increase lobbying of local, state, and national legislators for tougher laws against spousal abuse. Others will work harder to educate judges on how to better spot chronic abuse patterns and how to sentence convicted batterers so as to minimize economic hardship to families - and to minimize further violence.

A bill before the US House that would give money to state coalitions to educate judges and police about domestic violence - the Family Violence Prevention and Service Act (HB 4209) - has received a significant boost in recent days, according to activists. And the California state Assembly this week approved a resolution requiring judges to learn more about the importance of domestic violence cases by attending a one-day training session each year.


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