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Nearly 1,000 women in the Buffalo area have called the National Domestic Violence Hot Line since 1996, Rep. Charles E. Schumer of Brooklyn said here Sunday.

"There are still husbands out there who think it's OK to beat their wives," noted Schumer, the author of the National Violence Against Women Act. He is seeking the Democratic nomination to oppose Republican Sen. Alfonse M. D'Amato in the November election.

"We still have a serious problem of domestic violence in this country," Schumer said.

Twelve thousand women in this state, among 150,000 nationally, have called the 2-year-old, 24-hour hot line (1-800-799-SAFE, 1-800-787-3224), he noted.

"Every seven minutes, a women reaches out for help," he added.

Speaking on the steps of City Hall, Schumer was joined by the Erie County Legislature's majority leader, Crystal D. Peoples, and Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, both D-Buffalo, in calling for passage of Schumer's newly introduced Violence Against Women Act II.

The first bill, which established the National Domestic Violence Hot Line, has brought more than $13 million into the state to fund shelters, train law enforcement and prevent sexual assault, he said. The Erie County district attorney's office received $165,000.

The second bill, Schumer noted, would reauthorize the first law and seeks to change attitudes about violence against women.

"(Violence Against Women Act II) is about educating children and teen-agers that violence against women is unacceptable," he said. "It's about teaching women who have been assaulted or harassed that there is a place to go to seek help and justice. It's about teaching respect, and, most importantly, it's about stopping crimes before they happen."

Act II, written by Schumer and several congressional colleagues, would provide grants to schools to teach children that violence against women is wrong, combat sexual assault on college campuses, create safe places for children who are victims of abuse, and provide grants to help law enforcement prosecute domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault.

Ms. Peoples, a candidate for the 30th Congressional District seat held by Rep. Jack F. Quinn Jr., R-Hamburg, said the act also would help men.

"Many men are also abused through domestic violence," she noted.

Ms. Peoples predicted the educational component of the Violence Against Women Act II would double the number of local callers to the national hot line.

"The problem of domestic violence is so widespread; most of us don't realize how widespread," she said.

Hoyt noted that Schumer, who served in the State Legislature before being elected to Congress 18 years ago, is no Johnny-come-lately to domestic violence issues and "led the charge . . . when he was an assemblyman."

Act II "is not only about putting people in jail -- it's about providing resources to prevent violence," Hoyt said.

Geraldine A. Ferraro, former congresswoman and a one-time vice presidential candidate, and Mark J. Green, New York City public advocate, also are seeking the Democratic nomination to oppose D'Amato.