First Nations Supports Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act
Violence against Native American women occurs at a much higher rate than non-Native women. National crime statistics indicate that one in three American Indian women will be raped during their lifetime. Data from the U.S. Department of Justice shows that Native women suffer violent crime at a rate three and a half times greater than the national average.
Those startling and greatly disturbing statistics are why First Nations Development Institute is involved. With support from the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women, we are working hard to build the effectiveness and capacity of tribal groups that address this issue. It’s part of our mission to strengthen and encourage Native nonprofit organizations, which help sustain Native communities.
The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (S. 1925) may go before the U.S. Senate as early as this week. It includes several updates and improvements to the law, some of which directly affect tribes. For example, it will strengthen concurrent tribal criminal jurisdiction over perpetrators who assault Native spouses and dating partners in Indian Country.
Reauthorization will strengthen tribal sovereignty and tribes’ capacity to address domestic violence occurring on reservations, whether the perpetrators are Native or non-Native. Being able to address crimes occurring in Native communities is closely tied to developing a strong Native economy in those communities. Such crime inhibits tribal economic growth and productivity because it threatens the well-being of Native people and curbs their full participation in their economies.
To learn more about the reauthorization, or to urge your senators to support it, please visit the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women. There you will find information about the act along with links to all U.S. senators. Also, please tell your friends to do likewise.
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