Your Action Is Still Needed for Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization
The U.S. House and Senate have passed separate versions of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act. Both authorize $660 million in spending for grants to women’s shelters and for training, but they are very different when it comes to Native American women.
On April 26, the Senate passed its version with a bipartisan vote. Recommendations by the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and the Senate Judiciary Committee are included in this bill. Favorable to Native American women living on reservations, it includes:
- Persons suspected of domestic violence can be arrested by tribal police even if they are not Native American.
- Tribal courts can exercise full jurisdiction over these cases even if the offender is not Native American.
- It allows federal prosecutors to seek sentences similar to nearby state laws.
The Senate bill provides more security and justice for Native American women. Additionally, it would enhance the safety of immigrant women and prohibit discrimination against victims based on sexual orientation.
The House passed its version of the bill on May 16 that excluded these provisions despite opposition by 320 advocacy groups, including women’s and service organizations, faith-based groups, violence against women workers, and civil rights groups. The bill passed with a 51% majority.
The next step is for the House and Senate to meet in conference committee to agree to a single version of the bill that can be approved.
Incidences of violence against Native American women are of epidemic proportions. During their lifetime, one in three will experience rape and three out of five will suffer from domestic violence.
We urge you to write to your senators and representatives and urge them to approve a bill that specifically addresses justice and equality for Native American women on reservations.
To find contact information for your senators and representative, go to this link http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml.