Violence Against Women Act Waits For Reinstatement

The Violence Against Women Act has been kept from being reinstated due to bipartisan bickering from republican members of Congress, which has kept some threatened women from being able to prosecute the perpetrators who committed acts of violence and sexual abuse against them.

According to statistics from The Department of Justice, Native American women are being violently and sexually abused at astonishing rates. Besides being ten times more likely to be murdered than other women, a third of Native American women report being victims of rape or attempted rape.

In 1978, the Supreme Court ruled non-native people cannot be prosecuted by native tribal people, Uprising Radioreported.

An Al Jazeerareport claims that the rates of assault in Indian communities rival the sexual violence of war zones.

Recently a White House blog post, co-authored by White House Advisor on Violence Against Women Lynn Rosenthal and White House Senior Policy Advisor for Native American Affairs Jodi Gillette was released:

“Tribal police, prosecutors, and courts have had significant success in combating crimes of domestic violence committed by Indians in Indian country, but tribes cannot prosecute a non-Indian, even if he lives on the reservation and is married to a tribal member. As a result, all too often, non-Indian men who batter their wives or girlfriends go unpunished. One provision of the Leahy-Crapo bill addresses this legal gap by providing tribes with concurrent authority to hold domestic violence perpetrators accountable for their crimes against Native women—regardless of the perpetrator’s race.”

The Violence Against Women Act expired in September, 2012, exactly eighteen years after President Bill Clinton originally passed the law in 1994. The Senate has approved a version of the act which included new provisions to protect Native Americans, undocumented immigrants, college women and LGBT members.

The House of Representatives, with a republican majority, have drafted a version which excludes the additional provisions the Senate included and also seeks to limit the number of U Visas which are granted to women who were abused, giving them temporary legal status and work eligibility.

President Obama said the re-authorization of a strengthened Violence Against Women Act “languishes” in Congress.