From yesterday’s VAWA Day of Action in front of Salish Kootenai Tribal College on the Flathead Nation reservation. This tiny girl was taken out of school by her grandmother, and the both of them came to participate as a team.
This poster quote is from the 1491’s “To the Indigenous Woman” poem/video.
Dating and domestic violence occur in immigrant communities at similar rates as non-immigrant communities. However, immigrant communities are often at greater risk – due to language barriers, social isolation, lack of information, lack of financial resources, cultural beliefs, not knowing our rights and sometimes the fear of deportation. Abuse often goes unreported, and victims do not receive the services they need.
Because of these complex barriers and challenges, it often makes reporting dating abuse that much more difficult. However, it’s very important to make sure that you’re able to take steps to keep safe. Below are some tips to help:
Know Your Rights: Everyone –- citizen or immigrant, documented or undocumented –- enjoys basic human rights such as the right to be safe and protected by the law.
“Today, I watched President Obama sign the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act into law, which will help our nation’s domestic violence survivors access the resources they need. I’m proud of our President and our Congress for standing up for women” - Debbie Wasserman Schultz
As the last window of opportunity to pass a fully-inclusiveViolence Against Women Act (VAWA) Reauthorization comes close to shutting in the final days of the 112th Congress, many are wondering why Republican House leadership, particularly Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), are so opposed to the provisions protecting Native American women on tribal reservations. Other Republican leaders — including Reps. Darrell Issa (R-CA), John Kline (R-MN), Mike Simpson (R-ID), Tom Cole (R-OK), and Patrick McHenry (R-NC) — have proposed a reasonable compromise that protects Native women, but it puts them at odds with the Majority Leader.
With the Issa compromise on the table and backed by several House Committee chairs, what are Republicans like Cantor still so concerned about that they’re willing to hold up the landmark law that funds services, strengthens law enforcement for domestic violence, and increases accountability for offenders?
Here’s everything you need to know about the GOP’s opposition to new protections for Native women on tribal lands:
1) Non-Native men will continue to receive a jurisdictional free pass for abusing Native women:
In response to the epidemic rates of domestic violence against Native women on reservations, the Department of Justice issued a legislative proposal that would restore Tribes’ ability to prosecute misdemeanor crimes of domestic and dating violence committed by non-Natives against Native women. This proposal also requires that the non-Native offender either live or work on the reservation and be in an existing relationship with the victim. DOJ statisticsshow that 3 out of 5 Native women had been assaulted by their intimate partners and 56 percent of American Indian women have non-Indian husbands.
Today on Indian reservations, the local governments don’t have the ability to respond to domestic violence crimes in their community if the perpetrator isn’t Native. Without this ability, non-Native offenders often go unpunished on tribal land because the only ones who can bring them to justice are federal prosecutors who are often hundreds of miles away and lack local resources to properly investigate and prosecute these crimes. The result, according to a recent National Institute of Justice (NIJ)-funded report, the offenders become emboldened, and the violence escalates to rape and in some cases homicide. On some Indian reservations, the homicide rate of Native women is 10 times the national average.
2) Republicans are more concerned with Non- Native perpetrators than Native victims:
So why do some Republicans like Cantor still have issues with a well-reasoned, narrowly-scoped DOJ proposal to reduce violence against Native women on reservations? An unbalanced concern for the rights non-Native men accused of these crimes. Even though the current Senate version of VAWA includes a full set of constitutional protections for suspects of abuse, including due-process rights and a right to counsel, Cantor and other Republicans continue to stall the VAWA Reauthorization because of baseless constitutional concerns for those accused of abusing Native women.
In the spirit of compromise within their own caucus, Issa and his colleagues proposed a powerful extra protection for defendants in their bill last week: a new right to remove the case to a federal court if the defendant’s rights are violated by a local tribal court. Although advocates for Native women would prefer to see the Senate version passed, this compromise is a reasonable way to get a deal done and improve the system of justice on reservations. It will clarify that all persons who commit a crime of domestic or dating violence on an Indian reservation will be arrested and held accountable, regardless of their race.
3) Local tribal law enforcement is more responsive to Native women:
The Senate version of VAWA would end jurisdictional black holes that give non-Native men a free pass to abuse Native women and evade justice. It would provide local tribal law enforcement with the much-needed ability to investigate and prosecute crimes against Native women in their own communities, just as other state and local authorities do for other victims in the country. Prosecuting these crimes requires sensitive and time-consuming work with family and community members. Tribal prosecutors are down the street on the reservation and work closely with the tribal police who respond to these crimes. Restoring local control will provide the victim, the family, and the community the ability to seek responsive justice locally. There’s no reason that their ability to fully prosecute these crimes should rest on the skin color of the accused abuser.
Sign this! It is so so so very important. The representation of women and violence against women is such an important topic that ABC’s Scandal BOTCHED. I’m offended. If you’re on twitter, use the hashtag #GladiatorsAgainstViolence to get some more attention!!
So you know what's been lost: some back-reading on the now extinct Violence Against Women Act
Some pre-VAWA discussion of the legislation and the contentious argument leading up to its 1994 passage:
“When half of our population is being deprived of its most basic civil rights and is being relegated to second-class citizenship because it is female, some action must be taken. The VAWA is a vital first step in eliminating the problem. As one witness testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee: "Until women as a class have the same protection offered others who are the object of irrational, hate-motivated abuse and assault, we as a society should feel humiliated and ashamed.” [Fun Fact, that witness was pre-Blagojevich Roland Burris]
Between 1993 and 2010 (the law was enacted in 1994), intimate partner violence in the United States dropped by 64 percent, largely attributable to the impacts of VAWA.
For the policy wonks.
“As this paper illustrates, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has improved federal, state, and local responses to sexual assault by spurring changes in public attitudes, policy, and law. However, much remains to be done in order to more fully address the emergency and on-going needs of victims of sexual violence and their families. Additionally, while the VAWA initiated progress in strengthening the criminal justice system’s response to sexual violence, it’s clear that major service, funding, and policy gaps remain. If the VAWA aims to encourage victims to engage in the criminal justice system, there is a related responsibility to provide for the crisis, emergent, and on-going emotional healing, legal and economic needs of those same victims.”