Violence Against Women Act: An Update
Last February, United Methodist Women released an action alert on the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Amazingly, since that time, no progress has been made. In fact, the 112th Congress let it expire, as the act failed to pass in the House.
The expansion of VAWA to include LGBT, undocumented, and Native American women is facing challenges in the House of Representatives.
There is currently no debate about including special provisions for LGBT and undocumented women within the bill, but there is regarding Native American women.
The House differs on how much authority the tribal legal system on Native American reservations should have in prosecuting non-Native perpetrators of violence against women.
Some members against revisions of the bill approved by the Senate perceive the tribal councils as threats to U.S. federal authority by enabling them to prosecute all perpetrators of violence, not just other Native Americans. They would like all violent crimes against women, including those against Native women, to go through the appropriate state or federal court system. But given the quasi-independence of tribal authorities, this would allow non-Natives to be omitted from prosecution by tribes themselves.
Without the expansion, any non-Native abuser can take a Native woman one foot outside of a reservation, beat her, and the tribal authority has no jurisdiction, even though it’s in their backyard.
United Methodist Women supports expanding VAWA to recognize and enable the tribal authorities to prosecute non-Natives or anyone who attacks a Native woman.
Please call your representative in the House and urge support for full protection for all women, and ensure all perpetrators are held accountable for actions. Read more on United Methodist-supported work in combatting gender violence through Global Ministries' US-2 missionary program.