Opinion

Sen. Harry Reid: Indian women heard with enactment of VAWA





Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nevada), the Senate majority leader, on the importance of tribal jurisdiction provisions in S.47, a bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act:
March 7 was a momentous day -- President Obama was finally able to sign the reauthorized Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

Since it was first enacted in 1996, VAWA has been proven to work. It helps law enforcement improve strategies to prosecute violent crimes against women and it provides legal assistance to victims of violence. It also funds shelters that allow women to escape their abusers and it safeguards youth who experience dating violence or stalking.

For too long, however, the law did not extend protections to all women in America and certain protections were not afforded to members of Indian tribes. Loopholes in federal law previously allowed non-Indians who live or work on Indian reservations and who commit acts of domestic violence to go unpunished. Tribal courts lacked the power to convict non-Indians of these crimes. This disparity left victims in tribal communities at a gross disadvantage because they could not seek justice through their own courts.

Get the Story:
Harry Reid: Women in Indian Country Have Been Heard (Indian Country Today 3/13)