National Congress of American Indians Secretary Juana Majel-Dixon addresses a vigil for missing and murdered indigenous women at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., on September 11, 2018. Photo by Indianz.Com (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

'We need action': Native women seek solutions on Capitol Hill

With the Violence Against Women Act set to expire at the end of month as Native women keep going missing and murdered, advocates are looking to Congress for support.

But as independent journalist Mary Annette Pember reports in Rewire.News, they aren't finding much on Capitol Hill at the moment. A Republican version of VAWA rolls back tribal gains, according to the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, while legislation to address missing and murdered indigenous women and girls has stalled:
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) introduced the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2018 in July, which has several measures that expand tribal jurisdiction over crimes committed by non-Natives on reservations, including sexual assault, stalking, and trafficking. The act also expands tribal access to NCIC, a key element of tracking missing and murdered Native women.

The bill, however, has no bipartisan support.

Native women’s advocates were surprised by the Republican introduction of the Violence Against Women Extension Act on September 13 by Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY). This act would extend current provisions of the expiring VAWA Act for six months, but would include a fiscal rollback especially for tribal programs and others, according to [Caroline] LaPorte.

“This bill is a total slap in the face for Native women,” LaPorte said.

Funding for creating and gathering better data on missing and murdered women and improving investigations by law enforcement are available for allocation by federal and state governments, according to Annita Lucchesi, a cartographer working on collecting and mapping data related to this issue.

“We already have the funding to do this; if our country reduced spending on militarizing law enforcement, we could fund accurate data collection and policing,” she said.

“The feds should create a liaison office dedicated to coordinating data. We don’t need to wait five to ten more years for the results of another study,” she added. “We are not willing to sacrifice more women.”

Read More on the Story
Mary Annette Pember: Advocates Urge Better Reporting on Violence Against Native Women as Federal Fixes Stall (Rewire.News September 19, 2018)

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