Washington D.C. –
U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, applauded today’s passage of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Reauthorization of 2011. The legislation includes provisions from the Stand Against Violence and Empower Native Women (SAVE) Act which Chairman Akaka introduced in October and quickly advanced through his committee.
According to a study by the Department of Justice, two-in-five women in Native communities will suffer domestic violence, and one-in-three will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. Four out of five perpetrators of these crimes are non-Indian, and cannot be prosecuted by tribal governments.
“VAWA was a landmark piece of legislation because it changed the way that our Nation dealt violence against women. No longer are acts of domestic violence viewed as just family issues – now police and private citizens work to eradicate these crimes,” said Akaka. “But tragically, this is not always the case on reservations, in part due to jurisdictional issues which must be fixed. The Native provisions included in the reauthorization would close the loopholes in the public safety patchwork on Tribal lands so that all rapists and abusers will be brought to justice, and ensure that women’s safety programs have the flexibility and tools they need to help all victims get the help they need.”
Chairman Akaka’s SAVE Native Women provisions which passed the Senate today would restore Indian Country with jurisdiction over non-Indians who commit crimes on Indian lands, provide Native Hawaiian victims with access to the sexual assault coalition grants, and provide additional tools to tribal and Federal prosecutors to address domestic violence.
“I commend Senator Leahy and Senator Crapo for their leadership in developing the VAWA Reauthorization and for including the SAVE Native Women provisions,” Akaka said. “I urge the House to pass this legislation as soon as possible, to save Native women and all American women from continued violence.”
Senator Akaka delivered a floor speech earlier today urging his colleagues to approve the VAWA Reauthorization. Click here for video and text of his speech.
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