Native American Women Getting the Shaft in Stalled VAWA Negotiations
The failure of Congress to renew the Violence Against Women Act or VAWA has kind of dropped off the radar but is getting some attention again as it will expire at the end of the month otherwise.
As you may recall the Senate passed the bill routinely (which is something to remember as it’s one of the few they have lately) but the Rethuglicans in the House are hung up on the fact that the bill has additional provisions for women who are traditionally more at risk for being assaulted - undocumented immigrants, lesbian women and Native American women. Which is charming of them but, sad to say, not a surprise in today’s political climate.
Apparently Joe Biden, one of the authors of the original bill, has been working quietly with Eric Cantor, House Majority Leader, to try and resolve the issue. That some progress is actually being made in these negotiations is probably less to do with Repubs really caring that these women risk violence in their lives on a regular basis and more to do with starting to realize that they are being rejected by pretty much every constituency except middle aged white guys.
And maybe that’s part of the explanation for the final hang-up.
But two sources familiar with negotiations on VAWA, both of whom requested anonymity given the sensitive nature of talks, have told HuffPost that Cantor is refusing to accept any added protections for Native American women that would give expanded jurisdiction to tribes, and is pressuring Democrats to concede on that front. There does seem to be room to negotiate with Cantor on the other two provisions relating to LGBT and undocumented immigrant protections, the sources say.
Cantor’s spokespeeps deny this but Senator Patrick Leahy, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee has a different story.
Meanwhile, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the author of the Senate VAWA bill, went to the Senate floor on Thursday and plainly announced that House Republican leaders are blocking his bill “because of their objections to [the] ... tribal provision.”
Leahy explained the provision, probably the least understood of the three additions in the Senate bill: It gives tribal courts limited jurisdiction to oversee domestic violence offenses committed against Native American women by non-Native American men on tribal lands. Currently, federal and state law enforcement have jurisdiction over domestic violence on tribal lands, but in many cases, they are hours away and lack the resources to respond to those cases. Tribal courts, meanwhile, are on site and familiar with tribal laws, but lack the jurisdiction to address domestic violence on tribal lands when it is carried out by a non-Native American individual.
That means non-Native American men who abuse Native American women on tribal lands are essentially “immune from the law, and they know it,” Leahy said.
Yes, this provision would allow white guys to be put on trial by Native Americans and be subject to tribal justice for the crime of assaulting Native American women. And, apparently, we can’t have that! No indeed!! Never mind that Native American women are subjected to sexual assault by non-Native American men at apallingly high rates. HuffPo reports via the NY Times that approximately 1/3 of Native American women have been raped or otherwise assaulted and 86% of these attacks come from non-Native American (and I’m guessing, mainly white guys??) males.
So there you have it. The official position of the Republican party is that violence against Native American women does not count as a crime when the attacker is a white guy. And no white guy should have to be tried in a tribal court.
Of course Native American women can always take the advice of noted feminist Dana Perino who advises women who are victims of violence to just make better decisions bitchez!!
Don’t believe she’s really that clueless? Listen for yourselves:
Yes, if only all those women hadn’t chosen to be born Native American and live on tribal lands which the beneficent U.S. Government so graciously bestowed upon their tribes so it could grab the BETTER places where they originally lived, and if they hadn’t chosen to be raped by white guys who had no fear of actual consequences for their actions because, Republican House, why their lives would be happy and filled with sparkly unicorns!
I don’t know, each time I think Republicans have hit rock bottom as human beings they manage to chisel their way down a little deeper.