Don't protect some and ignore others

Congratulations, Senate Republicans—whether it was from election year fear, or a solid commitment to women’s rights (I’ll believe it when I see it), enough of you sucked it up and helped the Violence Against Women Act pass through your chamber.

The VAWA, has provided resources since 1994 to develop improved domestic violence and sexual assault response and prevention programs. This year’s Democratically-sponsored incarnation of the bill added three important provisions.

1) It would repurpose unused visas and make them available to victims of domestic violence who are undocumented immigrants.
2) It would “ban discrimination again gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender victims of domestic violence.”
3) It would give Native American tribal courts more authority to prosecute and address interjurisdictional domestic violence.

Although these additions passed in the Senate, the House GOP has created their own VAWA bill, with none of them included.  Republicans in the House and Senate have accused Dems of including these provisions to turn the bill into a “political football”, a “cheap shot”, and a “political play”. If you know the facts, this is not the case.

It should be noted at this point that Native American women suffer the highest rate of violence of any group in the United States.  1 in 3 Native women will be raped during their lives and 2/5 of women in Native communities will suffer domestic violence. 4 out of five perpetrators of these crimes are non-Indian, and therefore cannot be prosecuted by tribal courts. 

These new VAWA provision would help begin the process of fixing these dire problems.

Unless your definition of “women” excludes Native Americans, putting forward a bill that doesn’t take into account these issues is a negligent or ignorant act.

Rep. Sandy Adams (R-Fla), the chief sponsor of the GOP House bill said “We’re not going to be looking at the controversial issues that would actually detract from VAWA”.

If you consider helping overlooked women feel safe “controversial”, you may be not be looking out for women at all.

This House bill will likely be voted on by mid-May. We need people in office to vote against these expressions of ignorance. A woman that lives in fear of violence will never be free. A legislative body that doesn’t work towards remedying these issues is failing the country.