I grew up in Alaska and as a young reporter, one of the toughest stories to cover was the crisis of domestic violence and violence against women in the native community.
Which is why it caught my eye that one of the sticking points holding up the re-authorization of the Federal Violence Against Women Act is a new provision that would extend protections to undocumented workers, members of the LGBT community and native women.
This advocacy video — with some pretty bleak statistics — is what grabbed my attention.
Just last month, the Akwesasne Mohawk tribe received roughly $596,000 in Federal funding to combat domestic violence here in the North Country.
But VAWA remains on the shelf. A bi-partisan bill that extends protections to Native American women passed the US Senate on a bipartisan vote. But it’s been blocked in the House by Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a Republican.
According to Huffingtonpost, there appear to be some concerns within the GOP about giving added “jurisdiction to tribes,” though Cantor’s office denied that that was the sticking point.
The measure has drawn support from the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay-rights group within the GOP.
“Nobody should be able to get away with domestic abuse just because their victim is gay, transgender, an immigrant or Native American, and nobody should be denied help in recovering from abuse,” said R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director, in a statement.
VAWA has been around since 1994 and, when in place, gives additional funding for law enforcement aimed at protecting women, while requiring those convicted of domestic violence to pay restitution, and allowing more civil lawsuits against abusers.