President Obama earlier this afternoon: Indian Country has some of the highest rates of domestic abuse in America. And one of the reasons is that when Native American women are abused on tribal lands by an attacker who is not Native American, the attacker is immune from prosecution by tribal courts. Well, as soon as I sign this bill that ends.
violence against women act
If you haven’t realized the urgent need for an expanded Violence Against Women Act, read today’s New York Times, where novelist Louise Erdrich restates the theme that runs through her powerful novel The Round House (reviewed in a previous post): Native American women are being battered and raped by non-native men, and they have no legal support for pursuing justice—because non-natives are immune from prosecution by tribal courts.
The question isn't whether the new provisions in the Senate VAWA bill are politically motivated. It's whether the provisions are good ones.
So, who's playing politics with reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act? Sen. Schumer and the Democrats, or Sen. Grassley and the Republicans? Well, probably both. Yes, Democracts would love to bolster the narrative that Republicans don't care about women, even though Grassley et al. object to new provisions added to the VAWA, not the existing law. And yes, by threatening the whole bill based on objections to small parts of it, some Senate Republicans (not all of them) reveal that while they may in general favor services for domestic violence victims, it's not exactly a top priority to them. Of course both Senators Chuck are playing politics. That's their game, especially in leap years.