Target: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.)
Goal: Protect Native women on reservations against violence and sexual assault
According to the Centers for Disease Control, nationally one in every five women is raped in her lifetime, while one in three Native American women are raped. Additionally, approximately 46% of Native American women suffer physical violence, stalking, and/or rape.
Most tribes living on Native American reservations are not allowed to handle felony cases by themselves; that is left to state and federal authorities who often have little presence on reservations. No tribes have jurisdiction over non-Natives, so women who are abused and raped on reservations often have little capacity for recourse if their attackers are not Native American. Approximately 50% of Native women are married to non-Native men. This convoluted legal system results in lack of enforcement and emboldened perpetrators who understand that it’s unlikely they will be prosecuted for any abuse or violence they commit on a reservation.
Currently, there is debate over a provision in the Violence Against Women Act that would give tribal courts the authorization to prosecute U.S. non-Native citizens who are being charged with assault of Native American women on reservations. Those against this provision say that it encroaches upon the rights of the government, allowing an unconstitutional expansion of tribal courts’ jurisdiction. This is obscene; every day, the rights of Native women on reservations are neglected as they, like perpetrators, know that they are virtually legally powerless if attacked.
This Act, according to Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wisc), “will send a very strong message that you can’t just beat up a Native woman and there’s going to be no consequences.” Consequences for perpetrators who abuse 46% of Native American women have been a long time coming. Signing this petition and urging House Majority Leader Eric Cantor to support Native women’s rights will help create the legal infrastructure necessary to end this chain of abuse.
Dear House Majority Leader Eric Cantor,
In their lifetimes, 46% of Native women are abused physically, stalked, and/or raped. Instances of domestic abuse on reservations are higher than the national average. Native women do not have the resources or legal support necessary to take action against this kind of abuse, which most often results from legal loopholes that the Violence Against Women Act has the power to close.
Tribal courts need the power to prosecute non-Native U.S. citizens who rape and/or abuse Native women on reservations. So far, this lack of power has caused tremendous suffering. Tribal courts’ lack of jurisdiction over non-Native U.S. citizens who commit such crimes on reservations supports and emboldens perpetrators who know, just like the women they rape know, it’s unlikely that they will ever face prosecution.
This is why your support of the Violence Against Women Act, in its full text, is so crucial. Tribes need to have the authority to prosecute U.S. non-Native citizens who assault Native women on reservations. This provision does not unconstitutionally expand the power and jurisdiction of tribal courts; it protects and empowers women by creating a foundation for valuable legal infrastructure that dissuades perpetrators and allows for more direct prosecution when assault is committed.
Please, join the fight against violence. End the cycle of abuse against Native women.
[Your Name Here]