July 30, 2008

Tribal Law and Order Act Aims to Address Abuse of Native American Women

In a previous post, we have pointed to the high rates of rape and abuse of Native American women, and the problems of jurisdiction and law enforcement resources that contribute to the lack of justice for women assaulted on reservations.

Last week, bills were introduced in the House and Senate that are intended to empower tribal governments to address crimes that take place on their lands, and, among other aims, to “reduce the prevalence of violent crime in tribal communities and to combat violence against Indian and Alaska Native women.”

The findings section of the bill text explains that :

“…domestic and sexual violence against Indian and Alaska Native women has reached epidemic proportions;
34 percent of Indian and Alaska Native women will be raped in their lifetimes; and
39 percent of Indian and Alaska Native women will be subject to domestic violence;
the lack of police presence and resources in Indian country has resulted in significant delays in responding to victims’ calls for assistance, which adversely affects the collection of evidence needed to prosecute crimes, particularly crimes of domestic and sexual violence;”

Senator Byron Dorgan and Representative Stephanie Herseth Sandlin sponsored the bills. Titled the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2008, S.3320 and H.R.6583 were introduced on July 23rd and have been referred on to committees. For background information, see Amnesty International’s 2007 report, Maze of injustice and this recent piece from All Things Considered.


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