WASHINGTON — On Dec 7th 2019, Congresswoman Deb Haaland’s (NM-01) Justice for Native Women Survivors of Sexual Violence Act (H.R. 3977) cleared the committee mark up and is one step closer to bolster efforts to address the missing and murdered indigenous women’s crisis. American Indians and Alaskan Natives experience physical and sexual violence at disproportionate rates compared to any other group of people in the United States. The Justice for Native Women Survivors of Sexual Violence Act will restore criminal jurisdiction to tribal courts so they can prosecute cases of sexual assault, sex trafficking, and stalking crimes in Indian Country.
“No woman should ever be denied basic human rights protections, especially when the justification for denying a woman access to legal recourse after being sexually assaulted rests on where she lives and her race. Public safety in Indian Country should be a top priority, because Native women are experiencing violence at alarming rates — this is a national crisis. By passing this bill out of committee it shows that we’re moving toward finally seeking justice for Native American women.” said Congresswoman Deb Haaland, Vice Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee.
Currently, crimes of sexual assault, sex trafficking, and stalking committed against American Indian and Alaskan Native women by non-tribal members within Indian Country cannot be prosecuted by tribal courts. The Justice for Native Survivors of Sexual Violence Act will reduce the devastating disparities in how justice is applied to protect victims and deter future violent crimes against Native women. Reports have shown that more than 4 in 5 American Indian and Alaskan Native women have experienced some form of violence in their lives. Despite these alarming rates, tribal governments continue to be denied jurisdiction to prosecute these crimes of sexual abuse against female tribal members.