Despite Early Objections, Congress Passes Inclusive Violence Against Women Act

Press Release
February 28, 2013

Despite Early Objections, Congress Passes Inclusive Violence Against Women Act

House Vote Supports Protections For Native American and Alaska Native Women, Immigrant Women and Members of the LGBT Community

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, strimel@aiusa.org, 212-633-4150, @AIUSAmedia

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Amnesty International issued the following comments from Michelle Ringuette, chief of campaigns and programs, following the House vote on the Violence Against Women Act:

"Women – regardless of where they live, who they are, or where they come from – have the right to live free from intimidation and violence. Congress finally woke up and heard that message today, overcoming the objections of lawmakers who fought against protections for Native American and Alaska Native women, immigrant women, and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and passed an inclusive and bipartisan Violence Against Women Act."

In addition, Amnesty International issued comments from Sarah Deer, a Native women's advocate and member of Amnesty International USA's Maze Advisory Council:

"As a Native woman, I'm relieved that the U.S. Congress has finally come to its senses and reauthorized a Violence Against Women Act that will help Native women access justice for violence," said Deer. "The current justice system is broken when it comes to Native American and Alaska Native survivors of sexual and domestic violence. These new provisions passed today will finally help put an end to perpetrators going free for horrendous crimes and give Native women hope that justice will be served and that the violence they suffered will be prosecuted."

One in 3 Native American and Alaska Native women will be raped in her lifetime. And when the perpetrator is a non-Native man – as in 86% of cases – tribal authorities have no power to prosecute the perpetrator. This is just one example of the maze of injustice that Native women face and that an inclusive VAWA would help fix.

Immigrant women often face higher rates of sexual harassment and domestic abuse – but when it comes to reporting these crimes and seeking justice, they have few legal rights and little protection from abusers who would exploit their immigration status or isolation.

LGBT violence survivors face discrimination when attempting to access potentially life-saving social services – discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.