• Press Release

Reauthorization of Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Crucial to Protecting Native Women and Ensuring Justice for Survivors

March 16, 2022

Amnesty International welcomes the final passage of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), particularly historic provisions that restore tribal criminal jurisdiction over non-Native perpetrators of sexual violence against Native women.

More than half of Native American and Alaska Native women have experienced sexual violence, over twice the national average. Of Native women who have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime, 96 percent have experienced sexual violence by at least one non-Native perpetrator.

The restored jurisdiction in VAWA 2022 means that tribes can arrest, prosecute and sentence offenders for sexual violence and other serious crimes outlined in VAWA 2022 that have long gone unpunished due to limitations on tribes imposed by the U.S. federal government. This is a critical step in the right direction to better preventing sexual violence against Native women.

“Justice for Native survivors must not be further delayed,” said Tarah Demant, Interim National Director of Programs, Advocacy and Government Affairs. “It’s a travesty that perpetrators of sexual violence against Native women have operated with almost total impunity. And, it speaks to the failure of the United States to respect, protect and fulfill the human rights of Indigenous women. Restored jurisdiction to tribes for crimes of sexual violence is a vital step toward ensuring justice for survivors and in addressing this epidemic of violence.”

Contact: Gabby Arias, [email protected]