Reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act in 2019 Support VAWA by Organizing Locally, Regionally and Nationally

Now is the time for all those concerned about the safety of Native women and all other victims of domestic, sexual, and other crimes to organize at the tribal, local, regional, and national levels. Congress failed to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in 2018. Instead, Congress voted to pass a series of continuing resolutions. 

“We, as a social justice movement, are challenged to organize, educate, and inform Congress of the lifesaving programs supported by VAWA,” said Lucy Simpson, Executive Director, NIWRC. “VAWA is essential to the everyday safety of Native women and their children. We call on Congress to work together to pass a bipartisan bill that strengthens the nation’s response to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking— one that is inclusive of American Indian tribes and Alaska Native villages.” 

Support the Reauthorization of VAWA 

Congress failed to reauthorize VAWA in 2018 and strong support at the tribal, regional, and national levels is needed. VAWA can only be reauthorized through strong bipartisan support. “Those seeking safety from violence need changes included under the VAWA 2019,” said Caroline LaPorte, NIWRC Senior Native Affairs Advisor. “We need the new proposals like protections for survivors on tribal land, housing protections, protection from abusers with guns, and increased prevention funding. These changes we hope will save lives.” 

Reauthorization Needs Local Action 

Steps you can take to help reauthorize VAWA: 

First, call your senators and representatives. VAWA has always been bipartisan. Let your members know: We need the Violence Against Women Act reauthorized now! Survivors can’t wait for lifesaving responses to domestic violence, dating violence, and sexual assault. 

Second, work to inform your tribe about the importance of reauthorizing VAWA and organize to pass a tribal resolution supporting reauthorization of VAWA. Your members of Congress are more likely to support VAWA reauthorization if they understand the importance of VAWA to people living in their district, Indian tribes, and your community. Meet with local tribal council members to share the significance of VAWA to your tribe. Let them know why supporting reauthorization of VAWA can save lives and end the violence in the community. 

Third, organize to host community actions in support of the reauthorization of VAWA. Community events supporting VAWA are essential. Local shelter programs, women’s resource centers, or elders’ groups can make the difference to your member of Congress. Organize local actions to support the reauthorization of VAWA. A community walk, vigil, or rally are examples of awareness activities that can make a difference. Also, writing letters or meeting with your members of Congress in your local district office will help inform them why reauthorization of VAWA is vital to the local community. 

Important Reforms Needed for Indian Tribes Under VAWA 2019 Reauthorization Act 

Indian tribes need many lifesaving reforms for communities across the United States. VAWA 2019 can provide many of these changes. It can change laws, increase resources, and increase awareness. For Native women, tribal communities, and Indian tribes, these changes are essential and immediately necessary. Essential changes recommended by the NCAI Task Force on Violence Against Women and also made by tribal leaders at government-to-government consultations include: 

  • Build on successes of the VAWA 2013 by reaffirming inherent tribal authority to prosecute certain non- Indian domestic violence offenders by offering the same protections for victims of sexual violence, stalking, trafficking, child abuse, and assaults against law enforcement or justice personnel. 
  • Authorize appropriations for DOJ’s Tribal Access Program (TAP), which facilitates direct tribal access to the federal criminal information database system. 
  • Improve the response to cases of missing and murdered Native women and girls. 
  • Address the needs of Alaska Native villages, Maine tribes, and other Indian tribes. 

For questions and more information, please contact Virginia Davis or Caroline LaPorte