GOP waters down Violence against Women Act

When the Violence Against Women Act came up for renewal last year, the U.S. Senate voted to extend those protections to same-sex partners, undocumented immigrants and Native American women, according to an article in Politico by Seung Min Kim.

Those changes faced resistance in the House, according to Kim, so they approved a competing version and the two chambers refused to take up each other’s legislation.

Under the Senate bill, tribal courts would be able to prosecute non-Native American men accused of abusing Native American women on tribal lands, because for this tribal courts now lack the authority.

Politico quotes Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) saying the provision has serious constitutional issues regarding the sovereignty of tribal courts, and the constitutional rights of the non-Native Americans who could be tried there, because:

“It raises such significant constitutional problems that its passage might actually not accomplish anything at all for Native American women, while failing to protect the constitutional rights of other American citizens.”

When Code Pink organizer Nancy L. Mancias of San Rafael heard the quote attributed to Grassley, she said:

“I think that’s absolutely ridiculous because we do have laws that cover tribal lands. I think that’s absolutely silly. … If you look at the GOP, they continue to the wage war on women, whether it be reproductive rights and sad to say, whether it be to speak out against violence, against women. It’s a really sad situation.”

When the current legislation went to the House, Kim reported, the Senate dropped a part of the legislation to appease the House that would have covered undocumented women who’d been abused or were victims of violence by granting them visas.

This was seen as a law-enforcement tool, so that such women would be more likely to come forward to report violence against them and not be afraid of deportation.

When this is mentioned, Mancias responds:

“Code Pink is really wanting to build people-to-people ties. And building people-to-people ties is we cross borders. … This is a human right and we need to stand with our immigrant sisters, and whether they are American or not we’ll need to be in solidarity and that’s what’s so great about today is that we are in solidarity with those (women). We don’t have any borders today.”