As I sit here sick, missing the tribal event mentioned, and my own (rural) program was cut 17%, this is what makes me inspired:
******* November closed with great excitement:* on the 30th, 17 years after its original passage, the Violence Against Women Act was introduced for reauthorization with the bipartisan leadership and support of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID).* The act, whose current authorization expired in September, was first championed by Vice President Joe Biden and passed by Congress in 1994.* VAWA has been reauthorized twice since, in both 2000 under President Clinton, and 2005 under President Bush.* This bill has always enjoyed bipartisan support, as it should:* abuse knows no bounds – victims can be young and old, of all racial and ethnic backgrounds, all genders, from every corner of the country, urban and rural, tribal and territorial, and certainly every party.* One’s right to live with safety and security ought not to depend on who you are or where you live.
******* The Violence Against Women Act has been the cornerstone of the federal government’s efforts to bring an end to sexual violence, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.* The Act supports formula and discretionary programs serving all segments of society, and encourages close collaboration among community service providers and professionals to coordinate efforts to end violence.* Since its passage, well over $4 billion have been awarded for victim services and hundreds of programs around the country such as transitional housing, supervised visitation, and legal assistance.* VAWA is best identified for the way in which it has helped strengthen coordinated approaches by bringing together survivors, victim advocates, law enforcement, court personnel, health care professionals and faith leaders, among many others.* The impact of VAWA cannot be overstated:* it has profoundly improved lives, has saved lives, and has led to a paradigm shift whereby domestic and sexual violence are no longer private matters never to be shared.* To the contrary, we have seen a cultural shift take hold – we repudiate violence and work in myriad ways to stem the tide.
******* While violence has been reduced substantially as a result of VAWA, much remains to be done if we are ever to achieve safety and security for all.* The proposed legislation includes a number of important updates and improvements to the law, including a greater emphasis on meeting the needs of survivors of sexual violence by adding purpose areas and dedicated funding from the STOP state formula grant and the Grants to Encourage Arrest program.* A greater focus is also included to address domestic homicides.* The legislation recognizes that training of law enforcement, victim service providers and court personnel can help identify, and bring to safety, those victims at particularly high risk of harm.** A greater emphasis is also placed on reaching traditionally underserved communities through the STOP planning process and through new purpose areas in some of the funding streams.* And through consolidation of some of the youth programs, it is hoped that more emphasis can be placed on prevention and its relationship to intervention work as well.
******* Major improvements are also included to improve the response to the incredibly high rates of violence committed against women in tribal communities.* Among other things, the legislation proposes to strengthen tribal responses by recognizing certain tribes’ concurrent jurisdiction to investigate, prosecute, convict and sentence both Indians and non-Indians, and intends to clarify that tribal courts have full civil jurisdiction to issue and enforce certain protection orders.
******* And this brings me to this week – in a few days, the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services will be holding our 6th annual Tribal Consultation at Santa Ana Pueblo in New Mexico.* This annual event is an opportunity for government-to-government discussion about issues facing American Indian and Alaska Native women, around ending violence in all its forms.* We anticipate tribal leaders from all over the country and look forward to the rich discussion that will help us better serve women who are abused and raped, and murdered, at rates which are nothing short of abominable.
******* In conjunction with the Tribal Consultation, the Task Force created under Title IX of VAWA will meet to hear updates from the National Institute of Justice of the Department of Justice about their program of research regarding violence against the AI/AN community.* These collective efforts, we hope, will continue to mature.* The exchange of ideas and information is much anticipated.
******* Between Thanksgiving, the December holidays and the New Year, we take pause to be grateful for what we have, to remind ourselves of what others don’t have, and challenge ourselves to do more, to do better, to reach out to that one person whose life will be better for that act of kindness.*
******* Wishing you peace and joy, safety and security, thank you for all that you do every day.
Susan B. Carbon