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Senate Panel Clears Bill to Protect Indian Women from Violence

On December 8, the Senate Indian Affairs Committee approved, by voice vote, the Stand Against Violence and Empower (SAVE) Native Women Act (S. 1763). The committee held a hearing on the legislation on November 10 (see The Source, 11/11/11).

The measure, sponsored by Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI), would grant tribes and tribal organizations jurisdiction to prosecute domestic violence crimes and violations of protective orders. The bill would amend the Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 (P.L. 90-351) to include sex trafficking among the crimes for which the federal government may provide grants to Indian tribal governments and organizations to reduce or eliminate violence against Indian women.

The list of eligible uses of grant funds would be amended to include the provision of services to youth who are victims of, or have been exposed to, domestic and dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The bill also would include “the development of legislation and policies that enhance best practices for responding to violent crimes against Indian women” as one of the eligible uses.

Tribal coalition grants also would be established in order to increase awareness of violence against Indian women; improve responses to such violence at the state, federal, and local levels; identify and provide technical assistance to improve access to services for women who have been victimized; and develop and promote best practices for responding to such violence.

During consideration of the bill, the committee approved, by unanimous consent, a substitute amendment by Sen. Akaka to add a provision to classify violations of tribal protection orders as federal crimes.

The committee also approved an amendment by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) to authorize tribal courts to prosecute non-Indian offenders of domestic violence under the jurisdiction of the tribe, instead of the authority of the tribe, also by unanimous consent.

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