WASHINGTON, D.C. ― In a press teleconference Thursday with the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native American Women, U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) called for the reauthorization and expansion of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
Nationwide, the number of domestic violence incidents has been cut in half since the enactment of VAWA, and in New Mexico that number has dropped by 35 percent since 2005. One in three women still face domestic violence in New Mexico.
“The enactment of the Violence Against Women Act in 1994 was an historic acknowledgment of the significance of domestic and sexual violence. I was proud to play a role in VAWA’s last reauthorization in 2013, which expanded on the law’s successes. I fought for key provisions to more effectively combat violence against all victims by increasing protections for Native American women, gay and lesbian victims, and battered immigrant women,” Heinrich said. “I believe we need to not only reauthorize VAWA before it expires this month, but also build on its success. We need to authorize more resources for preventing domestic and sexual violence.
“We need to improve the enforcement of protective orders to protect brave individuals who have come to the courts for help. Our success in addressing the epidemic of domestic violence and sexual abuse depends on a strong reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. We need make this a priority right now. We cannot let this opportunity slip away.”
“It is imperative that Congress reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. Given the rates of violence against women, the reauthorization of VAWA and the proposed expansions will increase safety for our families and communities,” said Executive Director Deleana OtherBull of the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women. “For those of us working in the field, we know that VAWA has been such an important piece of legislation in aiding Native women and children. But without adequate funding to add more victim services and law enforcement response, we risk allowing the pervasive cycles of violence to continue.”
Heinrich cosponsored the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which was signed into law in 2013. Since its inception, VAWA has significantly reduced domestic violence by funding programs that protect women and children from abuse. The bipartisan 2013 reauthorization extended protections to Indian Country, LGBT and immigrant communities.
Heinrich also has been a champion of efforts to address the crisis of missing and murdered Native American women. Heinrich is a cosponsor of Savanna’s Act that would help improve information sharing with tribes, data collection, and response protocols for all levels of law enforcement. The bipartisan legislation passed in the Senate last week.