Advocate says Native American women more likely to be victims of violence

Native American women are more likely to be victims of sexual violence and gender-based crime than many other groups, advocate Archi Pyati told Hill.TV on Wednesday.

“One in three women already will experience or has experienced intimate partner violence in America,” Pyati, head of policy at the Tahirih Justice Center, said on "Rising."

“Every minute, 20 more people are being victimized. But even with those shocking numbers, what we’ve come to learn over the decades is that Native American women are twice as vulnerable to violence as the rest of us," she said. “Knowing that then, shouldn’t perpetrators — who are non-native perpetrators — be held accountable under tribal jurisdiction when the violence happens on tribal lands? Seems like a no brainer.”

Pyati discussed the push for reauthorization of the bipartisan Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which lapsed during the partial government shutdown that ended in January.

She said renewing the measure is especially critical for Native American women, who experience some of the highest rates of murder, sexual violence and domestic abuse in the country.

Pyati added that she hopes VAWA will help expand protections for Native American women who are survivors of violence. Tribal police typically act as law enforcement on reservations, which are considered sovereign land. The FBI gets involved for crimes like murder and rape.

And even though holding abusers accountable on tribal lands was achieved during the previous reauthorization of VAWA, Pyati said, it was "somewhat limited" and needs to be expanded.

VAWA, first enacted in 1994, provides protections for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault and is up for reauthorization by Congress every five years.

The statute not only transformed the nation's approach to violence against women, it also established an office of violence against women at the Department of Justice and funding for support programs like emergency hotlines for survivors.

Over the years, Pyati said, provisions addressing dating violence and stalking have been added to the law.

Reps. Karen BassKaren Ruth BassLos Angeles road to be renamed Obama Boulevard in May The Hill's Morning Report - Waiting on Mueller: Answers come on Thursday Dems rally behind Omar as Trump escalates attacks MORE (D-Calif.) and Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickFreshman House Dems surge past GOP in money race Cybersecurity Advisory Committee will strengthen national security through a stronger public-private partnership Congress is ready to tackle climate change MORE (R-Pa.) last week introduced a measure that would fund and expand programs for survivors of domestic violence.

Pyati told Hill.TV that this is a “prime moment” for lawmakers to recommit to ending violence against women.

“On both sides of the aisle, there is an interest in reauthorizing VAWA," she said. "I think what remains to be seen: Will everyone put their money where their mouth is, lean into this reauthorization process.”

—Tess Bonn