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February 26, 2013

BEAM: Spread the bipartisanship, stop the violence

(Continued)

NEW ALBANY —

Likewise, Republican Caucus leaders also watered down the effects of the law on Native American land. Currently, non-Native Americans living on tribal land who are arrested must be prosecuted in Federal court. The problem occurs when federal law enforcement offices are hundreds of miles away from the situation. They rarely prosecute roughly 50 percent of these crimes due to their limited resources. As the laws are written, local tribal and state officials can do little to help the situation. They just don’t have the authority. 

According to the American Bar Association, Native American women are more than two times as likely to be sexually assaulted as other racial groups. Around 70 percent of these instances have been perpetrated by non-Native Americans. 

Both bills do offer changes that will help fix the loophole and give greater protection to this underserved community which is a welcome step. It’s just a question of how much protection each gives and to whom it is given. 

Given our current economic issues, it’s also important to note that the current bill provides 17 percent less funding for the programs than the previous reauthorization in 2005. Yes, the government is reducing spending on its own without needing automatic across-the-board cuts. Shocking to say the least. 

With the challenges the bill still faces, many question whether the legislative branch can work out a compromise and get VAWA passed. Just last year they failed to renew similar legislation due to the same type of disagreement. The 2013 versions shouldn’t have to suffer a similar fate. 

Congress must work together to ensure vital legislation like VAWA gets passed. And yes, I’m a little skeptical. Surprise me Washington and come together to do what’s right. After all, isn’t that what we elected you to do?

— Amanda Beam is a Floyd County resident and Jeffersonville native. Contact her by email at hoosiermandyblog@gmail.com

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