Letter: Protecting Women From Violence

To the Editor:

The Senate has voted by a large margin in favor of the Violence Against Women Act. However, there seem to be a few Republicans who can prevent the House from passing the bill. It is hard to capture just how important this bill is for all women, but particularly so for Native American women.

According to an article by Jonathan Weisman in the Feb. 11 New York Times, Native American women are powerless on their own reservations to find protection against white men. The article tells the story of a native woman who suffered beatings from her white husband, but the Southern Ute Tribal Police could not touch him, nor could the La Plata County sheriff’s deputies. Federal law enforcement, which does have jurisdiction, was hundreds of miles away and provided no help. The abusive man was free to continue; in fact, he called the country sheriff to prove to his wife that he could not be stopped. He was so violent that he opened fire and wounded an employee of the Bureau of Land Management.

Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., said that Native American women are two and a half times more likely to be raped, that one in three will be assaulted, and three out of five face domestic violence. This strikes me as another example of racism. How sad. This bill would at long last allow Native American police and courts to pursue non-Indians who attack women on tribal land.

Can these few people in the House really not understand the pathetic situation of our American sisters? Can they not understand that many other women in our country have this terrible problem also? It appears that Rep. Eric Cantor, House majority leader, is going to try to explain this to unwilling House members.

It is easy to call Cantor’s office, easy to spread the message through Facebook and easy to call our representatives. We all need help against these few people. Please do try.

Rose Miller