New Bill Combats Violence Against Indigenous Women
Lisa Murkowski, Republican from Alaska; Catherine Cortez Masto, Democrat from Nevada; and Jon Tester, Democrat from Montana introduced the bi-partisan “Not Invisible Act of 2019” in early April 2019 in hopes to establish a new sense of responsibility within the federal government to combat the epidemic of violence against women within Native American and Alaskan Native communities. Up to 86% of Native women experience some type of violence in their lifetime, and many of these cases go cold due to lack of resources or the chilling truth that these cases often are not the priority of police departments along the West Coast.
According to Senator Murkowski’s press release this April, “This [bill] establishes an advisory committee of local, tribal and federal stakeholders to make recommendations… on best practices to combat the epidemic of disappearances, homicide, violent crime and trafficking of Native Americans and Alaska Natives.” Without this collaboration, the trend of negligence and rare justice would continue and Native women would continue to face horrifying statistics. The National Crime Information Center states that 5,712 indigenous women were reported missing in 2016, yet 116 were logged by the U.S. Department of Justice’s federal missing persons database, many of which are still missing today.
Cortez Masto hopes that this bill will help federal agencies improve their efforts to cases involving indigenous women, and allow authorities to understand why these crimes so disproportionately affect indigenous women and what can be done to prevent them. “It’s long past time the topic of missing and murdered indigenous women received this type of national attention,” says Senator Murkowski, who is optimistic about the bill and its impact.
Zoie Konneker is a student of Media & Communication at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She is the Editor-in-Chief of the Technique newspaper, an ambitious social justice activist and a member of the AllWrite Publishing intern team for the summer of 2019.