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Hirono: VAWA has helped raise public awareness on an issue that too often went unreported and ignored under the guise of politeness and privacy

Washington, D.C. -- Senator Mazie K. Hirono today joined her Senate colleagues in calling for the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). For almost two decades, this critical legislation has saved lives and helped domestic violence victims seek justice. While the Senate is expected to pass the VAWA reauthorization with bipartisan support today, House Republicans have not signaled whether they will take up the measure.

Hirono submitted the following remarks for the Congressional Record:

Mr. President, I rise today to speak in support of S. 47, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013. I am a cosponsor of this bill, and look forward to working with my colleagues to pass this important piece of legislation.

The grants created by this act have helped ensure services to domestic violence victims since 1994. VAWA has helped raise public awareness on an issue that too often went unreported and ignored under the guise of politeness and privacy by family, friends, and neighbors. 

Yet, while VAWA has raised awareness, increased reporting, and provided victims of domestic violence and similar crimes with better services and protection against perpetrators, there is still much work to be done to eliminate these crimes. Specifically, Mr. President, I am concerned about the high instances of domestic violence in Indian country. I am pleased that S. 47 includes language to provide tribal governments the force they need to prosecute non-Indian perpetrators who commit these crimes on tribal land. There is no reason a non-Indian perpetrator should go unpunished because a tribe lacked jurisdiction over him or her, and it is especially egregious that in such cases, the perpetrator may go unpunished for crimes committed on tribal land. Every citizen of this nation, Mr. President, deserves the safety and security that comes with a peaceful home and safe relationship. 

Indeed, Mr. President, I believe non-citizen immigrants who have moved to this country and found themselves trapped in an unsafe relationship or family setting also deserve the protections provided by VAWA. S. 47 provides the types of protections necessary to assist law enforcement in prosecuting crimes that might otherwise have gone unreported by immigrants fearful of losing their status.

I hope my colleagues will join me in supporting S. 47, and will work to make the bill, and the services and protections it provides, as strong as possible.