Today, Senators Lisa Murkowski, Catherine Cortez Masto, and Jon Tester announced bipartisan legislation called the Not Invisible Act to address violence against Native American women and outline a federal strategy to reduce the skyrocketing rates of murdered, missing, and trafficked indigenous women in the United States.
The Not Invisible Act would create an advisory committee, composed of tribal leaders and experts, to research and propose best practices to prevent violence against indigenous women to the Justice Department and Interior Department and recommend how to better use federal resources. Cortez Masto said this bill will help the federal government understand what is happening to Native women, why they are disappearing, where they are going, and better train law enforcement in cases of sex trafficking.
Cortz Masto announced, “I know from working with my tribal communities … that human trafficking is occurring. We need to play catch up on this.”
Indigenous women are murdered at a rate ten times the national average and eighty-four percent of native women will experience violence in their lifetimes. Native women and girls are disproportionately victims of sex trafficking, leading to why native women are disappearing at alarming rates. Since 2010, at least 350 native women have gone missing or been killed in over 70 U.S. cities.
Earlier this year, Senator Murkowski introduced Savanna’s Act in an attempt to standardize protocols for law enforcement agencies regarding violence against Native women and to update data for federal databases relevant to missing or murdered Native American women. Savanna’s Act is named in honor of Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, a pregnant Spirit Lake tribe member, who was murdered in South Dakota in 2017. Originally, Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota introduced the bill in October 2017 to address the violence that afflicts Native American women. Last year, the act passed in the Senate but was killed by Republican Bob Goodlatte in the House Judiciary Committee in 2018.
Media Resources: HuffPost 4/3/19; Feminist Newswire 2/13/19