Is it time to add the number two Republican in the house to the list of GOPers who downplay rape?
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has been working lately with Vice President Joe Biden on reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), after it expired last year. That sounds like a good thing. But here’s the sticking point:
The rate of sexual assault on Native-American women is more than twice the national average. And according to Amnesty International, 86% of Native American women who are raped are attacked by non-Indians—who are beyond the reach of tribal authorities. As a result, “we have serial rapists on the reservation—that are non-Indian—because they know they can get away with it,” one native American activist told Salon.
So some House Republicans proposed a measure to fix the problem, by allowing tribal courts to try non-Indians in such cases, while still letting the defendants move the case to a federal court if they felt their rights weren’t being protected.
But Cantor—who’s seen as influential with the conservative wing of the House GOP caucus—is blocking the proposal, the Huffington Post reported last week, because he doesn’t want to give added jurisdictions to Indian tribes. And he may end up killing the VAWA re-authorization over the dispute.
In other words, for Cantor, limiting the authority of tribal courts is more important than making sure rapists are prosecuted and women are protected from domestic violence. Good to get that clear.