Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas introduced the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2018. VAWA was first passed with bipartisan support in 1994, and since then each iteration has included important improvements that expand the safety net for survivors of the range of crimes covered by the law, including domestic abuse, dating abuse, stalking, and human trafficking. Congresswoman Jackson Lee’s bill continues that important tradition.
VAWA is central to Maine’s response to domestic abuse and violence. Funding through the STOP and Improving Criminal Justice Response grant programs have played critical roles in the expansion of services and outreach by Maine’s domestic violence resource centers in recent years. Maine’s successful Domestic Violence-Child Protective Services Program was born out of a Rural Grant, and continues to be partially funded that way. And we at the Coalition office rely on the Coalition Grant Program to fund a significant amount of our systems collaboration and training work.
MCEDV is grateful for the important initiatives contained in the bill. It is, however, missing a component that is vital to Maine. Due to state law, unless VAWA specifically names the Wabanaki Tribes of Maine, important protections intended to benefit indigenous communities will be available elsewhere – but not to tribal communities here.
We call on Mainers to ask their representatives in Congress to support VAWA reauthorization, and ask them to work with the bill’s sponsors to include the Wabanaki Tribes of Maine in an amendment. Only in this way do we accomplish the goals at the heart of this critical legislation: to craft a strong set of protections that will benefit all survivors.