As Republican US Senators proposed a watered-down version of the Violence Against Women Act, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) held a press conference in Washington, D.C. today featuring Tulalip Tribes vice-chairwoman Deborah Parker, a victim of sexual violence and an advocate for Native victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Republicans have opposed reauthorizing the bill, which passed uneventfully in 1994 with unanimous, bipartisan support, because it would expand protections to Native American women victimized by non-Natives, women rural areas, and some illegal immigrants; would increase the availability of free legal assistance to domestic violence victims; would create new protections against stalking; and would help train court personnel to help families with a history of violence. The new protections for illegal immigrants are aimed at protecting “child brides” brought to the US for sex slavery.



Parker, who said she was in D.C. on an unrelated environmental matter, tearfully recalled being molested as a toddler in the 1970s "by a man who had no boundaries or regards for a little child's life, my life"; an aunt who was raped by four or five men while she listened from the next room; and a woman on her reservation who was killed by a partner. None of the perpetrators, she said, were ever prosecuted.

Today, Parker said, "we still have no real protect for women on our reservations.

"My question for Congress was and has always been, why did you not protect me or my family? Why is my life and the life of so many other Native American women less important?"

US Attorneys, according to Murray's office, routinely decline to prosecute a majority of violent crimes on Native reservations, including sexual assaults.

Watch Parker's testimony here.
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