Remarks by Congressman Ed Case in support of S.7, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Technical Amendment Act of 2022
Washington, December 13, 2022
I rise today in support of S.7, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Technical Amendment Act of 2022. This bill will ensure the full inclusion of Native Hawaiians, the indigenous peoples of our country whose origins lie in Hawai’i, in the Services, Training, Officers and Prosecutors (STOP) Grants for Tribal Coalitions program under VAWA.
Violence against indigenous women has reached crisis levels on tribal lands and in Alaska Native villages. In Hawai‘i, gender-based violence against Native Hawaiians is also at a breaking point.
Much like their American Indian and Alaska Native counterparts elsewhere, Native Hawaiians face substantially higher rates of intimate partner violence, family violence, sexual assault and sex trafficking than any other racial or ethnic group in Hawai‘i. According to most available data from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, 67 to 77 percent of sex trafficking victims in Hawai‘i are Native Hawaiian women and girls, and 37 percent of reported child sex trafficking cases in Hawai‘i involve Native Hawaiians. They are also disproportionately represented across the many forms of sexual violence.
To address these issues within Native Hawaiian communities, we must develop and implement community-driven, culturally relevant and intergenerational approaches for supporting Native Hawaiian women. Unfortunately, because of a drafting error in the 2013 VAWA reauthorization bill, Native Hawaiian domestic violence victims have been excluded from VAWA STOP Grants, which deliver just such programs, and thus effectively deprived of vital services and support. While tribal coalitions and Native Hawaiian Organizations are eligible for STOP Grant funding, both tribal coalitions and Native Hawaiian Organizations are limited to only serving American Indians and Alaska Natives, not Native Hawaiians. This must be corrected.
The VAWA Technical Amendment Act simply adds Native Hawaiians as eligible for VAWA-related services from Native nonprofit grantees. Any Native Hawaiian Organization interested and eligible to provide critical domestic violence and sexual assault services to Native Hawaiian survivors must be given the opportunity to do so. This technical correction will allow this to happen, ensuring that Native Hawaiian Organizations can serve Native Hawaiians in need of these critical services.
More work lies ahead for our federal government to address and eliminate the ongoing violence against indigenous women in our country, and I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues on these efforts to support all Native survivors of domestic and sexual violence.
Mahalo (thank you).