V-day Plus 6
V-day Plus 6, which took place on February 20, 2013 (six days after Valentine’s Day), was designated by Amnesty International-HFCC as a day to collect as many signatures as possible to send them to the Speaker of the US Congress. Signed hearts were attached to letters petitioning for Speaker Boehner to secure the passage of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). VAWA will secure protection for women who are being exploited and abused, as well as provide added protection for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people (LGBT). A main feature of the law is the protection of Native American women who live on reservations across the United States, including Alaskan reservations.
Almost one third of the women on the reservations are being abused in some way. Not only are far too many women abused, but four out of every five abusers are not from the reservation; this creates a legal loophole through which these men escape justice. Many crimes that occur on the reservations are handled by the reservation police, but if the person who is committing the crime is not part of the reservation and escapes from its territory, the tribal court officers have no jurisdiction to go out and catch the rapist or even put him on trial. They are stuck with twiddling their thumbs, hoping that the FBI or the police in the region can sentence that man.
Protection of women’s rights is a human necessity -- something many fellow Henry Ford Community College students agreed to as they whole-heartedly signed the hearts in order to help. The members of Amnesty International-HFCC hoped not only to shed light on the abuse occurring on the reservations and the ease by which some men were escaping from it, but also to show people that they have a voice and that it should be heard.
The Violence Against Women Act will be coming up for reauthorization soon, but the current House bill severely cuts away LGBT protections and restricts the jurisdiction of the tribal courts, which in turn protect women on reservations. According to the new revisions of the bill, protection from abuse is limited according to sexual orientation, and the right to pass out judgment to rapists is wrenched away from the tribal courts.
Being protected from abuse should not end at the beginning of the reservation lines nor should it be based on a person’s sexual orientation. AI-HFCC members urge all readers to write to their US Representatives emphasizing that point exactly: everyone is at risk of abuse, but all human beings should be protected, no matter their beliefs, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.