Trump Signs 2 Laws Addressing Missing And Murdered Indigenous Women
President Donald Trump signed two bills on Saturday evening that will finally do something about a terrible and largely invisible crisis in America: Hundreds of indigenous women simply disappear or are murdered.
The first bill, Savanna's Law, will help law enforcement agencies better respond to a devastating situation where no one can tell what exactly is going on. At least 506 native women and girls have been missing or murdered in 71 U.S. cities, including more than 330 since 2010, according to a November 2018 report by the Urban Indian Health Institute. And that's probably a gross under-count given the limited or total lack of data that are collected by law enforcement agencies.
Ninety-five percent of these cases were never covered by the national media, and the circumstances of many of these deaths and disappearances are still unknown.
Savanna's Law, penned by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), is as much an attempt to draw attention to the issue as it is to understand the gravity of the problem. The new law will encourage coordination and data collection between tribal, local, state and federal law enforcement agencies in cases involving missing and murdered local women. Federal agencies must seek recommendations from the tribes to improve the safety of native women and, in consultation with the tribes, establish new guidelines for responding to these cases.
Many of these disappearances and killings have been traced back to domestic violence, sexual assault, and sex trafficking. 84 percent of indigenous women have been exposed to violence in their lifetime, and in some tribal communities indigenous women are murdered at a rate ten times the national average.
Murkowski's bill is named after Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, a 22-year-old indigenous woman who was kidnapped and killed in North Dakota in 2017. She was eight months pregnant and her baby was cut from the womb.
Activists march for missing and murdered indigenous women at the women's march on January 19, 2019 in Los Angeles. (Photo: Sarah Morris via Getty Images)
The other bill that Trump signed, the Not Invisible Act, would force the federal government to step up responses to indigenous women being missing, murdered, or being forced into sex.
"Today we reached a major milestone in our efforts to bring justice to victims, to heal their families and to protect women, children and families across the country," Murkowski said in a statement. “I'm proud that we moved this issue from awareness to action - by developing lasting policies to bring about real, lasting change. ... Today we are reminding these families that they are important and that their loved ones are lost. "
Trump tweeted that he was proud to sign the bills.
The White House issued a lengthy statement in which Trump signed the two bills and boasted the president's leadership on the issue.
While his signing of these bills is a positive development, in reality Trump's report on tribal issues has been harmful and extremely offensive for years.
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.
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