HONOLULU (KHON2) — The U.S. Senate passed legislation meant to support Native Hawaiian survivors of gender-based violence on Thursday, Nov. 17.

The legislation will become part of the Violence Against Women Act and allows Native Hawaiian survivors access to critical programs and resources provided by Congress through the VAWA.

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The legislation was introduced by Hawai’i’s Senator Mazie Hirono and will provide crucial services to Native Hawaiians who have experienced gender-based violence due to their gender or sex orientation.

“For decades, Congress has provided funding to organizations that support survivors of gender-based violence through the Violence Against Women Act. This funding is critical to support all women, including Native women who experience disproportionately high levels of sexual violence. However, Native Hawaiian women have been excluded from accessing these much-needed resources,” said Senator Hirono.

The VAWA provides funding to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, sex-trafficking, dating violence and stalking. These services, which have been accessible to American Indians and Alaska Natives, will now be extended to Native Hawaiians.

“Today, I’m proud that the Senate unanimously passed my legislation to amend VAWA to ensure that Native Hawaiian organizations can actually serve the Native Hawaiian community. This bill will allow Native Hawaiian survivors to get the support they deserve and will enable Native Hawaiian organizations to do even more in the fight to end sexual violence,” added Hirono.

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“More than two-thirds 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 are Native Hawaiian,” according to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.