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Violence Against Native Women at Epidemic Proportions
Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Currents
WASHINGTON - Testimony heard yesterday before the US Committee on Indian Affairs about violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women was disturbing and disconcerting.
Minnesota US Senator Al Franken, a member of the committee and who called for the hearing, said violence against women to be at epidemic proportions.
The fact that one of three American Indian and Alaska Native females will be raped in their lifetime came up several times during the entire hearing. This tragic statistic was just part of the testimony at the hearing, called "Native Women: Protecting, Shielding, and Safeguarding Our Sisters, Mothers and Daughters," will cover three issues of violence perpetrated against American Indian and Alaska Native women:
sexual assault and
Unfortunately, only 50 percent of the cases of violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women are ever prosecuted. And when they are prosecuted and a conviction is made, the criminal only faces a maximum of three years in prison or jail.
Poignant testimony was made about sex trafficking of American Indian and Alaska Native women by Sarah Deer, Muskogee /Creek, associate professor at the William Mitchell College of Law. Part of her testimony:
"Crimes of sexual violence are often undocumented and known to be underreported - and due to the nature of trafficking and prostitution, current understanding and analysis of just how widespread and severe the problems are known to be partial at best. We advocate for a future hearing that focuses specifically on the issues of prostitution and trafficking of Native women. We believe that several Native women could speak to you about their experience and the failures of the system to address the ongoing systemic discrimination that they have faced."
Sherry Sanchez Tibbetts, executive director of the American Indian Community Housing Organization, based in Duluth, Minnesota testified that almost half the clients entering her agency for services to initially seek housing needs were later determined to be victims of sex trafficking or been involved with prostitution:
"In 2008, we found that 46 percent of all the women connected to an American Indian Community Housing Organization program had been involved in trafficking or prostitution. When staff realized that nearly one out of every two women who were in our office on regular basis had been commercially sexually exploited, they were shocked. Most of those women had not presented as 'trafficking victims,' though some had admitted that they had entered into prostitution or started 'hooking' when they were twelve or thirteen years old. The women seeking services at American Indian Community Housing Organization had come to our offices from other community programs, reservations, and the streets. They presented as 'just homeless' or in need of shelter after their 'boyfriend had beat them,' and only later acknowledged that their 'boyfriend' had actually trafficked or forced them into prostitution."
Link to Recorded US Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Hearing
posted July 15, 2011 11:57 am edt
http://www.nativenewsnetwork.com/violen … tions.html
Addressing Epidemic of Sexual Violence Against Native Women in USPrisoners and People at Risk, United Nations, USA, Women's Rights
Posted by: Angela Chang, July 20, 2011 at 4:11 PM
This past Thursday, Amnesty’s Sarah Deer testified before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs hearing on protecting native women in the US.
Deer, a Native women’s advocate and member of Amnesty USA’s Native American and Alaska Native Advisory Council, addressed the safety and justice challenges native women in the United States face as documented by our 2007 Maze of Injustice report.
Our report revealed that 1 in 3 Native American and Alaskan Native women will be raped in her lifetime. Native women are also 2.5 times more likely to be raped than non-Native women in the US with nearly 86% of rapes perpetrated by non-Native men. Widespread human rights abuses within the judicial system and the maze of the complex interrelation of federal, state, and tribal jurisdictions often allows perpetrators to act with impunity and evade justice.
Deer also shared shocking new information on the sex trafficking of Native women with hearing participants. Chaired by Senator Akaka (D-HI), the hearing was also attended by Vice-Chairman Barrasso (R-WY), Senator Murkowski (R-AK), Senator Udall (D-NM), and Senator Franken (D-MN), who personally introduced Sarah and thanked Amnesty USA for our activism and commitment to protecting women.
The hearing included a wide range of witnesses who provided insight on the causes and consequences of violence and discrimination against Native women. Hearings like this one are an essential first step to truly understanding the complexity and depth of some of the issues facing Native women, and only by working in partnership with those on the ground can Congress expect to make lasting change.
While the 2010 passage of the Tribal Law and Order Act will begin to address long-term standing disparities between the justice systems on tribal lands – much more remains to be done.
The US government must use the recently endorsed UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a framework for addressing and upholding the rights of Indigenous communities in the US – and Congress must ensure that full and timely implementation of legislation such as TLOA continues to be a priority.
From improving justice and victim advocate services, to ensuring that a survivor of sexual assault is able to access timely and adequate healthcare services, Congress must work to ensure that the historic discrimination and disparities that American Indian and Alaska Native women face are reversed and addressed immediately.
This epidemic of violence must end, and we have the power to do it. Check out the Women’s Human Rights page on our site to see how you can take action!
http://blog.amnestyusa.org/women/addres … men-in-us/