Image Courtesy of Tumblr
Image Courtesy of Tumblr

Recently, US President Obama signed a revised version of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), adding protections for Native American women.  The new revisions seek to improve tribal jurisdiction by increasing tribal governments’ ability to govern and to bring perpetrators to justice.

Not only are Native American women often the subject of domestic abuse and rape, but reports state that sexual predators travel to reservations with the specific intent to rape. Because the 1978 US Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional for tribal courts to try non-Native Americans without Congress’ consent, sexual offenders are rarely brought to justice. In Minnesota, accounts of violence against women living in tribal communities increase during hunting season, as non-Native American perpetrators take advantage of immunity from prosecution. Lisa Brunner, an advocate for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in the Native American community, had this to say about sexual predators at Native American reservations:

“I call it hunting – non-natives come here hunting. They know they can come into our lands and rape us with impunity because they know that we can’t touch them. The US government has created that atmosphere.”

To better understand the injustices faced by Native American and Alaskan Native (NA/AN) women, read these staggering facts:

  • NA/AN women suffer from a 50% higher rate of domestic violence and physical assault than the next highest demographic.
  • A 2006 study revealed that 96% of NA/AN women were victims of rape, sexual assault, and/or physical abuse.
  • NA/AN women are more than 2.5 times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than non-natives.
  • More than 1 in 3 NA/AN women will be raped during her lifetime.
  • 86% of rapes and sexual assaults against NA/AN women cases are committed by non-Natives.
  • NA/AN victims of sexual and family violence are more likely than all other races to be injured and need hospital care.
  • Most NA/AN women do not report sexual crimes because they believe nothing will be done.
  • 17% of NA/AN women have been stalked in their lifetime.
  • Between 2005 and 2009, 67% of tribal sexual abuse cases sent to the federal government were declined.
  • On some reservations, women are murdered at a rate 10 times the national average.

Regarding the potential to experience sexual violence, one young Native American woman said:

When I’m raped, we won’t report it, because we know nothing will happen. We don’t want to cause problems for our family.”

Further reading:

Huffington Post’s “Violence Against Women Act Includes New Protections for Native American Women.”

The New York Times’ “Rape on the Reservation.”

Futures Without Violence’s “The Facts on Violence Against American Indian/Alaskan Native Women.”

Share your thoughts

7 Responses

  1. gangstalking is against the law.gangstalking in Alaska is against the law. gangstalking in valdez Alaska is against the law.

  2. I am amazed how human being can be treated regardless of their ethnicity. I love reading your article. They are being treated unfairly. Some of us are still denying that American Indian women suffer sexual violence when statistics are crystal clear. It is very important that there should be rules that are placed to protect people, especially marginalized groups. In Alaska, I cannot believe that the community members pretend the sexual violence does not occur. Victims do not report incidents of sexual violence most of the times, because they believe they will be met with indifference and inaction, or even blamed for the incident. I do not wish anybody to go through violence, such as rape, and people need to be protected no matter the color of their skin. We should have new laws to help and protect Native American women from violence. We should have more funds and special programs to help those who are unfortunate enough to be a victim of violence.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Coming Soon!

Subscribe and be the first to
know when we launch.

The content on Girls’ Globe is created by our members – activists, advocates and experts on gender equality, human rights and social justice from around the world.