Quick heads up: last week Amnesty International released a report on sexual violence against Indigenous women in amerika. i have not had a chance to read Maze of Injustice: The failure to protect Indigenous women from sexual violence in the USA, but you all can do so as it’s online.
From skimming it though, here’s some things i noted:
Contemporary scholars on traditional Native American and Alaska Native cultures have found that prior to colonization women often held esteemed positions in society. Available evidence indicates that violence against women was rare and, when it occurred, was often severely punished. Colonization and its aftermath profoundly changed gender roles among Indigenous peoples. For example, settlers and government officials insisted on dealing only with men, while Christian missionaries exerted pressure on Indigenous peoples to assume what their churches considered proper gender roles. Gender-based violence against women by settlers was used in many infamous episodes, including during the Trail of Tears and the Long Walk. Such attacks were not random or individual; they were an integral part of conquest and colonization. Many scholars take the position that these and other historical acts amount to genocide.
Over the past decade, federal government studies have consistently shown that American Indian and Alaska Native women experience much higher levels of sexual violence than other women in the USA. Data gathered by the US Department of Justice indicates that Native American and Alaska Native women are more than 2.5 times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than women in the USA in general. A US Department of Justice study on violence against women concluded that 34.1 per cent of American Indian and Alaska Native women – or more than one in three – will be raped during their lifetime; the comparable figure for the USA as a whole is less than one in five. Shocking though these statistics are, it is widely believed that they do not accurately portray the extent of sexual violence against Native American and Alaska Native women.
According to the US Department of Justice, in at least 86 per cent of reported cases of rape or sexual assault against American Indian and Alaska Native women, survivors report that the perpetrators are non-Native men. The Department’s data on sexual violence against non-Native women, in contrast, shows that for non-Indigenous victims, sexual violence is usually committed within an individual’s own race.
Rape is always an act of violence, but there is evidence to suggest that sexual violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women involves a higher level of additional physical violence. Fifty per cent of American Indian and Alaska Native women reported that they suffered physical injuries in addition to the rape; the comparable figure for women in general in the USA is 30 per cent.