Utne Reader: Finding justice for Native women
"An Amnesty International report released late last month revealed a stockpile of shocking statistics about the pervasive sexual violence confronting Native American women. According to the report, "Maze of Injustice," more than one in three Native American women will be raped at some point in their lives. What's more, Native American women are nearly three times more likely to be victims of rape and sexual assault than white women in the United States.

Writing for the Progressive, Rita Pyrillis, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe, notes that, sadly, these statistics aren't even a full accounting of the number of victims. Confronted with a "chronically understaffed and underfunded justice and law enforcement system and its confusing jurisdictional lines," victims of sexual violence lack for both protection and advocacy. "Not surprisingly, most Indian women never report sexual assaults," Pyrillis writes. "When they do, they risk further pain and humiliation only to watch the perpetrator usually go free."

This jurisdictional confusion is parsed in the Amnesty report, which singles out a "maze of different tribal, federal, and state areas of authority" as leaving Native women acutely vulnerable to sexual abuse. As the report explains, jurisdiction for a crime committed on tribal land is dependent on whether or not the perpetrator is Native American. "Consequently," the report says, "survivors of sexual violence receive a different response depending on the location where the crime took place and the Indigenous status of the perpetrator, resulting in uneven and inconsistent access to justice and accountability.... Sometimes the confusion and the length of time it takes to decide whether tribal, state, or federal authorities have jurisdiction over a particular crime result in inadequate investigations or in a failure to respond at all.""

Get the Story:
Finding Justice for Native Women (Utne Reader 5/17)

Amnesty International Report:
Full Report | Press Release

Online Discussion:
Violence against Native American and Alaska Native Women (April 24, 2007)

Relevant Links:
Join Voices with Native American and Alaska Native Women and Take Action to Stop the Violence - http://www.amnestyusa.org/maze

Related Stories:
Deer: Demanding justice for Native women victims (5/4)
Editorial: Better approach to crimes against women (5/3)
Cangleska set to open new shelter at Pine Ridge (5/2)
'No one cares' about violence against Native women (4/30)
Editorial: Injustice for indigenous women (4/27)
Editorial: U.S. fails to protect Native women (4/26)
BIA ties violence against women to meth abuse (4/26)
Violence against Native women a 'national disgrace' (4/25)
Report details 'maze' Native women victims face (4/25)
Amnesty report on violence against Native women (4/24)
Husband of slain Navajo weaver found dead (4/18)
Navajo weaver killed a day before divorce was final (4/12)
Husband suspected in death of Navajo weaver (4/11)
Man acquitted for sexual assault of Native teen (03/27)
Tearful Native teen recalls sexual assault at trial (3/21)
Jodi Rave: Violence against Native women rising (3/12)
'Missing from the Circle' website launches (03/09)
Project seeks to create Indian Country crime database (3/2)
US Attorney: Critic hides contempt for tribes (01/03)
Opinion: Misleading stories on reservation homicide (1/2)
US Attorney: Tribes need more law enforcement (12/04)
Ute Reservation the 'murder capital of Colorado' (11/27)
Report outlines high murder rate of Native women (09/21)
Data shows high rates of Native violence in Farmington (08/31)
Pine Ridge Reservation shelter helps hundreds (08/10)
Walk raises awareness of domestic violence (05/12)
Shakopee Tribe awards anti-domestic violence grant (05/03)
Tribes unite for domestic violence awareness (04/25)
Men sentenced to life in prison for kidnap, rape (01/27)
Domestic violence an epidemic in Indian Country (11/8)
Editorial: Breaking the circle of domestic violence (10/26)
Figures show drop in Indian Country jail population (10/25)
Michigan tribe marches against domestic violence (10/21)
Navajo man leads walk against domestic violence (10/12)
Senate approves violence act with tribal provisions (10/5)
DOJ awards grants for Indian women safety sites (09/22)
Editorial: Protect Native women from domestic violence (09/12)
Domestic violence a problem on Montana reservations (9/9)
Violence Against Women Act set to expire this month (9/6)
Column: Genocide of Indian women continues today (08/15)
Violence Against Women Act includes tribal provisions (06/14)
Study finds high rates of trauma among two tribes (06/01)
Harjo: Native women aren't safe in Indian Country (04/29)
Two charged with rapes on Montana reservation (02/25)
Congress puts focus on Indian Country crime (11/22)
Violent crime on the rise on Navajo Nation (11/02)
Tribal rights recognized in domestic violence bill (10/26)
Alaska wants to reduce tribal powers in child welfare (09/09)
Two grants to combat domestic violence on reservation (09/01)
Justice bill shifts priorities in Indian Country (8/4)
Criminals on Navajo Nation sometimes set free (07/30)
Tribal authority over all Indians still unsettled question (06/23)
Native women in Oklahoma at high risk for violence (05/26)
Federal prosecutor seeks to change 'national shame' (04/19)
IHS compiles domestic violence research (10/29)
Native youth victimization outpaces nation (07/17)
Natives top violent crime list again (4/8)
One in 10 hate crimes target American Indians (10/1)
DOJ: American Indians highest injured (6/25)
DOJ: Violent crime plagues Indian Country (3/19)