Opinion: Women and children can't wait for justice
"Indian women are victimized at astonishingly high rates -- 2 1/2 times the national average, according to Justice Department data. More than one-third of all Indian women will be raped at least once during their lifetimes, and nearly two-thirds will be violently assaulted. Nearly 90% of rapes and sexual assaults involve non-Indian assailants.

To exploit the jurisdictional void, some pedophiles became teachers in Bureau of Indian Affairs schools -- where they had little or no fear of prosecution even after being caught molesting Indian kids. Non-Indian drug gangs have discovered this legal loophole and have set up methamphetamine operations on reservations. Other non-Indian traffickers have intentionally married Indian women to establish themselves on reservations, where their risk of prosecution is lowest.

Regardless of the cause, the most logical remedy is quite simple: Substitute the word "persons" for the word "Indians" in one sentence of the Indian Civil Rights Act.

That small change would allow tribes to prosecute anyone, Indian and non-Indian alike, who commits a crime on Indian land. Tribal and federal prosecutors could then work complementarily, just as state and federal prosecutors do.

Why should a non-Indian who molests an Indian child or rapes an Indian woman be able to escape justice merely by committing the crime on a reservation?

Congress has fixed other jurisdictional voids created by Supreme Court decisions. It should do so again, and soon. Indian women and children cannot afford to wait another 30 years for justice."

Get the Story:
Gavin Clarkson: Reservations beyond the law (The Los Angeles Times 8/3)
pwday

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

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