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Mary Pember: Keystone XL project puts Native women at risk

Mary Annette Pember reports on the potential for the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline to put Native women in South Dakota at risk for sexual violence:
The human devastation wrought by the economic energy boom in the Great Plains region may get worse for Native women. This nightmare, according to Keith Darling-Berkus has created a culture of misogyny in which sexual violence—including rape, sex trafficking and domestic assault—are normalized. It has been described as “a male-dominated dystopian nightmare.”

That description is especially ominous for Native women, who are 2.5 times more likely to be victims of sexual violence than women of other races. The perpetrators of this violence are overwhelmingly non-Native.

Native advocates are predicting a similar fallout for women in South Dakota if the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline is approved. TransCanada plans to house pipeline construction workers in three rural man-camps located close to reservations in South Dakota. Each camp will house approximately 1,000 workers.

Both law enforcement officials and native and women’s rights advocates cite the emergence of these ‘man-camps’—temporary housing for transient workers—as major contributors to a rise in violence against all women wherever they are established.

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney for South Dakota, Kevin Koliner, Native women comprise 40 percent of sex trafficking victims in the state.

Get the Story:
Mary Annette Pember: Will Keystone XL Pipeline Pump Sexual Violence Into South Dakota? (Indian Country Today 1/27)

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