This is one of those where you ask – WTF took so long? Why have previous Presidents ignored this?
We have “basic human rights” in this country – EXCEPT for Native American women?
Hat Tip to Blue Wave on this one!
President Obama today signed into law something that will bring the mechanism of our justice system more within the reach of Native American victims of rape – the Tribal Law and Order Act. Why is such a law necessary? Well, for one thing, one in three Native American women will be raped in her lifetime.
But in Indian Country, rape survivors bear additional burdens. They must report their crimes to federal law enforcement authorities, whom long and hard experience has told them to distrust. Cultural sensitivity is often nonexistent. Often, the law enforcement officers, investigators, prosecutors and health examiners are white men, and for many Native women cultural traditions may militate against talking to them about such intimate matters. So when you read that one in three Native women will be raped at least once in her lifetime, you can be assured that those numbers are underreported at even greater rates than in the general population.
Aji provides many additional shocking statistics, such as the fact that Native women are more than twice as likely as all other ethnic groups, to fall prey to rapists, but perhaps the most searing – and telling – stat is this one:
While most rapes occur within racial groups, this is not true for Native women. More than 86 percent of the offenders are non-Indians, and more than 70 percent are white.
Why is this fact so important?
Because until today, Native women raped by a non-Indian assailant had virtually no recourse. With rare exceptions, only federal law enforcement authorities have had jurisdiction to arrest and prosecute non-Native offenders on tribal lands. And historically, federal authorities have cared little about such cases: Federal authorities routinely decline to prosecute more than 50 percent of all violent crimes committed in Indian Country; the rate of declination is much higher for sexual assault cases.
Now, at least Native women can be a little more certain that their assailants will face prosecution for their crimes.
Much more info is available in Aji’s article. I encourage you to read the whole thing.
Another facet of the problem is explained in this article – sex slavery. Without this law in place, traffickers aren’t prosecuted.