New AI report on sexual violence toward Indigenous women in US
Amnesty International has a new report out on sexual violence toward indigenous women that can be downloaded from their site here.
Amnesty International. 2006. Maze of Injustice: The failure to protect Indigenous women from sexual violence in the USA. New York: Amnesty International.
It’s a pretty sobering document. I’m struck though be some of the similarities between the situation of Native American and Alaskan Native women and the Aboriginal communities here in Australia. So often, here in Oz, conservative commentators seem to treat the various social problems that beset Aboriginal communities—sexual abuse, violence, drug and alcohol dependency—as inherently ‘Aboriginal’. Even the most cursory awareness of the situation of displaced indigenous communities in other countries would reveal that they face similar problems. With such great diversity (both biological and cultural) in the communities involved—Inuit in Alaska and Canada, Native American across the US and Canada, foragers in Africa like the San or Ba’aka, Aborigines in Australia—arguing that it is something essential or inherent in ‘them’ that creates these problems seems impossible to maintain.
Two of the things that really struck me in the Amnesty International report were the extraordinary lack of police presence in these communities and the way that healthcare workers sometimes assumed that Native American patients were intoxicated even without other evidence. One heart-wrenching story about a traumatized, gang-raped Native American women being treated as though her problem was being drunk, when in fact she was badly beaten up, sexually assaulted, and traumatized, should probably be required reading of students in rural health and medicine.