Thursday, January 31, 2008


I have written before, and posted a link to the NPR story, about rape and native women and our society's failure to respond adequately. (That's putting it politely.)

Later this year, I will be participating in a panel discussion about the problem of sexual violence and native women at a national conference. I will be appearing with academics, direct service workers, one of my volunteers, and women representing native women living on and off reservations. In preparation for my participation, I have received a full copy of the Amnesty International report called "Maze of Injustice: the failure to protect indegenous women from sexual violence in the USA."

Just typing the title makes chills run down my back and arms.

My agency has been operating for just shy of 20 years. The most established rape crisis programs have been in operation for just shy of 40 years. Nearly a quarter of the counties in my state don't have a rape crisis center within their county - and our state has pretty good coverage of services. However, the vast majority of rape crisis services offered in my state are combined into agencies offering other services and often sexual assault services are just lumped in with everything else.

But, it still shocks me that we so openly ignore a particularly vulnerable community of peoples. The reservation system requires that we devote resources to adequately serve the people living there. If we tell whole communities how they must live, where they must live, how much money they are allowed to earn, etc . . . then we need to take providing for their "life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness" seriously . . . one could argue that we have the responsibility to take it more seriously than we do for people we grant more freedoms.

I'm glad light is being shed . . . and I and all to honored to be one of the people focusing the spotlight.

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