For Native American Women, Sex Assault Is 'the Norm'
Rate of rape much higher than the rest of the country
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2012 12:37 PM CDT
Sandbags surround the tribal center on the Hoh Indian Reservation, Dec. 9, 2008.   (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

(Newser) – The official number is bad enough: One in three American Indian women have experienced rape or attempted rape, a rate more than twice the national average. But it gets worse: One survey finds that in some rural villages, the rate of sexual violence is as much as 12 times the national rate, and interviews by the New York Times found that sexual assault is so common that few, if any, Native American women living on tribal reservations escape it. "We should never have a woman come into the office saying, 'I need to learn more about Plan B for when my daughter gets raped,'" says one women's health advocate on a South Dakota reservation. "That’s what’s so frightening—that it’s more expected than unexpected. It has become a norm for young women."

The Times article relays wrenching stories (the 19-year-old rape victim who never received a return phone call from tribal police), offers more heartbreaking statistics (just 10% of sex assaults on reservations are reported, and arrests are made in just 13% of those cases), and details the myriad problems contributing to the tragic situation: isolated villages; alcohol abuse and a breakdown of the family structure; a lack of sexual assault training. And the issue is now causing contention in Washington, as Republicans and Democrats wrestle over reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act: The Senate wants to give tribal courts more power to prosecute non-Indians in sex assaults, but some Republicans disagree. The Times' entire heartbreaking article is worth a read.

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Showing 3 of 21 comments
USLady
May 25, 2012 11:00 AM CDT
They have almost become the forgotten people! they live very poorly on these reservations,they are gave Gov food,they are almost forced to stay on the reservation and not leave,or lose all they have.They have a high rate of people drinking and losing hope in what they can do and their freedom in a free country is very limited.Many People do not know how very poor they live.It should not be this way for these people,they need help,the law is limited to what they can do with them,even concerning rape.They get drunk,they get in a frame of mind that is not right.And they do not care feeling like their life is being wasted.I really would like to see them helped,maybe if they showed how they live here in America,like they show the hungry and poor overseas,maybe then people would help.
Tat2d2bamuse
May 24, 2012 11:50 AM CDT
My Best friend works(as well as being apart of) within the Puyallup Tribe in Washington State. In the Child welfare department. I dont get the horror of knowing the day to day in her line of work...But I know it is not pretty...I have listened to many heart breaking tears without the details....So I know it is bad. The fact that they have grief counselors they can go to when stuff gets really bad.....Says everything. It breaks my heart to hear people marginalize this issue into a Liberal Bleeding heart problem. There is much to be said about what is causing the issue to maintain. It could come down tot he fact that there is little to no transparency in their culture. That they are left to be defended by their own corrupted police force. All I know is, it is cop out and a damn shame to read people that will place the blame on the bleeding heart liberals.......Because they want justice, equality and freedom for ALL Americans.....Like the Native Americans.......I dont see the Grand Ole' Republic or Republican Base doing anything to better ensure that these people are taking care of. Given the resources and ability to maintain their culture(I mean reali culture...You know what they knew and lived before we took over their Country). Spitting mad. Is the only way I can describe what I feel when reading some of the flaming and ignorant response's. And then the light build hits me...and I am reminded of why this country is in such bad shape...We are fueled by ignorance and red bull(shit).
bruno937
May 24, 2012 6:00 AM CDT
Hawaaians, African Americans, Puerto Ricans, American Indians: The victims of bleeding heart liberals and their welfare system n plantation mentality. Take poor people hand them cash and turn them into poor n dumb democrat voters. (no fan of repubs either) Actually the Zionists proving that their system on how to break down and slave a society works. Anti-family media, porn, alcohol, spectator sports, banking system, gay marriage, drugs, abortion industry are their typical tools. Indians and the other victims of this satanic system used to be the most proud people, look at them now. The rest of the society is next.