AI’s report on violence against Native American and Alaska Native women sparks national debate.
By Clay Westrope
With the release of its April report Maze of Injustice: The failure to protect indigenous women from sexual violence in the USA, Amnesty International drew national attention to the epidemic levels of sexual violence against Native American and Alaska Native women. Native groups that had worked for years on the issue received an important boost to their dedicated efforts. Within just a few weeks of the report’s publication, lawmakers, media outlets and individuals responded with concrete action, such as:
• News coverage of the report in the New York Times, Washington Post, Indian Country Today, Native American Times, Associated Press, and National Public Radio; discussion in the blogs Daily Kos and Feministing.
• A reception hosted by actor Leonard Nimoy and his wife, Susan Bay Nimoy, at their home in Los Angeles to promote the report.
• Congressional hearings to gather expert testimony and to discuss solutions, including actions Congress may take to address the problem. AIUSA and its partner organization, Tribal Law and Policy Institute, testified at these hearings.
• The reopening of the investigation into the rape of a 21-yearold Native American woman on the Standing Rock Reservation in South Dakota. Shortly after the rape, the young woman committed suicide.
• Spending bills adopted by the U.S. Senate and House that would significantly increase funding for the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The Senate proposal allocates funding for a baseline study on violence against Indigenous women.