Image credit: International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination & Liberation (IPMSDL) - Photo: 2022

Indigenous Women Fighting Back for A Future Free of Violence

By Romeo Jara*

MANILA (IDN) — Fifteen years and almost nothing much has changed. This is the result of an Amnesty International (AI) report titled “The Never-Ending Maze” about sexual violence towards Indigenous women in the United States as shared by AI USA’s Tarah Demant.

On September 14, the International IPMSDL hosted the online discussion “In Search of a Safer Future” which highlighted government failures in keeping Indigenous women safe.

“The rates of violence in some communities are so high… that when we were speaking with advocates and survivors, there were some communities where they didn’t know any adult women who had not experienced sexual violence,” Tarah said.

Underscored in the report focusing on American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) women is the US government’s sluggish and inept response in addressing sexual violence in the jurisdiction, policing, healthcare, support services, prosecutions, and justice aspects.

Juskwa Burnett, a First Nations Cree-Métis, stressed the seemingly unending domestic abuse and sexual assault. Brunett has been part of the 2007 and 2022 Amnesty International reports on the crisis of sexual violence.

“It’s important to hear some of these stories in reality because of what our government is not doing and has not been doing for a lot of years; it’s like systematic discrimination of women,” Juskwa shared.

But the danger and attack towards indigenous women mirrors even in Asia and Africa from the reactions by Cindy Kobei of Ogiek Peoples Development Program and Kat Dalon of Save Our Schools Network, Philippines.

Dalon cited correlations between sexual violence against Indigenous Lumad women and girls and the presence of police and the military encampments in their communities. Additionally, Kobei identified that the trauma women and girls go through is much rooted in the displacement happening in their forest communities and the non-recognition of their right to land and self-determination. For both communities, immediate health service, more importantly those specific to the needs of women and girls, are almost nonexistent.

In comparison to AI’s report, the situation in Asia and Africa gravely suffers more from lack of official and aggregated government data on the cases of sexual violence.

“We understand that this work is global. And the work we do here in the US is part of the global work of Indigenous Peoples fighting for their right and freedom to be freed from violence.” Tarah said rejoining the reactors’ inputs.

Ending the discussion, strong recommendations to rethink how states process and address issues of sexual violence were raised. Similarly, speakers made the call to take collective action with cross-sector and cross-country advocates to work for the rights of women and the rights of Indigenous Peoples.

 “The erosion of Indigenous traditional governance and justice system as land dis-possession and violence remains unaddressed, and sometimes even enabled by governments, proves the urgent need to struggle together. A safer future will not be handed to Indigenous women in silver platter, it’s something we will definitely need to fight for,” said Beverly Longid, International IPMSDL’s Global Coordinator.

“In Search of a Safer Future” webinar is part of IPMSDL’s Fight 4 Our Future campaign series probing on the articulation of what kind of future Indigenous Peoples aspire. It focuses on the four main theme of rights, lands, health, and environment. [IDN-InDepthNews – 01 October 2022]

*Romeo Jara is the Communications Officer of International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL). IPMSDL is a global movement of Indigenous Peoples communities, organizations and advocates with its global secretariat based in the Philippines.” It is an organization committed to advancing the rights of Indigenous Peoples to self-determination, land and life.

Image credit: International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination & Liberation (IPMSDL)

IDN is the flagship agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate.

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