Source: Native News Online
Violence against indigenous women is a problem that has plagued the United States for all of its history. Most indigenous women report some type of violence in their lifetime. This incudes sexual violence, intimate partner violence, psychological violence, etc. Historically, women in these communities have not received the utmost level of protection, as should be.
Indigenous women experience extremely high rates of violence disproportionate to the rest of the nation. Most of this violence against native women is reported to be committed by non-natives. For this reason, many of these incidents go unprosecuted.
In 1978, the Supreme Court made a decision that tribes do not have the authority to prosecute non-tribal members. Therefore, cases of violence that occur against members of the tribal nation under tribal jurisdiction are to be taken to the federal level, yet the federal government does not select nearly enough of these cases. Many people cite this law as the reason that most victims of violence against indigenous women never see justice for themselves. In addition to living victims, many believe that this law is the reason for the incredibly large number of missing and murdered indigenous women.
However, under the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA), tribes can have jurisdiction over non-tribal members in cases of domestic or dating violence. This is called the Special Domestic Violence Criminal Jurisdiction, and it goes into effect if the victim is a native and the perpetrator is non-native, but has “sufficient ties to the Indian tribe,” “sufficient ties” including being the spouse or dating partner of a tribal member. Even still, this provision allows tribes to prosecute perpetrators, but does not ensure that prosecution will come.
In addition to those living on the reservation, indigenous women living in other communities are at risk as well. Living off the reservation can cause different problems, including poverty, homelessness, and racial bias. Murder is the third leading cause of death of indigenous women, and 4 in 5 indigenous women report some type of violence in their life. Indigenous women are at risk no matter where they go.
The system has continuously failed indigenous women for decades. Greater legal protection must be sought to provide support, protection and justice to one of our nation’s most vulnerable populations.



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