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Maze of Injustice: The Failure to Protect Indigenous Women from Sexual Violence in the USA

NCJ Number
Date Published
112 pages
Amnesty International reports on its investigation of the plight of Native-American and Alaska Native women survivors of sexual violence as they attempt to access justice and services.
The investigation found that the Federal Government is failing to fulfill its obligations to these women under international law. It has increasingly eroded tribal government authority and chronically underfunded tribal law enforcement agencies and service providers that should protect Indigenous women from sexual violence and respond appropriately when they have suffered such violence. Amnesty International's interviews with sexual assault survivors, activists, and support workers across the United States suggest that existing statistics greatly underestimate the severity of the problem and fail to provide an accurate picture of the abuses. The investigation also found instances in which complicated jurisdictional issues significantly delayed the investigation and prosecution of crimes of sexual violence on Indian lands. The Federal Government has created a complex maze of tribal, State, and Federal law that has the effect of allowing perpetrators to evade prosecution due to uncertainty about which authority has jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute the crime, particularly when non-Indian offenders commit crimes on tribal land. Further, underfunding of tribal police has resulted in inadequate and inappropriate police responses to sexual offenses, and victim forensic examinations are inadequate, partly due to the underfunding of the Indian Health Service. There is some hope for change, however. In 2005, the U.S. Congress reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act, which for the first time included a Tribal Title (Title IX) intended to improve safety and justice for Native-American and Alaska Native women. Seven recommendations are offered. 126 notes