Apologies for the blog being relatively quiet lately—everyone is rushing around with summertime projects/vacations. A reminder though that for NYC-ers there are two opportunities to interact with SAFER off the internet this summer. Tonight we are holding our happy hour at the Village Pourhouse (3rd Ave and 11th Street) $5 at the door and open bar from 6 to 7. Then on August 3 we have our FREE teach-in for students who want to learn more about what SAFER does and how to get active on their campus. It will take place at the NARAL Pro-Choice NY Offices (470 Park Ave South, 7th floor) from noon to 2 p.m. Please RSVP to email@example.com.
At the Feministing Community and over at Amplify*** there is a really great post up about sexual violence against Native American women. The statistics are shocking and the stories are heartbreaking. What the post only touches on a little though (particularly by linking to this really enlightening NY Times editorial) is the incredibly complicated position of Native women within the American legal system, and their lack of legal options as survivors. As N. Bruce Duthu writes in the Times piece:
One in three American Indian women will be raped in their lifetimes, statistics gathered by the United States Department of Justice show. But the odds of the crimes against them ever being prosecuted are low, largely because of the complex jurisdictional rules that operate on Indian lands. Approximately 275 Indian tribes have their own court systems, but federal law forbids them to prosecute non-Indians. Cases involving non-Indian offenders must be referred to federal or state prosecutors, who often lack the time and resources to pursue them.
The situation is unfair to Indian victims of all crimes — burglary, arson, assault, etc. But the problem is greatest in the realm of sexual violence because rapes and other sexual assaults on American Indian women are overwhelmingly interracial. More than 80 percent of Indian victims identify their attacker as non-Indian. (Sexual violence against white and African-American women, in contrast, is primarily intraracial.) And American Indian women who live on tribal lands are more than twice as likely to be raped or sexually assaulted as other women in the United States, Justice Department statistics show.
Federal and state prosecutors have historically chosen not to prosecute these cases and have failed to obtain justice for Native women. Furthermore, asking a Native American woman (who not only has the knowledge that the state has not protected her friends and loved ones, but also knows that the state has a long—often violent—history of robbing her people of rights) to trust a state or federal prosecutor is almost absurdly unfair.
It’s an incredibly important issue that speaks really well to the failures of the criminal justice system, particularly on behalf of women of color or marginalized women, as well as an example of racialized sexual violence. I don’t know nearly enough about it to comment extensively, but for more information I highly recommend looking at the resources provided in the linked post and reading Sarah Deer’s essay “Federal Indian Law and Violent Crime” in the Incite! Anthology: The Color of Violence.
***I just discovered Amplify and it looks awesome. “Amplify is a youth-driven community dedicated to change society’s dysfunctional approach to sexual health issues.” Check them out!