By Lee and Moawad
Saturday, July 28, 2007
The U.S. House of Representatives authorized $1 million in funding to combat sexual crimes against American Indian and Alaska Native women, in a 412-18 vote on a budget amendment, the Inter Press Service reported July 26. The funding will create a tribal sex offender and protection order registry to identify offenders. Another $1 million was earmarked for a baseline study on violence against Native women.
The measure follows an April report by London-based Amnesty International on high rates of sexual crimes committed against Native women, with a large portion committed by non-Native men. An Indian woman is at least two and a half times more likely than other U.S. women to be raped.
"Violence against Indian women is a national crisis. We applaud the congressmen that stepped to the podium on behalf of Indian women," said Karen Artichoker, director of Sacred Circle National Resource Center to End Violence Against Indian Women in South Dakota. (Artichoker is a Women's eNews 21 Leader 2006 for her anti-violence work.)
Rapes against women on Indian reservations around the nation routinely go unreported and uninvestigated, National Public Radio reported July 25. This is partly due to the overlapping jurisdictions of tribal police, federal and state agencies. The Bush administration has authorized $16 million in funding to add 50 new police officers on reservations that are stretched thin. The House also approved $430 million to fund programs under the Violence Against Women Act, including $6 million to assist children exposed to sexual or domestic violence and $6 million to help teens. Both those earmarks devote 10 percent of the funds to tribal programs.
The Economist Intelligence Unit released the Global Peace Index--the first study to rank countries according to their level of peacefulness--on May 30, but failed to measure the level of violence against women and children in their calculations, reported the Christian Science Monitor July 26. The exclusion meant that such human rights violations as female genital mutilation, honor killings, female infanticide, domestic violence, sexual abuse and systematic medical neglect of girls were disregarded.
Instead, the index is based on 24 indicators--measuring ongoing domestic and international conflict, militarization, and safety and security in countries--such as the number of wars fought, level of respect for human rights, the size of the jailed population, level of violent crime, number of armed services personnel and ease of access to weapons. Of the 121 countries studied, the United States ranked 96th while Libya, Cuba and China all received better scores. Chile was ranked 16th.
According to the Global Peace Index Web site, the study has been endorsed by individuals and groups such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, President Jimmy Carter and Amnesty International "as a groundbreaking piece of research that demonstrates the urgent need to study peace." The Economist Intelligence Unit is a research firm affiliated with the British newsmagazine, the Economist.
Jacqueline Lee is a Los Angeles-based reporter interning with Women's eNews and Nouhad Moawad is managing editor of Arabic Women's eNews.
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NPR, "Rape Cases on Indian Lands Go Uninvestigated":
Global Peace Index:
Amnesty International, "Zimbabwe: Between a Rock and a Hard Place":
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