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Does Being Indigenous and Female Increase Your Risk Of Violence?

May 23rd 2008 04:20
I got this message from an online group I am part of on Facebook, and I thought I'd share its insightful contents with you:

Violence Against Indigenous Women

The likelihood that a woman will be targeted for violence—and the forms that violence takes—are shaped not only by gender (the social roles that men and women play) but also by one's race, class, caste, religion, sexual orientation, geographic situation, ethnicity, and other identities.

For Indigenous women, violence occurs in a context of ongoing rights violations against their communities as a whole. Indigenous Peoples have survived the systematic expropriation and exploitation of their ancestral lands, which are the source of their cultures, identities, and wealth. This attack has left Indigenous communities among the poorest and most marginalized in the world and has contributed to violence against Indigenous women in several ways:

- Gender-based violence was a main weapon in colonial conquests of Indigenous lands. Indigenous women were targeted for rape as a weapon of war in Guatemala during the 1980s. Since the 1990s, Indigenous women in Chiapas, Mexico have been subjected to sexual harassment, rape, forced prostitution, and compulsory servitude in paramilitary camps. In Kenya, the legacy of British colonialism continues to produce violence against Indigenous women. As recently as the 1980s and 1990s, at least 1400 Indigenous Samburu women were raped by British soldiers stationed on their lands.

- In communities worldwide, gender-based violence increases when men are threatened by poverty, discrimination, displacement, cultural disintegration, and other crises that have disproportionately affected Indigenous Peoples.

- Many Indigenous traditions include an egalitarian understanding of gender relations that have helped combat violence against women. However, these traditions have been eroded by colonization, Christianity, and capitalism, while power disparities between men and women—the root cause of violence against women—have been reinforced. Today, most Indigenous women have lower rates of literacy, health, education, and employment than Indigenous men. As in non-Indigenous communities, there is a close correlation between women's economic dependence on men and physical abuse.

- Indigenous women are effectively denied access to most public services—including education, medical care, police protection, telephone service, and transportation—that could prevent or redress violence. In fact, public services are themselves a site of violence against Indigenous women. In numerous Latin American countries, Indigenous women seeking professional healthcare have been forcibly sterilized. Many rural Indigenous women do not speak Spanish—the language of public education, mass media, and the courts. Even programs to combat violence against women usually do not include segments designed by Indigenous women and therefore do not adequately address the problem as it affects them.

Indigenous women know that combating violence within their communities is linked to ensuring the collective rights of those communities, such as sovereignty and self-determination. Strategies to end violence against Indigenous women must therefore work to defend both Indigenous women's rights within their communities and the rights of their Peoples as a whole.

Taken from: Really Long Link

Links (with no particular emphasis):

Violence & Abuse Against Indigenous Women & Children:
Really Long Link

Indigenous women overcome multiple obstacles (Bangladesh):
Really Long Link

Zapatista Women – Rights and roles of women in Chiapas, Mexico (chapter on living conditions if you scroll):
Really Long Link

Indigenous Issues in Chiapas:
Really Long Link

UNESCO Microfinance and Literacy Program for indigenous Chiapas women:
Really Long Link

A Sweatshop Story from Chiapas, Mexico:
Really Long Link

Gender Violence in Guatemala:
Really Long Link

Violence Against Women in Guatemala:
Really Long Link

Really Long Link

Womens rights in Kenya (or lack thereof):
Really Long Link

Some publications by Patricia Kameri-Mbote (a lot about gender and violence against women/women’s rights in Kenya):
Really Long Link

FIDA Kenya (The Federation of Women Lawyers Kenya - A non-profit, non-partisan and nongovernmental membership organization, committed to the creation of a society that is free of all forms of discrimination against women through provision of legal aid, women's rights monitoring, advocacy, education and referral):
Really Long Link

Attitudes To Women In India:
Really Long Link

Rape of Indian Women by Police:
Really Long Link

USA: Authorities Fail To Protect Indigenous Women From Shocking Rates of Rape:
Really Long Link

Really Long Link


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3 Comments. [ Add A Comment ]

Comment by Mountain Fog

May 23rd 2008 05:21
The legacy of the caucasion expansion across the globe is a sorry and woeful one.

There is still so much more to do, obviously at home here, in regards to assisting the indigenous population, particularly those that live inland.

However, compared to many other countries, we have at least started a proper redress to the iniquities undeservedly visited upon the original owners of this ancient land, our country.

One thing always worried me however, that Hawke started the $1.2 billion dollar per year funding for the Aboriginal community in general, for housing etc, and that continued until Howard stopped it, early in his tenure as PM.

I have travelled fairly extensively throughout Australia, and for the life of me, I didn't see where all those billions of dollars went to!!

There are not a lot of Aboriginals left, thanks to the first settlers, the English, their descendants and the continuing migration from Britain, all hell bent on expanding their areas of influence, with the elimination of and wholesale marginalising of the Aboriginal people in the process, continuing even into the 1960's, in some outback areas beyond that time too, until the WHitlam Government began to redress the problems.

So where did all that Hawke/Keating money go?

Whenever I question this, in front of others when discussing politics and the like, no one has an answer, save for suggesting crooked Aboriginals stole the money!

That is patently ridiculous, of course, as we are speaking of BILLIONS here. A few people got caught with their hand in the 'bickie tin', buying a house for themselves and a car for rellies or whatever, but not much money was embezzled at all frankly, considering the amount of money allocated over the years.

No one has any idea where all that money went.

One wonders whether the initial set up by Hawke, to allow the funding to go totally unaccounted for (allegedly) may have been a ruse for certain government elements to funnel the funds elsewhere, pretending that it was going to the Aboriginal community?

Or did all the companies and trades people associated with the development of the communitites over charge for everything?

Very curious indeed.



Comment by RubySoho

May 23rd 2008 14:37
Great post PoMo. It is shocking how badly women are still being mistreated. Have we really come as far as we think we have?

Comment by Anonymous

June 19th 2008 07:44
There is no doubt that indigenous women are at terrible risk of violence of all types, and this is often the reason why so many of them are incarcerated in our gaols. However I don't agree that colonialism is the only reason for this. There is evidence that aboriginal society has always treated it's women badly. The following article has some excellent points in regard to this:
Really Long Link
Also see: The Original Australians: Story of the Aboriginal People By Josephine Flood.
The information came from men who were unlikely to be of a feminist persuasion - if even the First Fleet men were aghast at the treatment by Aboriginal men of their women it must have been bad!! It is important to bear in mind the fact that not all aspects of indigenous culture are good (as is the case with any culture). We should beware the trap of the imagining that the world was a perfect place before the terrible white colonialist entered it

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