Breaking the Silence on Violence against Indigenous Girls, Adolescents and Young Women

Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues logoBased on available country data, Say No UNiTE reports that, “up to 70 per cent of women experience physical or sexual violence from men in their lifetime – the majority by husbands, intimate partners or someone they know.”

I was surprised to hear there is such violence against indigenous girls, adolescents and young women as well because different indigenous peoples speaking as a previous side event at the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues called Indigenous Peoples and Freedom of Religion stated that women in particular were valued in their culture. I assumed somehow that indigenous women were more valued in these communities because there are seen as the nurturer in the family and have a strong impact on the upbringing of children but that is far from truth.

A common theme in the side events that I have attended is to note the lack of representation for indigenous peoples in governments. This leads to increased vulnerability and the people made most vulnerable in this situation are women and children. Indigenous women are denied a right to proper education when involving maternal health, preventative services and have a higher likely hood of being trafficked into sex trafficking or forced into domestic labor. Although a report presented by UNICEF has been published, there is still a lack of information on the life of indigenous women. Bruce Campbell, part of the panel for Breaking the Silence on Violence against Indigenous Girls, Adolescents and Young Women stated that this population needs to be represented more through research, surveys and census.

More attention needs to be brought to issues specifically because as Christians we see God’s image in each person and we are to give to others. Not just through money but through our time and talents. Our time can be bringing these issues to light and our talents can help others aid themselves. As said in Philippians 2:4, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Through speech, we must find a way to implement solutions to issues of violence that affects indigenous women but women globally.

While issues are being researched, there is still no clear plan for how to implement these ideals for Indigenous women. There were talks of relating indigenous women’s issues to the post 2015 development goals so progress can be made but no definite solutions have been identified. The struggle continues.

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