|Lisa Frank, Gwich’in, finds strength from her Native culture to speak up for women who have been the victims of sexual assault and domestic abuse in Alaska.|
The Safe Women, Strong Nations project works to end violence against Native women and to strengthen the ability of Indian nations to address the alarming rates of violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women and girls in the United States. One in three Native women will be raped in her lifetime, and three in five will be physically assaulted. On some reservations, their murder rate is 10 times the national average.
These disproportionately high rates of violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women are largely due to a discriminatory legal system that severely limits the ability of Indian nations to protect Native women and girls from violence and fails to provide them with meaningful remedies, access to justice, and effective law enforcement. The Safe Women, Strong Nations project is currently looking into the situation in Alaska, where Native women endure some of the highest rates of sexual assault and domestic violence in the nation. One in two Alaska Native women will experience sexual or physical violence in her lifetime.
The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, known as VAWA 2013, restored important aspects of tribal sovereignty and improved safety for Native women throughout the lower 48 states. Unfortunately, VAWA 2013 also included Section 910, known as the Special Rule for the State of Alaska, which excludes all but one of Alaska’s 229 tribes from two critical amendments: Section 904 that restores special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction to tribes and Section 905 that clarifies tribal court jurisdiction to issue civil protection orders. A sustained groundswell of opposition to the Special Rule finally led to its repeal in late December 2014. The Center is examining the impact of this development in Alaska as well as a number of other remaining barriers to safety for all Native women.