During the UPR process, each member country must submit a report to the UN Human Rights Council detailing how it is meeting its human rights’ obligations to its citizens. In preparation of its report, the U.S. State Department requested comments from Non-governmental Organizations and Indian nations. The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and the Indian Law Resource Center both submitted comments to the State Department focusing on the horrible problem of violence against Native women in Indian country. The statistics are staggering: one in three Native women will be raped in her lifetime; four in five women will be violently assaulted; and six in ten experience domestic abuse. Sadly, the majority of these women never see their abusers or rapists brought to justice. The complex jurisdictional scheme in Indian country leaves Native women without effective judicial recourse against their perpetrators.
NCAI and the Indian Law Resource Center both met with State Department officials to educate them about violence against Native women and encourage them to include the issue in their state report to the Human Rights Council.
Although there were numerous other NGOs and Indian nations that submitted comments to the State Department, there were no other submissions that specifically addressed gender issues or violence against women. Nonetheless, based on the advocacy of NCAI and the Center, the State Department specifically mentioned the problem of violence against Native women in its Report, stating that “Addressing crimes involving violence against women and children on tribal lands is a priority” of this Administration.
We are very encouraged by the State Department’s inclusion of this issue in its Report. We are hopeful that the UN Human Rights Council will prioritize this issue in its review of the United States, thereby increasing the international pressure on the U.S. to respond to this crisis.
For more information about the Center's work to protect the rights of Native women in the United States and through international law, visit our Safe Women, Strong Nation web page www.indianlaw.org/safewomen.