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Human Rights of Women: Violence Against Indigenous Women
June 16, 2016

Human Rights of Women: Indigenous Women
as delivered

Human Rights Council Session 32,
June 16, 2016

Thank you, Mr. President.

The United States is grateful for the opportunity to address the vitally important issue of violence against indigenous women and girls.  Last month, the National Institute of Justice released a report that documents how indigenous women in the United States face disproportionate levels of sexual and physical violence.  The study found that a staggering 84 percent of American Indian and Alaska Native women have experienced some form of violence, while 56 percent experienced sexual violence.  Most survivors have been victimized by non-Indigenous perpetrators. 

The U.S. Government is taking affirmative steps to address this persistent problem, partnering with indigenous communities as well as tribal, state and local governments to find solutions.  Just two days ago, the White House hosted a “United State of Women Summit” which included a focus area on empowering American Indian and Alaska Native women and girls. Participants discussed measures to address domestic and dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

This compliments the ongoing efforts to promote access to protection measures and services, and ensure accountability for perpetrators of violence and access to an effective remedy for survivors. One previous obstacle to effective accountability was the lack of criminal jurisdiction over non-Native perpetrators committing gender-based violent crimes in Indian Country.  In 2013, President Obama signed the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act which closed jurisdictional gaps by recognizing tribes’ inherent jurisdictional authority to prosecute non-Indian offenders in tribal courts. 

Agencies across the U.S. government are presently working with tribes to implement this new basis for accountability. 

We recognize the importance of taking real and tangible steps to address the high levels of violence against indigenous women and girls.  We look forward to continuing our work with other countries so that together we can work to eradicate the worldwide scourge of violence against indigenous women and girls.

Thank you.