Non-Indian Men Raping American Indian Women in Large Numbers

In “Failure to Protect”, the Summer 2007 issue of Amnesty International magazine reports that American Indian and Alaska Native women are 2.5 times more likely to suffer a rape or sexual assault than the general US female population. Moreover, “at least 86 percent of the men who commit sexual violence against Native Americans and Alaska Native women are non-Indian–the vast majority being white men–a marked contrast to sexual violence data on other ethnic groups showing that perpetrators gnerally belong to the same ethnic group as victims…

“…one in three Indigenous women will be raped in her lifetime…

“Among the general population, violence against women is underreported because of concen over breaches in confidentiality, fear of retaliation and a lack of confidence that reporting a crime will lead to justice.”

For Native women, an additional problem is a lack of police protection. “According to the US Department of Justice, tribes now operate with only 55 to 75 percent of the law enforcement resources available to comparable non-Native rural communities.”

Predators have discovered they can molest Native women with near impunity. “…[A]necdotal evidence suggests the vast majority [of cases of sexual violence against Native women] are not prosecuted… [A]t all stages and levels of federal and state courts, Indigenous survivors of sexual violence face prejudice and discrimination that influence decisions about whether to prosecute cases, how prosecutors present survivors during trials, how juries are selected and how they formulate decisions.”

Says Andrea Smith, assistant professor at the University of Michigan and an expert on domestic violence against women of color, “Non-Native perpetrators often seek out a reservation place because they know they can inflict violence without much happening to them.”

See Amnesty’s detailed report on this issue and action steps here.

See also:

Jensen: When Examining Complex Social Phenomena, Scientific Method Has
Limits; Listen to the Stories of the Victims (explicit language)

Ms. X, a Native American woman, described how she was raped by two
white men who made reference to a pornographic video game called
“Custer’s Revenge” in which a white Army officer scores points by
raping Indian women:

They held me down and as one was running the tip of his knife across my
face and throat he said, “Do you want to play Custer’s Last Stand? It’s
great. You lose but you don’t care, do you? You like a little pain,
don’t you, squaw?… The only good Indian is a dead Indian… A squaw
out alone deserves to be raped.”

Hustler cartoon:
A man drags a trussed-up Asian woman down the middle of a highway to paint two yellow lines.

Male Attitudes about Rape Can Be Learned…and Unlearned
The subjects’ evaluations of a rape victim after viewing a reenacted
rape trial were also affected by the constant exposure to brutality
against women. The victim of rape was rated as more worthless and her
injury as significantly less severe by those exposed to filmed violence
when compared to a control group of men who saw only the rape trial and
did not view films. Desensitization to filmed violence on the last day
was also significantly correlated with assignment of greater blame to
the victim for her own rape…

There is now, however, some evidence that these negative changes in
attitudes and perceptions regarding rape and violence against women not
only can be eliminated but can be positively changed. Malamuth and
Check (1983) found that if male subjects who had participated in such
an experiment were later administered a carefully constructed
debriefing, they actually would be less accepting of certain rape myths
than were control subjects exposed to depictions of intercourse
(without a debriefing)… These debriefings consisted of (1) cautioning
subjects that the portrayal of the rape they had been exposed to is
completely fictitious in nature, (2) educating subjects about the
violent nature of rape, (3) pointing out to subjects that rape is
illegal and punishable by imprisonment, and (4) dispelling the many
rape myths that are perpetrated in the portrayal (e.g., in the majority
of rapes, the victim is promiscuous or has a bad reputation, or that
many women have an unconscious desire to be raped).