Written submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its causes & consequences: IWGIA inputs to the Report on violence against Indigenous Women and Girls
Indigenous Peoples all over the world face systemic discrimination rooted in persistent racism as well as past and present colonialism. Many Indigenous communities have been forcefully relocated, lands have been taken away, forests have been destroyed, mountains have been mined and valleys have been dammed and flooded.
Children have been taken away to boarding schools, living and dying under terrible and destructive circumstances in the name of assimilation, or are forced into schools where none of their languages are spoken and none of their knowledge and values are taught and practiced. They are forced to live under governments that are not their own, in which they can hardly participate and on which they have no influence.
Being colonized and suppressed obviously results in a series of negative consequences including racism and systemic discrimination that also leads to much violence against Indigenous women. When the wider society view Indigenous Peoples as secondary citizens, the likelihood of violence with impunity happening against them increases – the countless murdered and missing Indigenous women in Canada or the countless unreported and unrecorded rape cases against Indigenous women by settlers, military, police, workers from outside, or tourists, are brutal examples of this.
Indeed, Indigenous women and girls are significantly more likely to be victims of different forms of sexual violence and more likely to experience rape than non-indigenous women and girls. This includes a higher exposure to various forms of sexual violence, trafficking and domestic violence. Violence against Indigenous women and girls also occurs in contexts such as during armed conflicts and militarization of their territories, during the implementation of development, investment and extractive projects, and while exercising the defence of their human rights. In some cases, this form of violence is politically motivated. For the most vulnerable women and youth, namely unmarried mothers, child-brides, orphans, widows, LGBTQ+ and women living with disabilities, the cycle of poverty disproportionately marginalizes them and is perpetuated from generation to generation, placing them at the bottom of society, where violence with impunity is even more pervasive.
With this written submission, IWGIA seeks to bring forward the perspectives and experiences of Indigenous Women and Girls and the 50+ years of IWGIA’s experience working in their support. The methodology used to collect the data, has been extracted from interviews with Indigenous Women from partner organizations, data from the Indigenous Navigator, NGO reports gathering Indigenous Women and Girls’ testimony, and international organizations reports.