The Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center has recently done a study about the sexual trafficking of Native American women and girls, and the Circle News published an article about it earlier this month* (h/t Racialicious). Some of the descriptions of violence in the article are extremely triggering.
We already know that Native American women and girls are at a hugely disproportionate risk of rape compared to all other racial groups. They are more than 2.5 times as likely to be raped as the general U.S. female population — and considering the general rates of rape in the U.S., that’s truly terrifying. So, it should come as no real surprise to us that sexual violence is also taking the form of women and girls being forced or coerced into prostitution. It should go without saying that, since with force and/or coercion there is no consent, sexual trafficking is rape, and due to its repeated nature, it’s also one of the most heinous kinds.
There are many reasons why this type of sexual violence is committed so prevalently against Native women. They range from those issues faced by virtually all communities, like the culture of silence surrounding sexual violence, to those faced by many marginalized groups, such as widespread poverty, to those specific to Native American communities, like the legacy of colonization and horrific sexual violence committed by white men against Native women both historically and presently.
I have little else to add to the discussion myself, but I do think it’s important to draw greater attention to the issue. This report specifically focuses on Minnesota, but I highly doubt that it is a problem isolated to that state alone. Rather, I imagine that it’s being lived and grappled with in communities across the country.
*Some readers will find some of the language used in the article to be problematic (I do). But while I understand, recognize, and respect that the conflation of sex work and sex trafficking can be very frustrating and damaging, I think it’s important to focus on the fact that in this instance, we are talking about very marginalized and vulnerable women and girls who are being trafficked, and to center them and their experiences in this particular post’s comments.
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