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SAVE Native Women Act
WASHINGTON - Approximately 70 percent of sexual assaults against American Indian women are not reported according to the estimates by the US Department of Justice.
This point was made by Suzanne Koepplinger during her testimony before the US Senate Committee on Indian Affairs last Thursday, as she made testified in support of Senate bill 1763, Stand Against Violence and Empower (SAVE) Native Women Act.
Koepplinger, executive director of the Minnesota Indian Women's Resource Center, testified about one of the programs her organization runs called Oskinigiikwe, which means young woman in the Ojibwe language.
Koepplinger testified concerning the Okinigiikwe program:
"Recent evaluation of this program for 11 - 20 year old Native girls shows 31 percent of girls had a head injury resulting from assault, nearly a quarter of girls had a mental illness diagnosis and were homeless upon intake. None of the girls had reported their assaults to law enforcement. Disclosure of assault histories - including sex trafficking - in our program typically comes after many months, when a trust relationship is developed with staff. There are routinely multiple traumas by the age of 16 including childhood sexual assault, dating violence, and sexual exploitation/trafficking."
If enacted, the Stand Against Violence and Empower (SAVE) Native Women Act would:
"Investing in the safety of women and children is an investment in the well being of our families and communities," Koepplinger continued in her testimony. "It is not only the right thing to do, it is the fiscally responsible thing to do to provide preventive and healing services to those in need. The trauma of unreported or untreated sexual violence leads to higher end user social services, multi-generational abuse, increased rates of homelessness, and other costs."
posted November 14, 2011 2:40 pm est
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