Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Briefs. Discussion »
Prostitution and Trafficking
Native Brief: SAINT PAUL, MINNESOTA - The "Garden of Truth: The Prostitution and Trafficking of Native Women in Minnesota" report released this afternoon is the excellent research work of the Minnesota Indian Women's Sexual Assault Coalition and Prostitution Research & Education.
The report was released at a press conference at the William Mitchell College of Law in Saint Paul. US Senator Al Franken, D - Minnesota, commented to Native News Network Thursday morning. Senator Franken is a member of US Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.
"One-in-three American Indian women is raped or sexually assaulted in her lifetime.
Forty percent of American Indian women experience domestic violence.
And nearly one-in-five American Indian women is a victim of stalking.
These startling statistics underscore that the state of affairs is simply not acceptable,"
Stated Senator Franken.
"The Violence Against Women Act is up for reauthorization this year. And as a member of the Judiciary Committee and the Indian Affairs Committee, I am committed to making sure we update the law to more effectively address the needs of women in Indian Country." The Senator continued.
The "Garden of Truth: The Prostitution and Trafficking of Native Women in Minnesota" report is the first comprehensive study to detail the personal experiences of 105 Native women who have been prostituted and trafficked in the state, as well as the specific resources and support they need to escape prostitution and trafficking.
The report follows on earlier studies by Amnesty International and the US Justice Department which found that Native women experience the highest rates of sexual assault in the United States.
"Native women are at exceptionally high risk for poverty and sexual violence, which are both elements in the trafficking of women," says report co-author Nicole Matthews, Executive Director of the Minnesota Indian Women's Sexual Assault Coalition. "The specific needs of Native women are not being met. Our goal was to assess the life circumstances of Native women in prostitution in Minnesota, a group of women not previously studied in research such as this."
The report draws on both quantitative and qualitative surveys, with researchers spending approximately 1.5 hours with each woman interviewed and administering four questionnaires that asked about family history, experiences of sexual and physical violence, homelessness, symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and dissociation, and their use of available services such as domestic violence shelters, homeless shelters, rape crisis centers, and substance abuse treatment. Researchers also asked about the extent to which women connected with their Native cultures and their personal experiences of racism.
Many of the women surveyed said they owed their survival to Native cultural practices, and most wanted access to Native healing approaches integrated with a range of mainstream services. Their most frequently stated needs were for housing, individual counseling, and job resources.
“In order for a woman to have the real choice to exit prostitution, a range of services must be offered,”
says Nicole Matthews. "However, there are very few services especially designed for Native women in prostitution."
The report calls for increased state and federal funding for transitional and long-term housing for Native women and others seeking to escape prostitution, along with funding for Native women's programs, including physical and mental health care, job training and placement, and legal services. It also urges state, local, and tribal officials to reexamine policies toward victims of prostitution and trafficking - for example, arresting and prosecuting sex buyers rather than victims of prostitution.
posted October 27, 2011 3:01 pm edt
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