Month: January, 2012

Rape Data for Indian Country Has Failed to Capture Complete Picture

Thursday, January 12, 2012
WASHINGTON—National crime statistics already indicate that 1 in 3 American Indian women will be raped in their lifetimes, but new clarification from the Obama administration on the definition of rapes that affect women, men, and children indicate that the daunting numbers may only be telling a sliver of the story.

President Barack Obama cited the statistic at the November 2009 White House Tribal Nationals Conference, stating, "When one in three Native American women will be raped in their lifetimes, that is an assault on our national conscience; it is an affront to our shared humanity; it is something that we cannot allow to continue."

The data, gathered by the U.S. Department of Justice, indicates that Native American women suffer from violent crime at a rate three and a half times greater than the national average.

Turns out, because these national numbers have been widely based on an old definition of rape—one that only involves physical forcible male penile penetration of a woman's vagina—the number of rapes involving Indians may actually be much higher.

That revelation was made clear January 6 when the Obama administration announced that the federal government would also begin counting rapes toward women that were done by an object or mouth on the vagina or anus without consent, and it would begin counting rapes of children and men as well. The new data will be collected for the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), published by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The new definition is more consistent with state laws and local crime reports, administration officials said.

Obama administration officials said the new measuring methods may lead to an increase in the number of counted rapes nationwide, including those in Indian country.

"This major policy change will lead to more accurate reporting and far more comprehensive understanding of this devastating crime," said Valerie Jarrett, a senior advisor to Obama, in a press conference call. She called the old data "incomplete," and said that "it has not captured the true impact of this crime."

Jarrett shared that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, under the old definition, currently reports that 1 in 5 women will be raped in their lifetimes, and 1 in 71 men. An estimated 84,767 rapes were reported in 2010 under the old definition.

Jarrett said that gathering more complete data will help the country to better deal with the problem.

"How we talk about rape and how we count it, makes a difference in how we view it," added Lynn Rosenthal, the first ever White House Advisor on Violence Against Women. "If we don't know the extent of a problem, it's difficult to find solutions to that problem."

Obama administration officials would not estimate how many more rapes are expected to be counted as a result of the change, but all were in agreement that the numbers would increase.

Meanwhile, even as the number of measured rapes in Indian country is expected to rise, Congress recently cut millions of dollars to programs that would aid Indian rape survivors.

Katy Jackman, a staff attorney with the National Congress of American Indians, noted that when Congress cut funding under the Tribal Law and Order Act (TLOA) by $90 million in November, it delivered a "serious tangential impact" to rape victims by limiting the attorney general's ability to prosecute rape in Indian country and by cutting funds to the tribal justice system, which will limits tribes' abilities to prosecute offenders.

Jackman also noted that despite the cuts, victim services offered to Indian rape survivors under the Violence Against Women Act have stayed intact, but Congress has not reauthorized that law since 2005. Advocates will be making a major push in 2012 for this to happen.

"The only thing that will prevent violence against Indian women is local control of law enforcement and prosecution," added Ryan Dreveskracht, a lawyer with the Indian-focused law firm Galanda Broadman. "Only local tribal officers and justice systems are capable of understanding and being accountable to victims of violence and their communities. The TLOA recognizes this by helping to provide local control of law enforcement, particularly as it relates to violence against women.

"Unfortunately, the current TLOA underfunding primarily affects these programs that are local in nature—programs that support the strengthening of local tribal justice programs and courts—while those programs that prop-up the federal control of reservation crime control and perpetuate the status quo have remained largely intact."

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In Memoriam - Ellen Pence

Monday, January 9, 2012
Ellen Pense has left this world for her walk home, it has been a honor to know her. She is a true Warrior Woman... Li li li li

UN Will Conduct Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women in Canada

Thursday, January 5, 2012
Ottawa, ON (December 13, 2011)
(Ottawa) The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination
against Women has decided to conduct an inquiry into the murders and
disappearances of Aboriginal women and girls across Canada.  The Committee,
composed of 23 independent experts from around the world, is the UN's main
authority on women's human rights.
The Committee's decision was announced today by Jeannette Corbiere Lavell,
President of the Native Women's Association of Canada (NWAC), and Sharon
McIvor of the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA).
The inquiry procedure is used to investigate what the Committee believes to
be very serious violations of theConvention on the Elimination of All Forms
of Discrimination against Women.  In January and in September 2011, faced
with the continuing failures of Canadian governments to take effective
action in connection with the murders and disappearances, FAFIA and NWAC
requested the Committee to launch an inquiry. Canada has signed on to the
treaty, known as the Optional Protocol to the Convention, which authorizes
the Committee to investigate allegations of "grave or systematic" violations
of the Convention by means of an inquiry. Now that the Committee has
formally initiated the inquiry, Canada will be expected to cooperate with
the Committee's investigation.
"FAFIA and NWAC requested this Inquiry because violence against Aboriginal
women and girls is a national tragedy that demands immediate and concerted
action," said Jeannette Corbiere Lavell.
"Aboriginal women in Canada experience rates of violence 3.5 times higher
than non-Aboriginal women, and young Aboriginal women are five times more
likely to die of violence. NWAC has documented the disappearances and
murders of over 600 Aboriginal women and girls in Canada over about twenty
years, and we believe that there may be many more. The response of law
enforcement and other government officials has been slow, often dismissive
of reports made by family members of missing women, uncoordinated and
generally inadequate."
"These murders and disappearances have their roots in systemic
discrimination and in the denial of basic economic and social rights"
said Sharon McIvor of FAFIA. "We believe that the CEDAW Committee can play a
vital role not only in securing justice for the women and girls who have
died or disappeared, but also in preventing future violations, by
identifying the action that Canadian governments must take to address the
root causes.  Canada has not lived up to its obligations under international
human rights law to prevent, investigate and remedy violence against
Aboriginal women and girls."
"The Committee carried out an inquiry into similar violations in Mexico five
years ago and we expect the process will follow the same lines here in
Canada," said McIvor.  "Mexico invited the Committee's representatives to
make an on-site visit and during the visit the representatives interviewed
victim's families, government officials at all levels, and NGOs.  The
Committee's report on the inquiry spelled out the steps that Mexico should
take regarding the individual cases and the systemic discrimination
underlying the violations. Mexican women's groups say that the Committee's
intervention helped to spur Government action and we hope to see the same
result here in Canada, said McIvor."
Tasha Caldwell
Intergovernmental Affairs Specialist
Chairman’s Office
Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin
P.O. Box 910
W2908 Tribal Office Loop Rd.
Keshena, WI 54135
Office 715.799.5114 ext. 1263
Fax 715.799.3373

Forensic Compliance Update: Where do we stand in 2012?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Forensic Compliance Update: Where do we stand in 2012?

Webinar offered on two separate dates

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

11:00am – 12:30pm PST / 2:00pm -- 3:30pm EST

Thursday, February 16th, 2012
11:00am – 12:30pm PST / 2:00pm -- 3:30pm EST

      Description of the webinar

      All states and territories must certify that they are in compliance with VAWA 2005 requirements for medical forensic examinations. Specifically, exams must be available to sexual assault victims: 1) free of charge, and 2) regardless of their decision to participate in the criminal justice process. Yet communities have faced considerable challenges in designing protocols that are compliant, in areas such as: the initial response to a sexual assault disclosure, payment for the medical forensic examination, mandatory reporting to law enforcement, storage and transportation of evidence, case tracking and retrieval, processing of evidence, and the potential for evidence-based prosecution (i.e., without the victim’s cooperation). For many states and territories, the changes that are required in public policy and daily practice have been described as “monumental.”

      Please Register Here:


      Kim Day, RN, FNE, SANE-A, SANE-P is the SAFE Technical Assistance Coordinator for the International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN)
      Kim Day has worked on many national level projects such as: the Prison Rape Elimination Act medical protocol advisory committee, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center's SANE Sustainability Project, the Southwest Center for Law and Policy's SAFESTAR medical advisory/curriculum creation committee and the advisory group for the Dartmouth Interactive Media Laboratory production of the interactive DVD: Sexual Assault, Forensic and Clinical Management. Ms. Day has worked with SAFEta project partners to develop and present a two-day regional training entitled: Creating a Community Protocol. She has also spoken at many national, state, and local conferences on the National SAFE Protocol, VAWA forensic compliance and the medical forensic examination.

      Joanne Archambault, Executive Director, End Violence Against Women International (EVAWI)
      Joanne Archambault (Sergeant, San Diego Police Department, Retired) is the Founder and Executive Director of EVAWI, as well as the President and Training Director of Sexual Assault Training & Investigations (SATI), Inc.  She serves as co-editor of the Sexual Assault Report and a member of CounterQuo, a national initiative that seeks to challenge and change media and legal responses to sexual violence. In April 2010, Ms. Archambault was honored by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder for her decades of tireless work on behalf of sexual assault victims, a prestigious National Crime Victims' Service Award for Allied Professionals. On October 27, 2010, Ms. Archambault was invited to meet with President Obama and Vice President Biden for the first assembly on violence against women to ever be held at the White House.  

      Archambault began her career working for the San Diego Police Department for almost 23 years, in a wide range of assignments.  She first worked as an officer in Patrol and then as a detective in Gangs, Child Abuse, and Crimes Against Persons.  As a sergeant, she had assignments in the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity and Sex Crimes.  During the last ten years of her service, Sgt. Archambault supervised the Sex Crimes Unit, which had 13 detectives and was responsible for investigating approximately 1,000 felony sexual assaults within the City of San Diego each year.  Over the course of her career, she has written numerous articles and developed a wide range of training and policy materials, as well as serving on national advisory boards.

      Kimberly A Lonsway, PhD, Director of Research, End Violence Against Women International (EVAWI)
      Dr. Kim Lonsway earned her Ph.D. in the Department of Psychology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 1996, then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the American Bar Foundation in Chicago.  After moving to California, Dr. Lonsway worked for the National Center for Women & Policing and Penny Harrington & Associates, as well as teaching as an adjunct professor at California Polytechnic State University.  In 2003, she joined EVAWI, where she develops training content and resource materials, and provides training and technical assistance for multidisciplinary audiences. Along with Sgt. Joanne Archambault (Retired), Dr. Lonsway serves as Co-Editor of the Sexual Assault Report, published by the Civic Research Institute.  She has also served as a volunteer victim advocate, first in Illinois and now in California for over 9 years.

      This webinar is presented as a collaborative presentation of the IAFN and EVAWI. The IAFN's SAFEta Project is a cooperative agreement between the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women and the International Association of Forensic Nurses (#2011-TA-AX-K021).EVAWI's Forensic Compliance Project is also a cooperative agreement between the Office on Violence Against Women and EVAWI (#2009-TA-AX-K003).

      The opinions, findings and information presented in the webinar represent the views of the author(s), not of the Department of Justice or the Office on Violence Against Women.

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