Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Violence against Native American Women

Frequency of violence against Native American women The women from the Native American group experience the highest rate of violence as compared to all the other groups in the United States. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (2004), the Native American women suffer from violent crime at a rate of 3 ½ times higher than that of the other groups in the country. This number can even be higher due to the fact that some of the violence is never reported due to fear of retaliation and the historical relationship between the Native American women and the agencies of government. Moreover, one third of the Native American women have experienced some form of sexual assault and domestic abuse during their life time as compared to one fifth which is the average in America (Bachman, Zaykowski, Kallmyer, Poteyeva and Lanier, 2008). Offenders in the violence Majority of the offenders in the violence against Native American women are more likely to be somebody who is a stranger to them. This is in sharp contrast to the violence against the other women in America who are mostly carried out by family members, intimate partners or even their acquaintances. Out of all the violence, especially sexual assault and rape, that the Native American women were involved in, 25 per cent were carried out by members of their families or their intimate partners while 35 per cent was carried out by the people whom the victims were acquainted with. The statistics concerning the Indian Native American women is even more worrying as over 80 per cent of their attackers were non-Indians (Bachman, Zaykowski, Kallmyer, Poteyeva and Lanier, 2008). The victims in the violence The typical victims are mostly the Alaskan and the Indian native women as the violence against these two groups of women exceeds that of all the other groups of women in the country. Research has shown that 34 per cent of the Indian and Alaska native women will be victims of rape in their lifetimes while 39 per cent will at one time of their lives be faced with domestic violence. The women from the Indian Native American communities also face a very high rat of violent victimization, twice s high as those of other women in America. There was a very high victimization of the Native American women by the offenders of the violence against the women, 88 per cent. This victimization was majorly carried out by the African Americans or the whites (Bachman, Zaykowski, Kallmyer, Poteyeva and Lanier, 2008). Situational context of the violence The violence against Native American women is mostly carried out due to their high levels of poverty and the structure of the families where they come from. In most cases, these women are poor and thus live in dwellings or neighborhoods which highly expose them to the offenders. The family structure mostly the female headed household also encourages violent victimization of the Native American women especially considering the fact that the proportion of this type of family structure is very prevalent. The locations where the violent victimization of the women is more likely to occur is in the commercial places, packing areas , the homes of the women and even on deserted streets. The use of drugs alcoholic substances also greatly contribute to the victimization of the women as over 67 pr cent of the women from the native American communities who have been victims of violence mostly raped reported that their tormentors were under the influence of alcohol and other substances. The time of the attack also greatly contribute to the gravity of the outcome for instance when the women are attacked at night it is more likely that the violence for instance rape or sexual assault will be completed (Crowell and Burgess, 1996). Causes of the violence against Native American women The theories about the violence against women are mostly drawn from the field of aggression which suggests that violence against women mostly arises from the varied interactions between an individual’s psychosocial, biological and social conditions. The theory of crime causation that will be used to analyze the causes of violent crime among the Native American women is the sociological theory of crime causation which states that violent behavior is caused by the environment of the person as well as the varied relationship that exist between them (Crowell and Burgess, 1996). The first cause of violence against women is the individual determinant for instance the process of evolution which has greatly contributed to the conception of the individuals. Women have been more inclined to have one partner, for the purpose of raising children as they are only able to conceive from one man. The males on the other hand have since time immemorial been more inclined to have more than one wife so that they could increase their chance to raise children. The men are therefore more willing to be non-committed in their relationship with the women and are thus inclined to engage in impersonal sex with any woman to satisfy the long urge of having multiple sex partners. This explanation, is however not restricted to the Native American women, as the men can engage in sex with omen from any background to satisfy the optimum strategy where men are supposed to mate with as many women as possible. Due to the societal conditions, men cannot get enough partners to satisfy this urge thus may resort to violence against the women in form of rape or sexual coercion. Also, intimate partner violence (IPV) also arises from the fact that the men want to continuously be assured that the offspring’s are theirs; any threat to this will be meted with violence against the women (Crowell and Burgess, 1996). Secondly, the usage of alcohol and other drugs has greatly contributed to the development to violent behavior against Native American women. Out of all the reported cases of violence against this group of women, between 25 per cent and 85 per cent of battery of women are caused by alcohol. Also, about 75 per cent of acquaintance rape are caused by alcohol and drug use among the men. Alcohol has been noted to interfere with the social cognition processes of the person and thus men under the influence of drugs and alcohol are likely to misperceive some neutral cues as indications of the woman’ sexual interest in him. In other cases, the misconception can lead to misinterpretation of the cue to indicate that the woman is unwilling to engage in sex with them. The first instance will lead to rape or sexual assault assault, while the latter instance would lead to physical violence for instance battery (Crowell and Burgess, 1996). Violence especially sexual violence against women can also be caused by the gender schemas and the attitudes of the society regarding the women. These include the entitlements of the males in the society, the different roles of the genders, and the socio-cultural myths about the genders. The above shape the people interpretation of the ongoing activities and thus can work to foster the development of violence against the women especially if this interpretation is by the law enforcement officers, the citizens of America or even the judges and the attorneys. When this supportive schema has been developed, the various violent behaviors among the women will act to enforce their behavior (Crowell and Burgess, 1996). The beliefs and myth about violent acts against women will thus act as the rationale for the offenders. An example is an instance where the violent offenders rationalize that their victims deserved the violence. The societal sanctions about the rights and the privileges of the men, for instance to demand sex from their wives has also contributed immensely to the development of violence against women. Another societal contributor of physical violence and battery is the notion that the men are the family disciplinarians and thus they will reign in on their wives when their behavior becomes ‘unacceptable’ (Scully, 1990). Finally, the violence against women is also driven by power motives of the offenders, especially in their quest to dominate the women. The min mostly use the violence as an avenue through which they can maintain their superiority over the women. This especially leads to IPV where in some cases the man feels powerless and thus has to assert their authority. The men in most of this instance will feel more satisfied when they rape their partners than when they engage in conventional sex (Scully, 1990). Prevention of violence against Native American women The violence against the Native American women can be prevented especially if the authorities become more serious in dealing with the problem. The enactment of laws has been one sure way through which the violence against women can be prevented. To begin with, a law was passed in 1994 under the Congress sitting, which sought to create new penalties for the offenders of the violence against women. The act was referred to as the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which was reauthorized again in 2006 by President G. W. Bush. This new law encouraged the tribal communities, especially the recognition of the native communities as sovereign governments which could significantly pass penalties on the offenders against the rights of women. The Act also had provisions for the trans-jurisdiction enforcement and recognition of the protection orders for the victims of the crimes (Bachman, Zaykowski, Kallmyer, Poteyeva and Lanier, 2008). Protection orders have also been issued by the tribes where the Native American women come from. These orders are meant to protect women from being exposed to domestic violence by their husbands or the people they are intimated with. These orders prevent the escalation of the violence as they are enforceable under the American laws. In case of potential threat to the women, a permanent protection order can be issued by the tribal authorities so that the safety of the women can be ensured at all times (Heimer, 2008). The offenders of the violent acts are also reclaimed through the authority of the tribal jurisdiction especially due to the consideration that all the members of the community are relatives and thus thy do not want to give up on any member of their community. So in order to balance the interest of the society with that of the victim, the tribal judges commit their offender to some programs which would ensure that they completely become safe to the society. However, under these programs, it can be proven that the offenders cannot be reclaimed and thus must be subjected to the full force of the law especially regarding how violent offenders are treated under the tribal laws (Heimer, 2008). The offenders of violence against women should be held accountable for any violent conduct which they may commit against the Native American women. When this is done, violent offending will greatly be reduced or prevented in most cases, due to the rationality of the offenders which will inform them of the potential costs they will incur when they are convicted with the crime of violence against the women. The costs may include periods of incarceration and thus also failure to carry out their daily livelihood activities (Heimer, 2008) The attitudes and societal viewing of the women position should be changed especially in patriarchal societies such as the Native American societies where men are considered as far much superior to the women. To prevent the violence, there should be a change of the perception of the violent offenders, towards that which views the women as equal partners to their men. Also to further prevent violent offending, laws should be reenacted so that offenders can be discouraged from the violence, especially in the cases where offenders committed crimes in the tribal regions and thereafter flee to areas outside the tribal region. The laws should be enacted so that state law enforcement officers can be cross-deputized to the tribal lands so that if somebody commits a violent act in the tribal jurisdiction and flee to state jurisdiction, they can be delivered to the tribe. This will greatly work to prevent violence against women in native lands (Weaver, 2009). To prevent violent victimization, the native women need to be given basic education regarding ways through which they can deal with violence against them especially in the cases of rape, domestic violence and even sexual assault. When the women receive the education, they will be more enlightened about their rights and the varied legal positions they can seek when they become victims of violence in their communities. The women, who are victims of violence, may be provided with basic education about how they can defend themselves in cases of such attack. This self-defense tactic should no be used to incriminate the women, by labeling them the offenders (Heimer, 2008). Moreover, to prevent repeat violent victimization of the women, the Native women should be allowed to be in control of their situation, especially when the laws enforcers and the tribal judges allow the woman to make important decisions which are aimed at keeping both herself and her children, if any, safe. The decisions should thus be honored and respected by the practitioners, for instance their right to determine whether the person should be prosecuted or not for their own safety (Bachman, Zaykowski, Kallmyer, Poteyeva and Lanier, 2008). Control strategies Response of the police The response of the police on issues regarding violence against Native American women has not contributed towards the prevention of the vice. Police response has been negative especially concerning IPV where they often just separate the two partners without filing the report concerning that violence. Moreover, the police never trust women who have been incarcerated before terming them unreliable and unworthy of protection. In most cases, instead of the police arresting the violent offender, they instead arrest the violence victim. This action of the police has largely been shaped by the societal norms which require that women conform to gendered roles and acceptable behavior. When the omen, do not conform to this model woman, cases of violence against them are never taken seriously be the police officers. In some cases, the Native American women are even detained by the police and made to undergo mental examination to ascertain whether they are in their right senses. On top of this, the tribal police are also constrained by the laws that prevent them from pursuing cases involving people who are non native. The police in some instances also prevent the women from knowing the status of their prosecution, the results of the various examinations, status of the arrest of the individual and in some cases the police prepare incomplete reports which when used in trial can lead to the exoneration of the violent offender (Amnesty International, 2007). Court response to the problem The courts often face a lot of problems especially regarding who will prosecute depending on the location where the violence was carried out, and whether the accused violent offender was a Native or not. This has been the case of major delays in dealing with the cases of violence against Native American women thus the courts rarely prosecute this cases. The Tribal courts are constrained from prosecuting offenders who are not from the Native American communities. These courts are also faced with inadequate funding, thus sometimes the prosecutions stall. The federal courts have also been reluctant to prosecute cases of violence against Native women with the rates standing at 60.3 per cent according to Transparency international report. The state courts are also less equipped to handle the cases, especially the long distances to the courts and the language barrier (Bachman, Zaykowski, Kallmyer, Poteyeva and Lanier, 2008). Corrections service response to violence against women Majority of the violent offenders against Native American women who are in federal prisons are natives with very scanty numbers from the non natives while the statistics show that the majority of the offenders are non natives. Under the tribal correctional facilities, incarceration is not favored way of punishing offenders for instance use of dispute resolution methods and sentencing circles. The tribal prisons are faced with inadequate funding thus they prefer other methods to incarceration which may prove very costly (Bachman, Zaykowski, Kallmyer, Poteyeva and Lanier, 2008). Community response to the problem The response of the community has been very minimal especially due to the fact that they have accepted the socio-cultural practices. However, there have been programs that have been aimed at educating the victims of the violence as well as rehabilitating the offenders of the crime so that the prevalence of the crime can go down (Amnesty International, 2005). Case involving Violence against a Native American woman In this case, a native woman who was under the age of 18 was raped repeatedly by the former boyfriend; the boyfriend beat her up and forced her to engage in oral sex with him. This crime happened due to the fact that the offender and the victim were acquainted to each other. The boyfriend wanted to assert his authority over the girl as he felt his power was supped by the girlfriend’s denial. The crime would have been prevented if the former boyfriend would have been raised up knowing how to respect the various positions of the women and that they are not objects of the desires of the man. The control strategies were not effective as even after the boy had pleaded guilty, he did not serve the full term of his sentence. The offender did not realize the gravity of the situation, as after the plea bargain, he managed to receive a very light sentence. The victim developed a violent behavior which saw her spend along period in incarceration because of theft and destruction to property. The impact on the community was reduced trust in the judicial system especially arising from the paradox in the sentencing (Amnesty International, 2007, p.67). Conclusion Due to the enactment of VAWA, the cases of violence against women will increasingly reduce especially as a result of the growing number of organization which has become increasingly concerned with the violence that the Native American women face. The women in the native lands will increasingly be enlightened thus further increasing the reporting of the crimes. The evolution of the laws of the US will in the future ensure that there will be cross-‘deputization’ of state officers to the tribal lands so that violent offenders can have nowhere to run to. Bibliography Amnesty International 2007, Maze of Injustice: The failure to protect Indigenous women from sexual violence in the USA [online]http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/AMR51/035/2007/en/cbd28fa9-d3ad-11dd-a329-2f46302a8cc6/amr510352007en.pdf (Accessed November 26, 2011) Bachman, R., Zaykowski, H., Kallmyer, R., Poteyeva, M. and Lanier, C. 2008, Violence against American Indian and Alaska Native Women and the Criminal Justice Response: What is Known, U.S. Department of Justice [online]https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/223691.pdf (Accessed November 26, 2011) Crowell, N. A. and Burgess, A. W. (Eds) 1996, Understanding Violence against Women, Washington, D.C.: The National Academy Press Karen Heimer, 2008, "Understanding Violence against Women Using the NCVS: What We Know and Where We Need to Go", The Bureau of Justice Statistics Data User’s Workshop February 12, 2008, Washington, D.C.: 1-8 Scully, D. 1990, Understanding Sexual Violence, London: Harper Collins Weaver, H. 2009, "The colonial context of violence: Reflections on violence in the lives of Native American women," Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 24: 1552-1563