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The New York Times Calls Attention to the Threat and Torment of Rape in Indian Country

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An article in The New York Times today underscores the horror and injustice suffered by Native women in Alaska's remote villages, who are 12 times more likely than the average woman in the United States to become a victim of sexual violence, according a survey by the Alaska Federation of Natives.

The article opens with the dark, heart-shattering story of an Alaska Native woman who resides in an ice fishing village located in the Yukon River delta, population approximately 800. Late one night, an intruder broke into her home and raped her. He left. Trembling, she called the tribal police, a force of three. No one picked up on the other end of the line, and her call was never returned.

“I drank a lot,” she told the Times this spring, three years later. “You get to a certain point, it hits a wall.”

With no roads leading in and out of Alaska's isolated villages, and undependable telephone, electrical and Internet service, these women are particularly vulnerable to sexual assault. A shortage of sexual assault kits at Indian Health Service hospitals, in addition to a lack of access to birth control and sexually transmitted disease testing, compounds an already grave problem. Furthermore, too few nurses are trained to perform rape examinations—a generally necessary procedure to take a case to trial. But incidents of rape are rarely taken to court, as tribal police generally discourage the women from reporting sexual assaults to begin with, the Times reported.

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“We should never have a woman come into the office saying, ‘I need to learn more about Plan B for when my daughter gets raped,’ ” Charon Asetoyer, a women’s health advocate on the Yankton Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, told the Times, referring to the morning-after pill. “That’s what’s so frightening—that it’s more expected than unexpected. It has become a norm for young women.”

Read the full article: For Native American Women, Scourge of Rape, Rare Justice

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