A June 19 guest editorial featured Roasalie Fish, the high school student who participated in a Washington state track meet with a red hand print over her mouth and the initials MMIW painted on her leg in solidarity with missing and murdered indigenous women. As a member of the Cowlitz Tribe, she chose this dignified and eloquent way to protest the violence endured by four in five Native American and Native Alaskan women in their lifetimes.
After a visit to Alaska in May, Attorney General William Barr declared a public safety emergency in the state’s rural communities with largely Native populations, noting some of the nation’s highest rates of sexual assault, rape, domestic abuse and femicide along with a lack of law enforcement services. He pledged additional federal funds.
But much more needs to be done. Discrimination and poverty contribute to violence against Native women and girls. The vast majority of sexual violence against them is committed by non-natives, and confusion about legal jurisdiction often results in impunity for perpetrators. Too few health clinics are available to help the survivors, and these are often understaffed, inadequately equipped and long distances from the locations of those who need their services.
Iowans can help by urging Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst to reauthorize a robust Violence Against Women Act in line with H. R. 1585 recently passed in the House of Representatives.
Alice Dahle, Chair
Women’s Human Rights Coord. Group