Monday, August 11, 2008

Stopping Rape in Indian Country

I hope you'll read an important OpEd in today's New York Times about a little known and gravely overlooked subject. One of my favorite Dartmouth professors, Bruce Duthu, has an article today about the astronomical rate of rape in Indian country, and proposes some solid solutions. I am planning on doing an independent study with Prof. Duthu next year about this very topic, and his Native Americans and the Law class is one of the best courses I've had yet. Here is an excerpt from his OpEd:

One in three American Indian women will be raped in their lifetimes, statistics gathered by the United States Department of Justice show. But the odds of the crimes against them ever being prosecuted are low, largely because of the complex jurisdictional rules that operate on Indian lands. Approximately 275 Indian tribes have their own court systems, but federal law forbids them to prosecute non-Indians. Cases involving non-Indian offenders must be referred to federal or state prosecutors, who often lack the time and resources to pursue them.

The situation is unfair to Indian victims of all crimes — burglary, arson, assault, etc. But the problem is greatest in the realm of sexual violence because rapes and other sexual assaults on American Indian women are overwhelmingly interracial. More than 80 percent of Indian victims identify their attacker as non-Indian. (Sexual violence against white and African-American women, in contrast, is primarily intraracial.) And American Indian women who live on tribal lands are more than twice as likely to be raped or sexually assaulted as other women in the United States, Justice Department statistics show.

But Prof. Duthu isn't one to just list problems and spread doom and gloom. Read the whole thing for solutions.


Bill Gnade said...

Dear Mr. Empsall,

Indeed, you report on a profound tragedy. Prayer seems almost futile in the face of such news.

Perhaps this is not the spot to ask this question, but since I am new to your blog, I've no idea where I might find a more appropriate place: When you describe yourself as "wayward", what do you mean? My sense is that it is hard to be wayward in TEC unless you diverge from its current liberal orthodoxy. But I don't sense you are at odds with the national church. In what way, then, are you wayward? Or am I asking the wrong question? If so, forgive me.



Nathan Empsall said...

Hi, Bill! My mother once told me that prayer is never the least you can do; it is always the most you can do. It is never futile.

Haha, there's nothing wrong with that question, though I can't say I've been asked it before! No, I am not wayward AS an Episcopalian, but I am an Episcopalian who can be wayward in life. The name comes partly because it occured to me out of the blue and I really liked it, but also because I originally established this blog as a journal for my adventures in hurricane relief. For about a year, the full name was "The Wayward Episcopalian: Nathan in New Orleans." Both of my parents, and one in particular, were opposed to my extended time in Louisiana. I tried to see it their way and considered all their arguments even more than I usually do, but in the end, I felt called by God and just kept coming back to the fact that James and John got out of the boat. So when it was time to name the blog, I was being rather wayward about its contents. The name has additional significance, not that I thought about it when starting the blog, in that I am often the only liberal or Episcopalian with my conservative Christian friends and often the only devote Christian with my political friends. I'm used to having a foot in many camps, but that can often mean outcast as much as it does perception.

Thanks for asking! :)