Native American women twice as likely to be raped

"One in three American Indian women have been raped or have experienced an attempted rape," according to a Justice Department statistic cited in the NYT. The rate of sexual assault among indigenous American women "is more than twice the national average," and it's particular grim in "Alaska’s isolated villages, where there are no roads in or out, and where people are further cut off by undependable telephone, electrical and Internet service."


  1. Given the autonomy(in a number of respects, many of which seem to be ‘freedom to starve’ type stuff in practice) of tribal areas, how does policing and resources for policing work?

    Do feds have the ability to gain jurisdiction if the crime occurs between a tribal area and a US state, the way that they do for crimes across state boundaries? Do the tribal area law enforcement types have some sort of extradition capabilities, and the reverse on the state side?

    And, particularly in the ‘isolated Alaskan villages’ case, do we have any historical records of what the numbers have looked like over time? It isn’t as though they’ve become more isolated over time, so either the numbers have always been horrific(which one would prefer not to believe; but it wouldn’t be the first time that a human culture has been nontrivially based on coercion and violence) or whatever internal policing mechanism used to work has broken down…

  2. Ah, but are any of these legitima… You know what? That joke isn’t funny enough to continue it. I want to apologize for the first half of my joke, even though it was a quote and I was attempting to use it to highlight the absolute ignorance of the statement… It still isn’t funny.

  3. I wonder if it’s mainly a result of poverty forcing you into living in isolated rural areas.  Rural crime rates have probably always been sky-high compared to urban rates.  Sherlock Holmes commented on it while looking out of a railway car at some point in The Canon.  Where Watson saw only a bucolic countryside Holmes saw a series of perfect settings for crime.

  4. This implies that the national average is less than one in six. Yet the one-in-four statistic is generally treated as gospel. Does anyone know what the best sources are for these numbers?

    1. The one-in-four number comes from every rape crisis centre in the US and Canada, but the original source seems to be a survey of 3000 college women in 1982. Here’s an article that goes into more detail:

      1. I always wondered how that statistic squared with the 85% drop in rape since the 1970s. Now I know.

  5. I hear this is a big jurisdiction problem. Basically the tribal areas are “autonomous” but their courts are severely restricted in the sentences they can impose and/or their ability to hold non-tribe members accountable. I’m not at all informed though… I would think this would be a bigger deal in the national press.

  6. Thank you for acknowledging this crisis, Xeni.

    Complicated jurisdictions and economic factors are only a small part of the problem.  Media and popular stereotypes sexualize and marginalize native women. 

    The small villages aren’t just a result of poverty, rather they’re ancestral homelands and our culture is a subsistence lifestyle.  They don’t live in rural areas just because they’re not rich.

Comments are closed.