22 November 2007

and our stop violence against women state coodinator chimes in with her experience...

yesterday i posted the musings and reflections of one of our local chapter members from her experiences at the southern regional conference of amnesty international in miami about 5 weeks ago...these are the thoughts of one of our other sisters...

peace out <3

Hi all,

I was asked to share my thoughts and experiences from the regional conference in Miami so if you don’t mind I’ll share those here on the listserv. I attended three workshops: Islamophobia; LGBT Rights; and Violence against Native American Women. All were great ways to gain some general background info on these issues.

Since my main focus is the Stop Violence Against Women Campaign (SVAW), the workshop on Native American women was of particular interest to me (this was actually the only workshop for the SVAW campaign). The workshop started out with a point about the degree to which most Americans are ignorant of Native American issues. The participants got a short lesson on some aspects of Native American culture and history, both of which are intertwined with the issues facing Native American women today. There is such a delicate balance between preserving tribal customs and culture and prosecuting perpetrators of serious crimes such as murder and rape that has really led to a confusing mix of state, federal and tribal law that makes the current issue pretty complex. In the workshop, a Native American women spoke about her experience with rape on the reservation she was from. The perpetrator of the rape was never punished, and the mishandling of her case was horrendous (the native police discarded the physical evidence against the man so that it essentially came down to her word vs. his and she dropped the charges in frustration). This is the main ordeal facing Native women now—perpetrators of sexual and physical violence against Native American women simply are not being brought to justice, and Native American women are understandably mistrustful of the legal system so that most crimes are not even reported. One of the actions suggested in the workshop was letter writing to congress to urge a bill that will require publicly accessible records of the rates of rape on reservations, the rates of prosecution of these rapes, and the reasons behind decisions not to prosecute such claims.

The workshop gave me a good groundwork of Native American issues. It certainly is a complex state of affairs, but I really want to make it one of the priorities this upcoming year for the SVAW campaign. The conference was a great way to get some ideas on how to do this—letter writing and also just getting the info out there to the general public.

Overall, I had a great experience at the conference. It always boosts my motivation to see others who are passionate about human rights, especially when much of the time it seems like an uphill battle. The conference reminded me that even small differences add up and that Amnesty has great human and educational resources to really funnel our work into big strides for the human rights campaign.


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