Violence Against Indigenous Women And Girls: A Complex Phenomenon

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This briefing note is intended to inspire discussion and thought about the complexity of the challenges of violence against indigenous women and girls. Work being done by indigenous women’s organisations in Asia and around the world has increasingly drawn attention to the need for specific analysis and understanding to be established of the nature and forms of such violence. This note also intends to shed light on the need to respect rights in totality, to simultaneously respect and protect the individual and collective rights of indigenous women.

The nature of violence against indigenous women and girls is often assumed to be the same as the broader nature of violence against women. However as shown through the experiences of indigenous women in Asia and recounted here, violence against indigenous women and girls often takes very specific forms. Violence can be enacted on the collective cultural, social and economic rights of indigenous peoples and such violence has very specific impacts on women and girls. How we understand this violence and how we understand the impact of disturbing the relationship between indigenous women and the lands and resources on which they depend will change how we fight such impacts.

Indigenous peoples in Asia are gaining increasing recognition of their status as indigenous peoples, but many continue to face a lack of recognition by their own governments and others. In this statement we are referring to peoples who may be known by other terms in their own countries, as ‘ethnic minorities’, or ‘hill tribes’, or ‘adivasi’, and our reference is inclusive of all peoples who chose to self-define as ‘indigenous’ regardless of national government terminology.

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