By Sophie Russo, VGIF UN Representative.
Agnes Liu, of the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee, on violence against indigenous women and girls at a press conference during the 11th session of the UNPFII.
The 11th session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues took place in New York from May 7 to 18, 2012. At the end of the session, the Forum adopted nine draft recommendations focusing on the Doctrine of Discovery, the 2014 World Conference, intellectual property, human rights, food sovereignty and violence against women. Considering the dire situation of indigenous women and the little attention that was paid to them in past sessions, the draft decision on combating violence against indigenous women and girls is particularly significant.
Indigenous women and girls are disproportionally affected by sex trafficking, prostitution, bonded labor, internal displacement, environmental violence, and detrimental cultural practices such as genital mutilation, witch-hunting, and bride price. High levels of interpersonal violence is intertwined with the history of discrimination and marginalization experienced by indigenous peoples, which fostered poverty, lack of access to land and natural resources, and limited access to education and health services. Moreover, policies by states and multinational corporations continue to hurt indigenous women and girls by violating the principles of indigenous communities and their human rights.
Unfortunately, there is little literature and a lack of statistics on violence against indigenous women and girls, which prevents the design of evidence-based policies. Limited domestic enforcement measures for international treaties, along with the lack of accessibility of treaty committees and familiarity with formal requirements of the international human rights framework among indigenous peoples, limit the efficiency of international treaties.
The recommendations of the Permanent Forum are based on the recommendations of the three-day international expert group meeting held in January 2012 on combating violence against indigenous women and girls. This expert group meeting aimed at ensuring the respect of Article 22 of the Declaration of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which states, “states shall take measures, in conjunction with indigenous peoples, to ensure that indigenous women and children enjoy the full protection and guarantees against all forms of violence and discrimination.”
The Forum suggested that member states put in place gender-sensitive action plans and independent self-reporting mechanisms to protect indigenous women victims of violence, prosecute perpetrators and prevent human trafficking; strengthen national censuses and data collection to include disaggregated data on violence against indigenous women and girls; and implement Security Council Resolutions 1325 (2000), 1820 (2008), 1888 (2009), 1889 (2009) and 1960 (2010) which protect the rights of women in armed conflict and conflict negotiations.
The Forum also requested UN-Women and the bureau of the fifty-seventh session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) that indigenous women be included as experts on violence against women in interactive panels during the CSW57 and that the report of the international expert group form part of the official documentation of the fifty-seventh session.
To increase the effectiveness and accountability of police forces when dealing with cases of missing indigenous women and girls, the Forum recommended that United Nations agencies, bodies and other entities support the development of protocol templates for police practices, and that indigenous peoples and member states work together to ensure lawful implementation.
Indigenous organizations were also called upon to better monitor and assess violence against women and girls in their communities, and to present reports to the Permanent Forum on the subject. The Forum also encouraged indigenous organizations to make more effective use international human rights treaty bodies like CEDAW by communicating reports on violence against indigenous women and girls.
In addition to recommendations, several positive developments were underlined. The Forum congratulated UN agencies for their continuing research on violence against indigenous girls and young women and recognized their efforts to work collaboratively with indigenous women. It welcomed the adoption of a resolution on indigenous women and their roles in poverty and hunger eradication during the 56th session of the CSW, along with the increased participation of indigenous women with disabilities during the Forum’s 11th session.
For more detailed information, see:
Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues Website: http://social.un.org/index/IndigenousPeoples.aspx
“Report of the international expert group meeting: Combating violence against indigenous women and girls: Article 22 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Recommendations of the Permanent Forum” (E/C.19/2012/L.3): http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N12/338/90/PDF/N1233890.pdf?OpenElement
“Report of the international expert group meeting: Combating violence against indigenous women and girls: Article 22 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples” (E/C.19/2012/6): http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N12/245/82/PDF/N1224582.pdf?OpenElement
“Recommendations of the Permanent Forum” (E/C.19/2012/L.2): http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N12/336/47/PDF/N1233647.pdf?OpenElement