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Violence Against Indigenous Women

Public health researchers in Venezuela have argued that cholera is a disease of poverty; yet in making this assumption, they fail to acknowledge the social, historical, and economic circumstances that have contributed to this epidemic in Venezuela. Cultural analysis and exoticization have allowed government officials to assume that cholera is merely an indigenous problem. “Indigena” are frequently stigmatized, and it is assumed that “‘Warao customs’ were responsible for the high rates of morbidity and mortality” during the cholera epidemic (Briggs, 674). Briggs’ article addresses one particular instance of stigmatization against indigenous women in Venezuela who are subordinated and made particularly vulnerable because of their low social standing. And what makes this an even greater issue is that these women lack necessary legal protection.

Violence against indigenous women is not limited to Venezuela. Just this past year, a report was released by Amnesty International, detailing discrimination and violence against indigenous women in Canada. While reading through the report, I found several shocking facts, such as:

  • “According to a Canadian government statistic, young Indigenous women are five times more likely than other women of the same age to die as the result of violence.”
  • “Racist and sexist stereotypes deny the dignity and worth of Indigenous women, encouraging some men to feel they can get away with acts of hatred against them.”

It is unjust that the Canadian government has failed to take a greater initiative in addressing this problem against aboriginal women. In a collective plan of action constructed by multiple advocates, it was demanded that the Canadian government further understand the root problem of the issue–one that is probably linked to the economic gap between indigenous and non-indigenous people. These disparities have resulted in greater violence against marginalized populations, very similar to the racialization of the cholera epidemic in Venezuela.


Modernity, Cultural Reasoning, and the Institutionalization of Social Inequality: Racializing Death in a Venezuelan Cholera Epidemic
Charles L. Briggs
Comparative Studies in Society and History
Vol. 43, No. 4 (Oct., 2001), pp. 665-700

3 responses to “Violence Against Indigenous Women

  1. Margo ⋅

    The issue of violence against women in different communities around the world is something that I think we should all know more about. This pattern repeats itself over and over again: we portray certain groups of people to be less-than-human, and thus impossible to understand or help . “Oh, they’re not REAL mothers like you and I, they don’t even care if they have a child that doesn’t make it…” It is so easy to blame the victim; this way, we don’t have to act or inspect where the larger problem lies.

  2. dinasharif ⋅

    Very Interesting that you confront the issue of violence against indigenous women in Canada. You should look up something called the modern train of tears that is currently going on in Canada, where Indigenous men and women are often subjects of brutal violence, police brutality, rape, and there have even been recorded disappearances of many indigenous Canadian women. I completely agree that the Canadian government should take more of an initiative to stop this violence, however, to much dismay they just sweep this “modern trail of tears” under the rug unfortunately.

  3. emneth ⋅

    It is very disturbing and shocking that nearly five hundred years after European Explorers reached and wiped out majority of the indigenous population; the indigenous people are continuing to face discrimination and structural violence. It is sickening to know that there high rates of suicide among Native American youth. The indigenous people continue to suffer in high proportion in their own homeland while others prosper around them.

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