Workgroup, council to address sexual violence on Navajo Nation

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — Council Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty (Beclabito, Cove, Gadi’i’áhi/To’Koi, Red Valley, Tooh Haltsooi, Toadlena/Two Grey Hills, Tsé ałnáoz’t’I’í), chair for the Sexual Assault Prevention Subcommittee, will be unveiling a policy brief regarding sexual violence on the Navajo Nation with the intention of educating and garnering support from Navajo Nation Council members.

The policy brief entitled “Protect Navajo Children: The Impact of Sexual Violence,” was developed with the aid of the Navajo Sexual Violence Prevention Workgroup, explains the current status of sexual violence on the Navajo Nation, offers a summary of statistical insight and provides recommendations to council members.

Crotty said violence against children is a violation that deeply affects thousands of Navajos nationwide. According

to the Indian Health Service and the National Institute of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control, it is estimated that at least one-in-four Navajo children experience some form of sexual abuse, and one-in-three Navajo women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes.

“Sexual violence is an urgent public health problem that impacts women, children, and men each year. This brief describes the gaps in services for the victims of sexual violence, provides data on the rates of sexual violence, and underscores the need for coordination between federal, state, and tribal law enforcement, school districts and health care providers to effectively prevent sexual violence,” Crotty said.

She added there is a paramount need to ensure that victims receive much needed services and are provided the necessary resources and support to address their traumas to promote healing processes.

Crotty and Council Delegate Jonathan Hale (Oak Springs, St, Michaels) co-sponsored legislation to form the SAP Subcommittee in May 2016 through Naabik’íyáti’ Committee resolution NABIMY-33-16. The subcommittee has been working to develop a sexual assault prevention plan, policy and partnerships to address sexual assaults on the Navajo Nation.

Crotty said the brief is an opportunity for not only the Council to begin the discussion regarding sexual violence, but it could encourage Navajo communities to begin talking openly about sexual assault, abuse, rape and violence, and to end the stigma that these are “taboo subjects” that should not be discussed publicly.

“I am pleased to have this policy brief published. It is the first of its kind on the Navajo Nation,” Crotty said. “This brief puts the spotlight on an issue that we ignore, but it is the beginning for us to say, ‘No, we will not let this happen to our sisters, brothers and most especially to our precious children.’”

In conjunction with the unveiling of the policy brief, the SAP Subcommittee iskicked off its “Start by Believing” campaign April 17 at 10 a.m. during the 2017 Spring Council Session, which seeks to change the response to sexual assault and to end the cycle of silence to encourage victims to come forward, and inspire Navajo communities to be an integral support system to sexual assault survivors.

In addition, the workgroup will also launch a public website, www.DineWomen4Change.org, that would allow the public to stay informed of the progress of relevant legislation, how to get involved in advocacy and offer resources to parents regarding sexual violence prevention and personal safety for their children. One of the highlights of the website will include the “Start by Believing” campaign with material available for local communities.

“This policy brief, website, and campaign puts the spotlight on the issue of sexual violence, which we too often ignore. The effort is a step in the right direction as we seek to promote the well-being and safety of the Navajo children in our communities,” Crotty said.

The policy brief will be available during the 2017 Spring Council Session in hardcopy and electronic format. More information regarding the policy brief is available from the Office of the Speaker at (928) 871-7160.

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