For three days last week more than 75 participants from across the United States participated in a training seminar hosted by the Justice and Interior Departments for tribal and federal law enforcement officials on investigating and prosecuting sexual assault cases on tribal lands.
From August 20 – 22, officials learned about topics such as law enforcement response, children as victims and witnesses, forensic examinations with adult victims and developing a coordinated community response to sexual assault according to a Department of Interior press release.
Nationally recognized officials and experts joined the Justice Department’s National Indian Country Training Coordinator, Leslie A. Hagen, during the training seminar at the National Advocacy Center in Columbia, South Carolina.
“It will take committed federal and tribal partnerships and a coordinated response to address the high rates of sexual violence in Indian country today,” Hagen said in the release. “This new training series will help build capacity for tribal and federal law enforcement first responders as well as the tribal and federal prosecutors who can help achieve justice for victims of sexual crimes, and who must also take into careful consideration the needs of victims in Native communities.”
The high rates that Hagen is referring to is the fact that 1 out of 3 Native women will experience rape in her lifetime. A statistic that many women in Native communities are well aware of according to Sunny Clifford. Clifford who was interviewed by Indian Country Today Media Network in July for her campaign to make Plan B available in Indian country was quoted as saying, “I already knew this statistic of 1 in 3 before the [Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center February 2012] report. I think most Native women are aware without a report that they have a high chance of being raped or sexually assaulted. This statistic is not surprising to me. I live this reality.”
“The training program we are launching jointly with the Department of Justice to address the high rates of sexual assault on tribal lands builds on our efforts to reduce violent crime in Indian country,” said Darren Cruzan, Deputy Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services, in the release. “I want to thank our federal and tribal partners for working with us to develop this comprehensive training program. It is an important part of OJS’s mission to improve public safety in tribal communities, and underscores our commitment to achieving justice for violent crime victims.”