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Indigenous Women And Racism February 1, 2007

Posted by C.A.R.D in AIDS, Card, Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination, Discriminate, Discrimination, Indigenous Women, Kamala Sarup, Racism, Racist, UN, United Nations, World Indigenous Day.

On December 10, 1992, indigenous leaders from more than fifty countries told the UN that “governments continue to desecrate and appropriate religious and sacred places and objects, depriving indigenous nations around the world of their basic spiritual ways of life.” Indigenous people often find that the mainstream culture tries to undermine their culture.

More than 370 Million indigenous people—that is more than 10 percent of the global population– in 70 countries worldwide are discussing these and other issues on the occasion of the World Indigenous Day on Tuesday ( Augg 9 ). Approximately, three-quarters of the world’s 6,000 languages are spoken by indigenous people. To begin with, how do we define indigenous people?

The people occupying an area before it was found by other people are indigenous.

Guatemala’s Nobel Peace Prize laureate Rigoberta Menchú—who belongs to indigenous community—said, “The International Day is also an occasion to vigorously condemn the grave and systematic violation of the inalienable rights of indigenous peoples, which even affects the right to life. In some countries, extinction is threatening indigenous people, while in others they suffer starvation; and the conditions of marginalization, segregation, oppression and racism of which they are victims have generally not been eliminated.” She further added, “It is hypocritical of the UN and of governments to declare a day for indigenous people and then do nothing about it”.

Among the indigenous people women are facing more poverty and violence. Violence against indigenous women has become a global threat. Even after the Beijing Conference, indigenous women’s issues have not been taken seriously. Indigenous women’s issues were not specifically mentioned in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

The majority of Indigenous women from rural areas do not know about the conferences. They are not empowered to use them as effective tools in their country to change their lives. Without poor and rural indigenous women’s activism UN or any international decisions will not be implemented in practice, no matter how good they are on books or on paper.

For Indigenous women, gender-based violence is fueled by racism. They are marginalized and abused. They are facing discrimination. Indigenous women have been targeted for rape and forced displacement. Indigenous people including women have been victims of so-called development and globalisation. Globally, the media shows little interest in indigenous women’s issues. The media does not seem to be giving adequate attention.

Many indigenous people and women do not have the legal right to live on their lands. Today, many of the world’s war zones are inhabited by indigenous people and women. Thousands of indigenous women have died and many more have been injured or left homeless worldwide.

Statistics compiled by HealthInfoNet website indicate that the incidence of HIV infection among indigenous women in Australia is much higher, over 18 percent, compared to five percent for non-indigenous women as a result of heterosexual intercourse, accounting for 30 percent of indigenous AIDS cases as opposed to 7 percent for the general population.

The ABS, Ausrtalia, report further says, “The health of people and women in remote communities is affected by their isolation and limited access to health services as well as factors relevant to the indigenous population as a whole.”

According to the 1991 census indigenous people comprise 35.6 percent of the total population of Nepal. According to the Nepal Federation of Nationalities, there are more than 25 constitutional and more than 40 legal provisions that are discriminatory vis a vis the indigenous people ( NEFEN 2000, Subba et. al., 2000 ). It is high time such discriminatory provisions are removed and indigenous women are accommodated in the national mainstream.

Nepali Journalist and Story Writer Kamala Sarup is an editor of peacejournalism.com. She is specialising in in-depth reporting and writing on Peace, Anti War, Women, Terrorism, Democracy, and Development. Some of her publications are: Women’s Empowerment ( Booklet ). Prevention of trafficking in women through media,( Book ) Efforts to Prevent Trafficking in for Media Activism ( Media research ). Two Stories collections. Her interests include international conflict resolution, cross-cultural communication, philosophy, feminism, political, socio-economic and literature. Her current plans are to move on to humanitarian work in conflict areas in the near future. She also is experienced in organizational and community development.

CARD {Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination} Source: presszoom.com

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