Tribal women ‘particularly vulnerable’ to violence

November 22, 2007

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As 25 November marks the UN Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, Survival has written to the UN expressing concern that tribal women are ‘particularly vulnerable’ to violence and sexual exploitation when outsiders invade their land.

Most cases of violence against tribal women go unreported, and the figures available are likely to represent a small fraction of the true number.

In October, two Guarani Indian women were raped by security guards working for a rancher who is illegally occupying their land in the state of Mato Grosso in Brazil.

In Bangladesh, there is a long history of rape of Jumma women by Bengali settlers, who are moving onto the Jummas’ land with the support of the government and the army.

In West Papua, rape of tribal women by Indonesian soldiers is well documented, with victims ranging in age from 3 to 60 years old.

The Yanomami in Brazil have reported that soldiers stationed on their land without their consent have lured under-age Yanomami girls into prostitution. On the Andaman Islands in India there are allegations that Jarawa women have been sexually exploited by travellers on the road that runs illegally through their land.

Survival’s director Stephen Corry said today, ‘Tribal women are some of the most vulnerable people in the world, often ruthlessly targeted for exploitation. Literally thousands of them suffer rape and prostitution at the hands of those who target their lands, and view them as primitive and backward. The tragedy is that in their own societies they often have an equality and freedom that many in the West can only envy.’

For more information contact Miriam Ross on (+44) (0)20 7687 8734 or email [email protected]