Published April 17, 2016
WINDOW ROCK-President Russell Begaye signed a proclamation on Thursday, Apr. 14, declaring April 2016 as Navajo Nation Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention month.
President Begaye and Vice President Jonathan Nez both stated that sexual violence is a major public health, social justice and human rights issue.
“Sexual assault is a critical issue that faces the Navajo Nation and one that shouldn’t affect the lives of our children, especially young ladies,” President Begaye said.
It has been estimated by the U.S. Department of Justice that 100 women on the Navajo Nation are assaulted every month, which averages to over three assaults a day.
“As a nation, we should never treat our women or young women this way,” he said. “I’m asking our people to look within themselves and get back to the foundations on which the Navajo Nation is built. These foundations are Ke and Hozho.”
Vice President Nez described sexual assault on the Navajo Nation as a public health crisis.
The vice president said the tribe needs to implement necessary change, including additional funding to support data reporting, laboratory testing and mental health services for survivors.
“Reliable data is needed to determine prevalence and incidence rates for accurate trends of sexual violence on the Navajo Nation, and comparison with other populations,” Vice President Nez said.
Survivors of sexual assault incur deep emotional trauma that most often necessitates extensive behavioral and mental health services to mediate. Many times, treatment only scratches the surface of emotional rehabilitation.
“No person should ever carry a burden like this,” President Begaye said. “Let’s work together to totally eradicate sexual assault on our Navajo children and the Navajo people.”