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CSW60: Violence Against Indigenous Women

Statement by Minister Solveig Horne on the CSW60 side-event on Violence Against Indigenous Women, with the Sami Parliament, 14 March 2016

| Commission on the Status of Women

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Dear president, Dear colleagues and friends,

I am very pleased to be with you today to address an important issue – violence against indigenous women. I want to thank the Sami Parliament and FOKUS for organising this side-event.

Violence against women is one of our biggest challenges. It is a gender equality issue, and a human rights issue. Violence is also a threat to sustainable development.

Gender-based violence happens everywhere, in every society, regardless of social background, whether at home, at work, at school, in the street or online. It happens during armed conflicts as well as in time of peace.

It is a sad fact that indigenous women are more at risk when it comes to violence, harmful practices, labour exploitation and harassment, and are more vulnerable to sexual violence in armed conflicts. That is why addressing this topic is so important.

Not only does violence affect women's health and well-being. It can also hamper women's access to employment, thereby threatening their economic independence.

Norway appears high on several indexes measuring gender equality. However, Norway is not free from gender-based violence. A nationwide survey carried out in 2014, showed that approximately 1 out of 10 women have been victims of severe violence from their current or former partner. 9,5 percent of women and 1 percent of men have experienced rape. I am very concerned that many victims do not report these crimes to the police and do not seek help.

More than half of the women killed in 2015 were killed by their present or former partner.

The Norwegian government's view is clear. Violence against women and domestic violence is a serious crime. We must prevent it and combat it. We cannot accept that women are victims of violence in the very place where they should feel safe – in their own homes. We need a strong national legal framework prohibiting all forms of violence and sexual abuse. We need to put in place measures to help and protect the victims, and to prosecute and treat the perpetrators.

The best way to end violence against women and girls is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Early intervention and risk protection are essential. Good parenting and secure family relationships are important underpinnings of a good childhood. My Government has therefore strengthened the family support services.

One important step is to conquer the feeling of shame that holds victims back from seeking help and speaking up. In Norway, we have introduced routine questions about violence in connection with maternity check-ups. So far, the result is that more women get help.

All municipalities in Norway must provide shelters that help women who are victims of domestic violence.

Recently we launched an information campaign called "Your way out". The campaign provides information to victims of violence, but it also calls upon everybody else. If you suspect that a colleague or a friend is a victim of domestic violence, you should take action. Domestic violence is not a private affair; it is something that affects the whole society.

The Norwegian police has strengthened their focus on violence in close relations and towards women. Among several measures they have launched a campaign to prevent rape. We will also ensure that the subject of violence and sexual abuse is included in professional study programmes such as health and social care studies and teachers' training. Public services agencies should know how to handle suspicions of violence or abuse.

It is a challenge to provide victims of violence with coordinated services. One good example in Norway is the ten Children's Houses located around the country. Since 2012, one of the Children's Houses has the national responsibility to provide services for Sami children.

Information is key to prevent and reveal violence. Last year the organization Care made a strong video called "Dear Daddy". The video is also in English and got international attention. We meet a girl who addresses attitudes among boys and men and show how small and maybe seemingly innocent comments and acts can lead to violence and rape.

Violence against indigenous women Today's important issue to be discussed is violence against indigenous women. A UN study establishes a link between violence and indigenous peoples' exposure to discrimination and exclusion.

Violence against indigenous women is, for instance, linked to: - gender inequality and discrimination - poverty, exclusion and limited access to services - and the dispossession of lands.

In Norway, national laws and international conventions set the obligations towards indigenous people's rights.

The rights of the Sami are protected through Norway's obligations under several international conventions.

As an indigenous people, the Sami are given particular protection in the Norwegian Constitution. The Sami are also protected by more specific provisions in the Sami Act and other legislation.

The Norwegian government's Sami policy is implemented through action plans, budgetary means and an extensive legal framework.

The Sami Parliament, as the representative political body for the Sami in Norway, is an important dialogue partner for the Norwegian government.

However, the study that will be presented today shows worrisome rates of violence against Sami women.

I am glad that the Sami Parliament and the Ministry of Justice have co-funded a project aimed at getting better knowledge of domestic violence in Sami communities. The purpose of the project is to identify the factors that affect domestic violence. The project will also look at possible preventive measures and assistance.

The fight against violence has to start early. It is of great importance to stop the cycle of violence. A history of violence and abuse is a major risk factor for the next generation. Many children experiencing violence or growing up in a violent environment are likely to become violent or abused as adults.

My ministry is preparing a new plan against violence in close relations and against children. My administration is in contact with the Sami Parliament to ensure that specific Sami issues are included in this document.

Last month, I participated at ECOSOC Youth Forum here in New York, and I would like to stress: If we are to reach our goals to end violence we need to involve the youth. They are experts on their lives. Their viewpoints must be used actively in the formulation of future policies and services.

Violence against women is one of the biggest threats to gender equality. We need to step up our work to reach the goal of ending all violence against women and girls before 2030.

Thank you so much for your attention!