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Statement on Violence against Indigenous Women and Girls

Mr President,

This statement is made on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries: Denmark with Greenland, Finland, Iceland, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Norway.

One in three women experience physical or sexual violence during their lifetime. Violence against women and girls is a serious form for gender-based discrimination and a clear violation of human rights. Gender-based violence is as global challenge, including in our own region. 

Indigenous women are particularly at risk when it comes to sexual and gender-based violence, trafficking, domestic violence, and gender based killings. We therefore strongly welcome the adoption of the first ever resolution to eliminate, prevent and respond to violence against indigenous women and girls by the Council in its 32nd session (A/HRC/32/L.28/Rev.1).

The resolution calls upon States to acknowledge that combating violence against indigenous women and girls will require measures that take into account their specific circumstances and needs.

Availability of knowledge on all forms of violence against indigenous women and girls is key. 

We also need to understand how those affected by violence are met by those who are meant to help, such as health professionals, the police, child services and the court system. Can victims report their case and receive assistance in their own language? Do the service providers know anything about their culture and traditions? Are national measures that are meant to address violence against women and to ensure justice, reaching our indigenous populations?

These are questions we as States have to be concerned about as a part of our obligation to protect the human rights of all.

The fact that indigenous women and girls often face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination has been highlighted in a number of reports. In the context of preventing violence against indigenous women and girls, special attention should also be given to women and girls with disabilities, as well as lesbian, bisexual and transgender indigenous women, who might be in a particularly vulnerable situation.

The High Commissioners report on the application of the UNDRIP (A/HRC/33/27), shows that concern over violence against indigenous women and girls is a recurrent issue in the recommendations from the Treaty Bodies and the Universal periodic review. We urge the OHCHR to ensure that its support to development of national action plans includes measures to eliminate, prevent and respond to violence against indigenous women and girls.

To succeed in fighting violence and ensuring access to justice for indigenous women and girls, boys and men must be part of the solution. Men have a crucial role to play as fathers, brothers, friends, decision makers, and community and opinion leaders. At the same time, indigenous women’s empowerment and leadership must be promoted, within families and in local and national decision-making structures, including indigenous governance structures.

The agreement on the 2030 Agenda in the UN was a historic event. Now it is time for us all to follow up. The Sustainable Development Goals rightly include a goal (Goal 5.2) on elimination of all forms of violence against all women and girls in public and private spheres. Indigenous women and girls must be both part of the plan and part of the solution.

Thank you.