ASU Research Shows Increasing Number of Missing Indigenous Women, Girls
Tuesday, February 21, 2023
Researchers at Arizona State University are tackling the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women in the state, trying to figure out why it is happening and what can be done to stop it.
Kate Fox, professor and director of the Research on Violent Victimization Lab at Arizona State University, said the data speaks for itself. The killing of Indigenous women and girls has been increasing over the past 40 years.
Through data obtained through grassroots organizations and law-enforcement agencies, Fox and her team, along with the state, have determined 160 Indigenous females were known to police to be murdered between 1976 and 2018 in Arizona.
She pointed out the number is expected to be much higher, as many cases go unreported. Fox added only recently has the conversation shifted to look at all Indigenous people.
"There is a growing recognition across the nation and across the globe that this is not something that only impacts Indigenous women and girls," Fox emphasized. "It does impact all Indigenous peoples."
In 2019 Arizona passed a law establishing a study committee to investigate how serious the problem is in Arizona.
Fox noted there is still a lot of work to be done and hopes Arizona, as well as other states, continue to investigate. Fox stressed many systemic factors rooted in racial injustice, violence and colonization are responsible for the crisis.
The report produced by the committee found the danger heavily affected Indigenous females ages 20-40. Around 30% of the cases are committed by unknown offenders, with 28% of cases involving an intimate partner.
Fox argued not only is the work her primarily Indigenous team producing critically important, it is being given back to Indigenous communities to know and use. She explained it is possible to create safe and healthy communities.
"It is just going to take a lot of collaboration across Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and organizations," Fox pointed out. "It is going to take the westernized way of thinking transitioning and acknowledging and working within Indigenous worldviews."
Fox encouraged people to get educated on the true history and treatment of Indigenous people, noting one of the ways one can take action is by participating annually in state and Missing or Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day on May 5.
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