New committee to tackle ‘crisis’ of missing, murdered Native American females
KINGMAN – Arizona has officially taken steps to begin addressing what Gov. Doug Ducey calls the “crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.”
H.B. 2570, passed early this year with unanimous support in both the House and Senate, creates a study committee focused on missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. The bill was introduced by State Rep. Jennifer Jermaine, D-Chandler, and signed by Ducey Tuesday, Aug. 13.
“Today, we have taken a meaningful step toward bringing to light countless untold stories of missing or murdered indigenous women and girls,” said Rep. Jennifer Jermaine in a press release. “For too long, these families have suffered in silence. The collaborative work of this committee, in partnership with our Tribal Nations, will help move us closer to ending this epidemic of violence in Arizona.”
The 21-member committee will include members of law enforcement, Arizona Native American tribes, and family members of murdered and missing girls and women in addition to victim advocates.
That group will tackle an issue that comes with alarming statistics. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, some communities in the U.S. have a murder rate of indigenous women that is 10 times the national average. The press release also notes that more than four in five American Indian and Alaska Native women have experienced violence in their lifetime.
“In some tribal communities American Indian women face murder rates 10 times the national rate, yet, there is little to no data to show what exactly is happening,” said Sen. Victoria Steele of District 9. “We can’t allow our Native sisters to just disappear at this rate and not draw attention to it. Today, we are taking action by shedding light on this issue and finally giving it the attention it deserves.”
Ducey said the crisis has been going on for “far too long.”
“So many families have been subjected to the grief and pain of losing a loved one who was killed or sadly vanished,” he said in the release. “Today, Arizona says ‘no more.’ My compassion and thanks go out to these families and advocates involved in leading this fight for answers, action and justice.”
Information provided by the Governor’s Office