E va was found at dusk in late December , standing in an Albuquerque parking lot. She drove three hours, from her house outside Gallup, and arrived a few minutes after 1am to see Eva emerge from the juvenile holding area, quiet and hunched. Her cheeks and neck looked skeletal.
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In the National Congress of American Indians found that an estimated 40 percent of women who are victims of sex trafficking identify as American Indian, Alaska Native, or First Nations. Phoenix, Arizona — which has a large Native community — has also been identified as a major jurisdiction for trafficking for sexual exploitation by the US Department of Justice. Accordingly to Valaura Imus-Nahsonhoya, a Hopi expert on human trafficking in Indian country, targeting of Native women occurs for several reasons. The Navajo-Hopi Observer reports:. Why seek Natives? Sex traffickers prey upon young girls and women they perceive as vulnerable. The high rates of poverty and hardship in tribal communities; historical trauma and culture loss; homelessness and runaway youth; high rates of involvement with child welfare systems, including entry into the foster care system; exposure to violence in the home or community; drug and alcohol abuse; and low levels of law enforcement all add up to a community rich in targets for traffickers. Imus-Nahsonhoya says that she learned most of what she knows about trafficking from survivors of this degrading and often dangerous life.
Imagine growing up in an environment where it is only a matter of time before you experience some sort of sexual assault or violence. For most of us, that would seem absolutely unthinkable. Yet for Native American girls growing up on the reservation, this is their reality. It is a horrific fact that Native American women are 2. This is simply not okay.