WINDOW ROCK – On April 5, Navajo Nation First Lady Phefelia Nez and Second Lady Dottie Lizer joined Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and advocacy groups in proclaiming the month of April as “Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Awareness Month.” Council Delegates Amber Kanazbah Crotty and Charlaine Tso of the 24th Navajo Nation Council also attended the signing ceremony and voiced their support for the proclamation and for bringing an end to sexual assaults and harassment on the Navajo Nation.
The proclamation, signed at the Office of the President and Vice President, recognizes the devastating impact that sexual assault and sexual harassment has on Navajo people and recognizes that the crimes of rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment cause undeniable and ongoing harm to Diné families and communities. “Sexual assault and harassment impact far too many of our Native women. It’s important that we support one another, especially when an accusation is made – it’s critical that we address and investigate those situations to their fullest extent,” said First Lady Nez.
According to Proclamation:
- The Bureau of Indian Health Service reports that at least 1 in 4 Navajo children experience some form of sexual abuse;
- The Navajo Nation High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that 1 in 10 girls and 1 in 20 boys surveyed had been physically forced to have sex against their will;
- Crimes of rape accounts for a large percentage of all violent crimes reported to Navajo Nation law enforcement, with an average of 1 new case reported every day;
- A survey conducted by the National Institute of Justice found that more than 1 in 2 (56.1%) Native women and more than 1 in 4 men have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime; and
- Navajo children, women, and LGBTQI/Two-Spirit are at increased risk for victimization and harm due to sexual harassment and violence.
Sexual Assault and Harassment Awareness Month calls on all community members to help prevent sexual violence and support survivors of sexual assault by promoting the values of healthy relationships, equality, and respect. The Proclamation directs Executive Branch Divisions, Departments, and Programs to implement sexual harassment training for all employees. OPVP joins advocates and communities across the Navajo Nation in acting to prevent sexual violence, and Diné citizens to recognize each day of the year as an opportunity to create change and foster hozhó for the future.