Sexual Violence against Indigenous Women: Policies, Human Rights and the Myth of Development

Eren Cervantes-Altamirano


This paper addresses issues regarding the definition of sexual violence in the context of Canada’s development discourse in the Third World vis-à-vis the domestic experiences of Indigenous women. Despite the fact that sexual violence is often defined as rape or unwanted sexual contact, the author argues that Indigenous female victims of sexual violence are strongly influenced by other systems of oppression. Systems like the coloniality of power, a term coined by Anibal Quijano, the coloniality of gender, a term best explored in the works of Maria Lugones, capitalism, heteropatriarchy and racism, among others, should be considered when discussing women of colour’s experiences of sexual violence. Hence, the notion of sexual violence purely as rape further marginalizes women of colour, including Indigenous women. Through the notion of intersectionality (Crenshaw 1991), this article aims to produce change towards redefining sexual violence in a way that better reflects the experiences of women of colour, while challenging systemic oppression.

KEYWORDS: Sexual violence, Indigenous women, Development, Policy, Intersectionality, Coloniality 

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