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Call for inputs – Report on violence against indigenous women and girls

Issued by

Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls


21 April 2022

presented to

50th session of the Human Rights Council


Issued by Special Procedures


Women and children

Symbol Number



In the present report, submitted pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 41/17, the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Reem Alsalem, addresses the theme of violence against indigenous women and girls.



Since starting her three-year tenure, in August 2021, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Ms. Reem Alsalem, has identified some key and emerging thematic priorities she intends to focus on. The first of them is violence against indigenous women and girls, which will be the subject of her upcoming thematic report, to be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in its 50th session, in June 2022. 

Indigenous women and girls face complex and intersectional forms of violence, linked to patriarchal structures, racial and ethnic discrimination and mutually connected types of human rights violations – among others. They may face gender-based violence, including domestic violence, harmful traditional practices, sexual violence and femicide; whether originating in their own communities, as forms of control or punishment, or perpetrated by others in the context of the structural violence they face. For example, indigenous women have been reported to be significantly more likely to experience rape and sexual violence than non-indigenous women, a large number by non-indigenous men. Indigenous women have also historically experienced several types of violence perpetrated by State agents, including forced sterilizations.

Additionally, indigenous women and girls are particularly vulnerable to violence in the context of conflicts; and to violence connected to land grabbing, extractive industry’s activities and even to the impacts of climate change. They experience disproportionately high rates of trafficking, sexual violence, forced labor, forced disappearance, and other forms of violence while migrating. The Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants has emphasized the link between trafficking and social marginalization, which may put indigenous peoples, including indigenous women and girls, at risk. Indigenous women are also more at risk of incarceration than non-indigenous women in many countries.

Despite this increased risk of violence, indigenous women and girls face significant obstacles to access justice, either within their community or State institutions, due to discrimination, bias, fear of stigma, language barriers and re-victimization risks. Therefore, most of the violence against them results in impunity for perpetrators, and indigenous women and girls receive no remedies for the violence they experienced. They also suffer the consequences of intergenerational trauma that, left unaddressed, is transmitted to the following generations.

There is a clear recognition by international human rights law and standards of the need for an intersectional approach to the prevention and elimination of violence against indigenous women and girls. Article 22(2) of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples stipulates that States shall take measures, in conjunction with indigenous peoples, to ensure that indigenous women and children enjoy the full protection and guarantees against all forms of violence and discrimination. Further, the 1993 UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women highlights that States should condemn and take measures to eliminate violence against women and should avoid invoking tradition or religious considerations to avoid their obligations to do so.

In its General Recommendation No. 35 (2017) and its jurisprudence, the CEDAW Committee has confirmed that discrimination against women was inextricably linked to other factors that affected their lives, such as being indigenous, seeking asylum, being a refugee, internally displaced or stateless or their migration status. The Committee also acknowledged that gender-based violence could affect some women to different degrees, or in different ways, requiring appropriate legal and policy responses. Likewise, the Special Rapporteur on indigenous peoples has noted the structural violence that indigenous women and girls face, which is interlinked and mutually reinforcing with other forms of violence, and recommended that Member States develop a holistic approach to violence against women, based on the indivisibility and universality of all human rights, that addresses multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination.

In addition, in its resolution on violence against indigenous women and girls (A/HRC/32/L.28/Rev.1), the Human Rights Council has expressed that violence against indigenous women and girls has to be understood within the broader context of discrimination and exclusion to which indigenous peoples are exposed. The Council urged States to strongly condemn and eliminate violence against indigenous women and girls, including in harmful practices, and to take effective action to respond to violence against women and girls, including indigenous women and girls.


With this report, the Special Rapporteur intends to shed light on the specific manifestations of violence against indigenous women and girls that has in most cases extended across generations; to explore their connections to other human rights violations that impact indigenous peoples and women and girls in particular, including those related to migration, trafficking and the activities of extractive industries; and to provide guidance to States and other stakeholders on the measures needed to further prevent and combat violence against indigenous women and girls.

It seeks to look at violence that is perpetrated by different actors, whether State or non-State, including the private sector, intimate partners, law enforcement, armed groups, among others.

The Special Rapporteur kindly seeks the support of States, National Human Rights Institutions, civil society actors, international organizations, academics and other stakeholders to provide updated information on:

  1. The different manifestations of violence experienced by indigenous women and girls, whether perpetrated by members of their community or non-members, including but not limited to domestic violence; sexual harassment and violence at the workplace (including domestic work); sexual violence; harmful practices; violence in the context of conflict; trafficking in persons; violence in the context of migration; violence related to land grabbing and violations of land rights; violence against indigenous women human rights defenders or defenders of land rights; obstetric violence and violations of indigenous women and girls sexual and reproductive health and rights.
  2. Good practices and challenges on increasing indigenous women and girls’ access to effective mechanisms to prevent their exposure to violence as well as to assist and protect victims of violence in a comprehensive manner
  3. Good practices and challenges regarding the effective participation of women and girls that are at risk of violence or that have been subjected to violence in processes that affect their lives, including those that seek to protect them against violence.
  4. Good practices and challenges on indigenous women’s participation in transitional justice processes that address violence inflicted upon them, or in judicial communal or state systems more generally, as well as their access to effective reparations for past crimes committed against them.
  5. Disaggregated data on violence against indigenous women and girls, including on the perpetrators and their relationship to the victims.
  6. Any other issue of relevance.



National Human Rights Institutions

United Nations and other international organizations

NGOs and Civil Society Organizations


Individual submissions