In the fifth in a series on the lives of ordinary women behind extraordinary stories, this month's Forgotten Women examines how terrifyingly deep the international crisis of violence against indigenous women runs

It is North America’s dark, open secret that native women are far more likely to be raped, and far more likely to be murdered.

No justice. That is the constant cry from friends and families of victims as countless cases are left unresolved and ignored.

Marita Growing Thunder, a 19-year-old murdered and missing indigenous women (MMIW) activist from Montana, has experienced this lack of justice – five times.

In the early 2000s, Marita’s aunt died. Although Yvonne’s death was officially recorded as an overdose, Marita claims her aunt had been beaten. “All her fingernails had been pulled out. She was unrecognisable when we put her in the coffin. Her body was black and blue and swollen.”
Marita also suggests there were four unrelated deaths in her family which police did not investigate. Her father’s aunt, Henry, her grandfather’s sister, Shirley K, and two female cousins that her mother grew up with.

This is not a problem with one cause, nor is it one that is going away. Therefore any attempt to move towards a solution must recognise how terrifyingly deep the international crisis of MMIW runs.

Despite thousands of women going missing every year, and thousands being raped over their lifetimes, startlingly few statistics are available.

Given the complicated and tense mesh of federal, state and tribal law – as well as entrenched racism towards indigenous people across North America – cases continue to fall through the cracks…

Read the rest of the story at The Independent