Kirkus Reviews: The Beginning and End of Rape

A blunt, trenchant exposé on the history and impact of sexual violence on indigenous tribal nations.

The Beginning and End of Rape (Sarah Deer)For more than two decades, MacArthur Fellow Deer (Law/William Mitchell Coll. of Law; co-editor: Sharing Our Stories of Survival: Native Women Surviving Violence, 2007) has been an activist for sexual and domestic violence survivors in Native American communities. The vast knowledge and shrewd assessment skills she brings to this book give the issue the acknowledgment it desperately deserves. Though averse to calling the rape of American Indian women an “epidemic,” a moniker she feels depoliticizes it, the author views the harrowing matter as a direct result of colonialism. Though only one issue of many daunting tribal governments today, she writes, the sexual assault of native women is an atrocity historically plaguing Indian tribes, and it should rightly be deemed a “crime against humanity.” As a member of the Muscogee nation, Deer imparts passion and resolve into chapters condemning rampant criminal impunity via federal laws that disregard the framework of tribal sovereignty, discussing the conundrum of sex trafficking, and how and why contemporary feminist theory fails to wholly address the situation at large. She then looks beyond the statistical data delivered in early chapters to propose diverse reform efforts that address victims’ needs and legal rights. A particularly humbling section focusing on the journey of an imprisoned rape survivor puts a human face on the crisis and personalizes it beyond hard facts and disquieting details. While Deer maintains that these dire acts of violence form complex legal and humanitarian complications with no elementary resolutions, she offers a variety of viable, proactive, and creative solutions and reformative proposals in an effort to rectify what she believes has become a “seemingly hopeless reality.”

An incisive and imperative academic study.

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Published in: Kirkus Reviews