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Racism, Sexism and how they affect Aboriginal women’s health


The consequences of the Indian Act and the residential schools, then the ‘Sixties scoop’ have been proven to be very harmful to Aboriginal women and their health, they still exist today but solutions are slowly being created. The majority of scholarly literature agrees that Aboriginal women have become the most marginalized group in Canada. Additionally, social health determinants that impact health such as social exclusion, race, childhood, gender and Indian status. Therefore, women’s health is affected by the latter health determinants, especially gender and race, since they are Aboriginal, having been subject to racist policies for decades as well as negative stereotypes, and they are women, which makes puts them more at-risk for sexual harassment, abuse and sexist behaviours. These negative stereotypes, in turn, affect their treatment and perception in the Canadian healthcare system, leading them to be categorized as substance abusers by many health practitioners and dismissing their illnesses as being symptoms of substance abuse. (Kubik, Bourassa & Hampton, 2009, p. 20)

To reflect just how dire Aboriginal women’s situation is, a study on street prostitution and violence has been taken. In this study, which collected as many street prostitutes as they could contact and agree to the study, Aboriginal women are overrepresented in their sample. This study finds that the overwhelming majority of women working in street prostitution were physically and sexually abused as children, a very worrying sign, especially since Aboriginal women are overrepresented. The study also finds that Aboriginal women in street prostitution are not represented accurately in this sample, while they make up 7% of Vancouver’s population, one study estimate that as much as 70% of all street prostitutes are Aboriginal women. Additionally, the findings of Aboriginal women being way likelier to experience sexual and physical abuse as children than their non-Aboriginal counterparts is consistent with other studies. Statistics used by a different study showed that Aboriginal women were above the national average when it came to sexual abuse. Another outcome that is very worrying for Aboriginal women is violence and murder against them. More than a thousand Aboriginal women have gone missing or have been murdered in the past three decades (Do, 2014). They are also three times likelier than non-Aboriginal women to die from violence. (Farley, Lynne & Cotton, 2005, p. 245)