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Handbook Teaches Native Women About Their Right To Access Morning After Pill


April is sexual assault awareness month, and a Native advocacy group is handing out free copies of a new booklet on reservations around the country called “What To Do When You’re Raped: An ABC Handbook for Native Girls.”           

The handbook teaches Native girls and women what to do if they’re sexually assaulted. Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Director and Comanche member Charon Esetoyer says it’s important for Native women to know that in October 2015 Indian Health Services passed a policy requiring all their clinics to offer the Morning After Pill. Esetoyer says girls need cheap, easy access to after-the-fact contraceptives.

“I call it the layers, you know, like an onion,” she says. “You know, all these layers of trauma after you’ve been sexually assaulted. And there’s nothing worse than having to wait. And you’re worrying, oh, am I pregnant or not. And you’re waiting until your next period. You know, let’s just peel that layer right off.”

Esetoyer says around 90 percent of Native women have been sexually assaulted in their life, but most go unreported. She says the illustrated handbook gives step-by-step instructions.

“Instead of just panicking, here are tasks you need to do,” she says. “Get into the emergency room, report it to law enforcement. Get some emergency contraceptive. If they don’t have it, what do I do then? Okay, I gotta, I gotta get some together, I got to get to town. I don’t have a car, I got to have somebody take me, I need gas money, etcetera.”

Esetoyer says the book can be ordered or downloaded at the group’s website nativeshop.org.

Melodie Edwards is the host and producer of WPM's award-winning podcast The Modern West. Her Ghost Town(ing) series looks at rural despair and resilience through the lens of her hometown of Walden, Colorado. She has been a radio reporter at WPM since 2013, covering topics from wildlife to Native American issues to agriculture.
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