How do you fight sexual violence against indigenous women?
21-year-old Lakota woman Patty Stein has some ideas.
Stein holds a black belt in Hapkido (a Korean martial art), and has trained and competed in Taekwondo for nine years.
Until recently, she was putting her skills to use in Egypt as a volunteer with Tahrir Bodyguard, an organization that offers self-defense classes to help women protect themselves from sexual assault in Cairo, Kate Allen reports in the Toronto Star.
But while she was there, she realized that indigenous women in North America needed protection from assault too.
So Stein started a crowdfunding campaign called Arming Sisters ("not with weapons, but with the courage and knowledge to fight back," according to the website).
The money she raises will fund a traveling women's self defense course that will visit 20 reserves across the U.S. and Canada this summer (Stein was born and raised in small town North Dakota).
At each stop, Stein will teach two six-hour self-defense courses, with a focus on both mental and physical defense: "Awareness, mentality, and sharing stories of strength will cover the first two hours, followed by four hours of application," the website says.
Stein originally went to Egypt in 2008 with one of her martial arts coaches, and "fell in love with the country." She started working with Tahrir Bodyguard recently, using her martial arts background to help women learn to defend themselves.
But the realization that people back home needed her help came to her while she was teaching a class.
As a survivor of sexual assault herself and a Lakota woman, Stein knows that First Nations women are at risk.
According to Canadian studies, sexual assault is much more prevalent in the North, where there are many more Aboriginal women, than it is in the rest of Canada.
A 2001 study found that the rate of sexual assault in Nunavut was 96.1 for every 10,000 people, compared to 7.8 in every 10,000 people in the whole of Canada.
So far, Stein's campaign has raised a little over $4,000 of its $25,000 goal. You can visit the IndieGoGo page to contribute or check in on her progress.
Via The Toronto Star