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The Dark Side of Oil: The Sex Trafficking of Indigenous Women

“One toxic byproduct of pipeline construction has largely escaped public scrutiny: sexual assaults linked to Line 3 workers.”-Jared Rodriguez

​The constriction of pipelines for oil and tar sands have become magnets for increased sexual assaults, rapes, deaths, and sex trafficking of indigenous women. The pipeline construction may boost the economy of states, like Minnesota, but it also traumatizes the communities that are in proximity of the ‘man camps’ that are built to house transient pipeline’s workers until the project is completed. In general, pipelines are built in rural or secluded areas, many of these areas are on Native American reservations. The latest pipeline, Line 3, was built through the Fond du Lac Reservations in Minnesota. The Fond du Lac Reservation is home to the Ojibwe tribe and where all the wild rice is grown in the United States.

The presence of Enbridge’s Line 3 workers and contractors has caused the sexual assault cases to spike in the Northern Minnesota area, these victims seek protection from their aggressors in shelters and help from sexual assault advocates. In February and June, 4 Enbridge pipeline contractors were charged with sex trafficking women from Minnesota with the intent of trafficking them through the man camps along the 337- mile-long pipeline route. The sexual trauma and trafficking of indigenous women are not a singular incident that happened in Minnesota but happens in any state that approves permits for building pipelines. The ‘man camps’ built by pipeline companies has contributed to the almost 6,000 missing or murdered indigenous women in the United States.

The cost of our oil should never be at the cost of a life or safety of women. 

The presence of Embridge’s pipeline project has increased sexual assault cases in Northern Minnesota with victims seeking help from shelters and sexual assault advocates.

Storyteller, innovative thinker, and aspiring women's and family health advocate; Whitney Keitt is pursuing her passion of being an activist for change in her commuity. She graduated from Savannah State University with a Masters of Business Administration in December 2019. Whitney is pursuing her Master's of Public Administration and will graduate in December 2021. Growing up in Savannah, Whitney learned leadership skills and innovative thinking as a Girl Scout. She recognized her love of storytelling and creativity through her exposure to museums and theaters. Whitney's leadership skills, innovative thinking, and creative passion manifested into innovative professional positions. She has held positions as a senior tour guide at a historical site, social media strategist for her local farmers market, and project coordinator for an educational teaching program funded through the National Science Foundation.
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