Violence Against Women in Minnesota
last updated September 2012
Population of women:  2,688,465 (50.3%)[1]
Life expectancy of women:  82.4 (2005)[2]
Literacy rate (both genders): 94% (2003)[3]
Education - High school diploma or higher (25 yrs. and older): Women - 92.5%; Men - 91.6% (2011)[4]
Unemployment: Women 5.3%; Men 6.2% (August 2012)[5]
Females (16 yrs. and older) in labor force: 65.2% (August 2012)[6]
Gender Equality
The Minnesota Constitution was adopted on October 13, 1857, and generally revised on November 5, 1974. Article I, section 1 of the Minnesota Constitution states that the object of government is “the security, benefit and protection of the people, in whom all political power is inherent, together with the right to alter, modify or reform government whenever required by the public good.”
The Minnesota Constitution was written as a gender-neutral constitution, though women did not have the right to vote until 1920 with passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The constitutional text does not contain the words: “woman,” “women,” “female,” “gender,” or “sex.” Article I, section 2 provides: “No member of this state shall be disfranchised or deprived of any of the rights or privileges secured to any citizen thereof, unless by the law of the land or the judgment of his peers.” Moreover, Article I, section 7 provides: “No person shall be . . . deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.” 
Minnesota is an international leader in preventing and combating domestic violence. Women’s Advocates, Inc. in St. Paul opened one of the first shelters in the country for battered women and their children in 1974. The Minnesota Legislature passed the Domestic Abuse Act in 1979 and has amended it to make it stronger every year since then. Beginning in the early 1980’s the Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs in Duluth developed the “Duluth Model,” an evolving method for bringing communities together to end domestic violence which has been implemented internationally. . >>Learn more
Sexual assault is referred to as “criminal sexual conduct” under Minnesota law. The offense includes conduct that ranges from unwanted sexual contact, such as touching clothing that covers an intimate part of the body, to rape with a dangerous weapon. Criminal sexual conduct under Minnesota law also covers activities such as sex with a minor and incest. Sexual assault in all forms is a grave problem around the world, and Minnesota is no exception.  According to the 2007 report Costs of Sexual Violence in Minnesota, 61, 000 people in Minnesota were sexually assaulted in 2005; 80% of whom were female. >>Learn more
Sexual harassment is a type of sex discrimination involving “verbal or physical abuse of a sexual nature.” While sexual harassment often occurs in employment situations, under both Minnesota and federal law it may also occur in education, housing, and public accommodations and services. The Minnesota State Legislature has adopted a clear public policy against sex discrimination, explicitly including sexual harassment in the law. Minnesota law first recognized sexual harassment as a form of sex discrimination in the 1980 case of Continental Can Company v. State. >>Learn more
Sex Trafficking
Sex trafficking is a horrific problem internationally, nationally, and in Minnesota. The exact number of people who have been sexually exploited is not known, but in 2003 the FBI identified Minneapolis as one of 13 U.S. cities with a large concentration of child prostitution enterprises. Minnesota studies have found that 14-20% of homeless youth have engaged in survival sex. One study that included Minneapolis youth found that 44% of homeless lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth had been approached with money, shelter, food, or drugs in exchange for sex. The problem disproportionately affects indigenous women in Minnesota: in Hennepin County, Native American women were only 2.2% of the population yet 24% of the people on probation for prostitution were Native women. Although no reliable data exists for determining the number of people involved in sex trafficking in Minnesota or elsewhere, Minnesota is addressing this problem through tougher laws and more aggressive enforcement. >>Learn more


[1] 2011 Estimate, Minnesota Quick Facts, United States Census Bureau,
[2] McMurry, Martha, Life Expectancy Varies by Region, Minnesota State Demographic Center (July 2009),
[3] State and County Estimates of Low Literacy, National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education and Sciences (2003),
[4] Educational Attainment, 2011 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, U.S. Census Bureau,
[5] Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, unpublished data (September 2012),
[6] Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, unpublished data (September 2012),