Sexual Violence

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Quick Facts

  • Of API women, 23% experienced some form of contact sexual violence, 10% experienced completed or attempted rape, and 21% had non-contact unwanted sexual experiences during their lifetime.
    CDC: 2010-2012 NISVS Summary Report (2017)
  • 56% of Filipinas and 64% of Indian and Pakistani women had experienced sexual violence by an intimate in a study of 143 domestic violence survivors.
    Intimate Partner and Help-Seeking (2011)

Sexual violence is defined as any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances, or acts to traffic, or otherwise directed against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting, including but not limited to home and work.

WHO: Violence against Women: Sexual Violence (2002)

“I was told that because I couldn’t remember, I technically could not prove it was unwanted. I had to fight for an entire year to make it clear that there was something wrong with this situation.”

Stanford rape survivor: letter to her rapist (2015)

Excessive restrictions designed to control female sexuality are used to label women’s sexual expression as transgressions, to justify victim-blaming, and to mask the high prevalence and incidence of sexual violence. Violations include being forced to watch and imitate pornography, denying the right to choose or express a different sexual orientation, forced marriage, child marriage, marital rape, ‘corrective’ rape of lesbians, body modification and humiliation, cyber-stalking, mass rape in conflict zones, and more. In private and public spheres, sexual violence is carried out with impunity, with appallingly low conviction rates for rapists. Women and girls are overwhelmingly targeted for sexual violence; but boys, men, and LGBTQ individuals are also victimized.

Sexual violence is a critical issue that needs to be addressed in API communities because:

  • Child sexual abuse and adult assaults often stay undisclosed and/or denied proper help when disclosed
  • Compartmentalized services do not work for our communities
  • Immigrants and refugees can have traumatic histories of sexual violence
  • Advocate discomfort about sexual violence is a barrier to disclosure by victims/survivors
  • Identifying increased vulnerability to and risk of sexual violence informs prevention and intervention
“I grew up in a home where we were taught valuable lessons about not wasting money, not wasting time, not wasting an education. I am left with a wasted childhood.”

South Asian survivor of incestuous sexual abuse. The Children We Sacrifice, by Grace Poore (2000)

Of 160 API-serving domestic violence programs surveyed, 69% (111) report addressing sexual violence/sexual assault.

A-Z Advocacy Model Report (2017) 

Resources on Sexual Violence

The Children We Sacrifice, 2000

This documentary, produced by SHaKTI Productions, explores the universal crime of incestuous sexual abuse through the prism of South Asian experience.

Other Resources

RAINN sexual violence hotline
800-656-HOPE (4673) | Online chat 

Centers for Disease Control: The Lifetime Economic Burden of Rape among U.S. Adults (2017)

National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC): provides leadership in preventing and responding to sexual violence through collaboration, sharing and creating resources, and promoting research. The Resource Center Library contains a comprehensive selection of relevant and timely resources on sexual violence, prevention, and related topics

Know Your IX: a survivor and youth led organization that aims to empower students to end campus sexual and dating violence. Know Your IX provides resources for survivors and for friends and family

Partners for Prevention: UN Multi-country Study on Men and Violence in Asia and the Pacific (2013)

Vice President Biden’s letter to Stanford rape survivor (2016) via Buzzfeed