Girls, women of color face gendered racial profiling, criminalization

Girls, women of color face gendered racial profiling, criminalization

Girls and women of color in the United States are routinely subjected to racial profiling, criminalization, harassment, and violence at the hands of law enforcement, a report from YWCA USA finds.

A follow-up to a 2017 report, We Deserve Safety, the report, We Still Deserve Safety: Renewing the Call to End the Criminalization of Women and Girls of Color (49 pages, PDF), examined the gendered racial profiling and criminalization that girls and women of color continue to experience. Based on a media review over a three-year period stretching from 2017 to 2020, the study highlights a hundred and ten incidents across twenty-nine states, the District of Columbia, and one U.S. territory of gendered racial profiling and criminalization of, and the use of violence against, women and girls of color by law enforcement, school resource officers, immigration authorities, or other state actors. The incidents include arrests and physical restraint of girls as young as six as well as physical violence against female students of color by school resource officers; police violence and excessive use of force resulting in injury and death; the continued use of racial profiling, invasive body searches, and sexual violence; state-sanctioned punishment of women who exercise self-defense in gender-based violence situations; and heightened criminalization and mistreatment of migrant women of color.

To advance racial justice and safety measures that protect women and girls of color, the report calls on policy makers at all levels, members of the media, racial and social justice advocates, and community members to embrace narratives that include women and girls of color and ensure that their experiences are known and addressed; declare racism and police violence a public health crisis; enact and enforce legislation, policies, and standards of conduct aimed at ending police violence, the use of force, and the abuse of women and girls of color; eliminate violence against and the abuse and neglect of migrant women and girls by immigration authorities; and increase accountability and transparency through training and data collection. 

"As the nation faces a national reckoning on racial justice, women and girls of color like Breonna Taylor, and the deaths of so many others, including the stories of women and girls shared in this report, are often forgotten," said YWCA USA chief executive Alejandra Y. Castillo. "Women and girls of color face the same level of violence and death rate at the hands of authoritarians but don’t seem to spark the same level of global outrage as the killings of men or boys of color. It is up to all people to work together until justice exists for all people."

(Photo credit: Bob Simpson via Flickr)