News, On Campus

For C.A.R.E. Week, A GLBTQ Perspective On Sexual Violence

Over 60 percent of survivors of GLBTQ sexual assault are people of color, and the intersection between race and sexuality results in disproportionate levels of violence. One event during the Concerned About Rape Education Week explored this disparity.

On Tuesday, FACES and the GLBTQ Leadership Council (GLC) joined together to discuss the interactions between sexual violence, race, and sexual orientation as part of C.A.R.E. Week, which focuses on raising awareness around Boston College about sexual assault and intimate partner violence.

To begin, the panel showed a video, “Feminist or Womanist” by poet Staceyann Chin about the struggles she has witnessed and faced in society as both a lesbian and woman of color.She directed her tangible fury toward the stereotypes she wanted to break through. The panel selected a number of spoken word performances like this related to race, sexual orientation, and sexual abuse.

The issue of sexual violence is often viewed through a narrow lens, Anne Williams, one of the panelists and A&S ’17, said.

“We wanted to move the conversation beyond the traditional white, heterosexual narrative, and look at how having certain identities can come together and put certain people more at risk,” she said. “Queer people of color are often ignored in society, and we wanted to create a space that would highlight their particular struggles.”

The presentation first shed light upon the prevalence of sexual violence within the GLBTQ community. On average, one out of every eight lesbian women are raped by an intimate partner in their lifetime, compared to one out every 10 heterosexual women, the presentation stated. Additionally, one out of every five transgender individuals have become homeless because of their identity.

The panel also provided facts about the prevalence of sexual assault within minority races. On average, 17.7 percent of all white women report being raped, where as many as one-third of Native Americans or American Indians report being raped. Additionally, 18.8 percent of all African-American women report being raped in their lifetime. It is also included that for every conveyed rape of an African-American woman, 15 are left unreported.

The panelists researched the intersection of race and sexual orientation within sexual assaults. Of GLBTQ survivors of sexual assault, 62 percent are people of color. Additionally, 70.7 percent of African American GLBTQ survivors experienced physical violence in intimate partner relationships. The panelists questioned why sexual assault is underreported for minority groups and members of the GLBTQ community.

Cultural norms and religious practices may cause lack of reporting within these communities, the panelists said. Also, a lack of trust in authorities and fear of perpetuating negative stereotypes drive the silence on sexual assault among minority races and the GLBTQ community. The lack of protection for the GLBTQ community within schools causes dropouts, leading to a lack of education playing a role in sexual violence. Lower incomes and socioeconomic classes may create a feeling of dependency on a partner, causing a lack of reporting, the panelists asserted. Finally, they said the absence of government protection for both minority groups has led to a lack of efficacy when reporting on sexual assault.

“I think that what BC can do to reduce sexual violence is to continue to give talks and lectures on this topic,” Brian Kouassi, a panelist and A&S ’17, said. “By continuing this conversation and the encouraging the education of the community, we want everyone to know that sexual violence isn’t something that we as students will stand by and allow to happen on this campus.”

Featured Image by Arthur Bailin / Heights Editor

March 26, 2015