State of Safety for Asian American and Pacific Islander Women in the US: New Report by The National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum, in Partnership With The Korean American Community Foundation &Asian American Foundation Forum
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) released a groundbreaking survey spotlighting the experiences of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women with discrimination, harassment and violence.
“The most recent deaths of two Asian American women in New York, nearly one year after the Atlanta shootings, is yet another reminder of a wave of violence targeting not just Asian Americans, but Asian American women,” said NAPAWF’s executive director Sung Yeon Choimorrow. “This past year, our community has experienced a 339% jump in hate crimes – with AAPI women disproportionately being the targets of this hate and violence.”
The report, The State of Safety for Asian American and Pacific Islander Women in the U.S., surveyed over 2,400 AAPI women from every region of the country and across four ethnic subgroups: East Asian, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI).
Nearly 3 in 4 (74%) AAPI women report experiencing racism and/or discrimination over the past twelve months, with more than half (53%) reporting a stranger or someone they don’t know as the perpetrator. Almost half (47%) report incidents taking place in public, such as restaurants and shopping centers. Respondents also reported encountering incidents in familiar places where safety may be less of a concern including schools, healthcare facilities, workplaces, places of worship, and even their own neighborhood.
Additionally, almost 40% of AAPI women report experiencing sexual harassment in the past twelve months. “Although these experiences are shared across our diverse community, they are not the same for everyone — over half or 52% of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women reported experiencing sexual harassment, more than any other demographic subgroup,” said NAPAWF’s Research Director Dr. Drishti Pillai.
When asked about their safety in public spaces, over half (51%) of East Asian respondents said they felt less safe today than at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic — almost twenty points higher in comparison to 33% across other AAPI subgroups.
“The results of this survey are striking and far reaching. The climate of fear and anxiety created by persistent discrimination, harassment and violence is more than an issue of safety for AAPI women — it endangers their mental health, wellbeing, and happiness,” said Kyung B. Yoon, president of Korean American Community Foundation (KACF).
In a sobering reflection of the current state of safety for AAPI women, 71% of respondents report feeling anxious or stressed due to fear of discrimination, harassment, or violence. “This is not new or surprising for many of us,” said Choimorrow. “AAPI women have long endured misogyny and racism for centuries and these findings show how this history continues to bleed into our grim present.”
When asked about elected officials’ responses, 36% and 29% of AAPI women believe that the Biden administration and their local elected officials, respectively, have sufficiently addressed anti-AAPI hate and threats to their safety. However, the survey results revealed a path forward. Over 90% of AAPI women agree that elected officials need to better understand the experiences AAPI people have with discrimination, harassment and violence. Similarly, over 90% agreed that elected officials should act on that understanding by investing more resources in the communities most impacted by this hate.
“We applaud President Biden for bringing national attention to anti-Asian hate and violence in his first State of the Union address,” says Choimorrow. “And we look forward to continuing our work with the president and other elected officials to address its disproportionate impact on Asian American and Pacific Islander women.”
The Asian American Foundation (TAAF) helped fund the survey, seeking to support NAPAWF as it sheds much-needed light on the experiences of AAPI women today. “AAPI women everywhere are living with an unbelievable amount of anxiety and fear over our personal safety. Every time we step out in public — whether it’s at work, walking our kids to school, or shockingly, standing on our front steps — there’s a possibility that we’ll be targeted. To effectively end this crisis of hate, we first need to bring broader understanding and awareness to the scope of the problem, which is why TAAF is so proud to have partnered with NAPAWF in bringing this report to life. We look forward to continuing to work together to lift up the stories and experiences of AAPI women and pursue solutions that will finally foster a sense of belonging and prosperity for all AAPI communities,” said TAAF’s board member Sonal Shah.
A full copy of the report is available at: napawf.org/stateofsafety