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Black Women and Sexual Violence

LEIMERT PARK, CA – Supporters, speakers and performers gathered in Leimert Park on October 17th for the second annual “Standing for Black Girls” rally. The rally was hosted by the Women’s Leadership Project to show support and take action to help end sexual violence and rape culture against Black women.

Photo Credit: Celine Stevens

The Women’s Leadership Project was created to teach women of color in South LA high schools to learn how to advocate for themselves and others, provide education around sexual violence and assault, and sexual health.

Dr. Sikivu Hutchinson is the founder of the WLP and helped organize the rally, along with the students from various high schools who are also a part of the program.

She says the project works with Black and Latinx students across all sexual orientations, which has a prominent influence.

Hutchinson said that “often times, when there are discussions about sexual violence, queer, trans and non-binary youth who are of African descent are not really cared for, are not really foregrounded when it comes to intervention and prevention services and resources.”

Although the program includes all girls and women of color in schools, this Standing for Black Girls rally specifically focused on bringing attention and supporting the countless Black women who have dealt with these experiences.

Corinne Baptiste was another supporter present at the rally. She said rallies like this are vital because it reminds people that these things do happen to Black women, yet people tend to associate things like rape, sexual assault and violence with White women.

“There’s a lot of erasure that happens, even though the stats are outrageous for Black women,” Baptiste said.

Kimberly Ortiz is a high school student that has been a member of the WLP for three years. She thinks rallies like this are necessary to bring attention to these problems that affect women.

“A lot of people don’t talk about the stuff that we go through,” Ortiz said.

“The club I’m in, it’s mostly Black women. I was the only girl that was coming from a Mexican household, so I wanted to support them, and they are also very supportive of me, so I thought that was really important because I wanted to make sure that more people of my community was helping the Black community.”

That support is needed, especially given the poor statistics Black women continue to face when it comes to sexual assault and violence.

The National Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community reports that African American girls and women starting at age 12 and up experience higher rates of sexual assault and rape than White, Asian and Latinx girls, according to date from 2005 to 2010.

In the United States, 40 percent of confirmed sex trafficking survivors are Black, and one in four Black girls will be sexually abused before they turn 18.

Hutchinson covered various way that others could help Black women and girls who are dealing or have dealt with sexual violence and assault. She said that besides bringing attention and giving a space for women to share their experiences, the biggest way to make a change is through policy.

“Push forward policy that is going to lift up African-American girls when it comes to access to health care, access to therapy, access to housing.”

However, the program has been making moves to combat this and gain that support from policy makers.

LA County Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell was also present at the rally. She has met with the students apart of the WLP, heard their list of demands, and plans to help them reach their goals.

They plan to work with her office to bring wellbeing centers to South LA high schools, including schools like King Drew and Gardena High.

They are partnering with their district to work on bringing an on-site Planned Parenthood to provide students with reproductive resources.

They will work with the county to collect funds for Black women who are survivors or currently dealing with domestic violence and provide funds to those who are facing homelessness.

These are just the beginning of the WLP’s demands. The members will continue to work with their schools and policy makers to be sure their demands are met, so they can make a difference in the lives of Black girls and women in South LA.

Video Credit: Elle

Video Credit: Celine Stevens

By Celine Stevens Contributions from the Times Up Foundation and The National Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community. Audio Credit: Celine Stevens Photo Credits: Celine Stevens Video Credits: Celine Stevens and Elle EDUCATE YOURSELF Healthline: #MeToo Won't Succeed If We Don't Listen to Black Women Vox: Rape Culture Isn't a Myth. It's Real and it's Dangerous Women's Leadership Project

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