This groundbreaking survey spotlights Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) women’s experiences with discrimination, harassment, and violence amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and one year since the mass shootings in Atlanta that claimed the lives of six Asian American women.
Hate incidents against Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders have risen sharply since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. AANHPI women face a disproportionate burden of anti-AANHPI hate with 62% of all national hate incidents being reported by AANHPI women.
The racialized misogyny faced by AANHPI women is not limited to hate incidents, but also includes experiences with different forms of harassment. AANHPI women are continuously fetishized, exoticized, and objectified through hyper-sexualization, affecting the racialized, gendered, and sexualized violence AANHPI women experience, historically and now. Even prior to the pandemic, AANHPI women experienced a great deal of violence and discrimination at the intersection of race, ethnicity, gender, immigration status, and socioeconomic class, among many other factors.Briefing
The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) and Senator Tammy Duckworth hosted a community briefing and timely conversation on the state of safety for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) women on March 30.
About the Study
NAPAWF’s survey sample comprised 2,414 adult women residing in the United States who self-identify as Asian American, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander. Due to the relatively small incidence rate of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (NHPI) in the population, most nationally representative surveys do not adequately sample the NHPI community, further making their lived experiences invisible. Our study oversampled NHPIs so that the community’s experiences with discrimination, harassment, and violence could be properly documented (all findings are appropriately weighted to be nationally representative).
The survey, conducted in January and February 2022, was offered both online and via phone in English, Hindi, Korean, Mandarin, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.
Nearly 3 in 4 (74%) AANHPI 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 AANHPI 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.
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 AANHPI subgroups. In a sobering reflection of the current state of safety for AANHPI women, 71% of respondents report feeling anxious or stressed due to fear of discrimination, harassment, or violence.Policy Recommendations
Racism intertwined with misogyny continues to be a part of the lives of AANHPI women, and the pandemic merely laid bare what went unnoticed before. We call for systemic changes to understand, address, and end these hate incidents and discrimination based on racism and xenophobia.
Culturally-Competent and Language Accessible Services
AANHPIs face significant language and cultural barriers, due to the high percentage of immigrants. These barriers are higher in geographic areas with newer and rapidly growing AANHPI populations. Regardless of their ability to speak English, victims and survivors of race and gender-based violence should have access to in-language, culturally competent, and holistic services, such as in employment, housing, and health care. Investments are needed in trusted community partners to directly provide and help connect women to these services.
Resources to Local Communities and Community-Based Organizations
The pandemic has exacerbated existing structural inequalities harming the well-being of AANHPI women and communities, from high rates of workplace harassment in low wage and socially isolated industries to compromised access to health care due to immigration restrictions and language barriers. After decades of underinvestment, federal, state, and local budgets should prioritize and support AANHPI women and communities by centering equity in their annual budget cycles.
AANHPIs are an extremely diverse population, comprising more than 50 ethnic subgroups and 100 languages and dialects. Yet, publicly reported data on AANHPIs are rarely disaggregated or inclusive. Instead, the “model minority” myth has cast a shadow over the AANHPI community for decades, minimizing the effects of structural racism and sexism on women of color and erasing the unique struggles of a large and diverse population. Accurate and disaggregated data collection is needed to identify key disparities within the AANHPI community and allocate resources to those most in need.
Even before the pandemic, AANHPI women comprised a disproportionately high share of the low-wage workforce, and immigrant AANHPI women in particular were especially vulnerable to workplace sexual harassment and violence. Businesses, which include workplaces, are also the most common sites of violence or discrimination for Southeast Asian, South Asian, and multiracial Asian women. Government agencies with the appropriate jurisdiction must enforce the civil rights and labor protections that prohibit workplace discrimination and harassment on the basis of race or gender.About
Pillai, Drishti & Lindsey, Alyssa (2022). The State of Safety for Asian American and Pacific Islander Women in the U.S. National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, Washington, DC.
This work was made possible with support from:
The Asian American Foundation (TAAF) – To serve the Asian American and Pacific Islander community in their pursuit of belonging and prosperity that is free from discrimination, slander, and violence.
Korean American Community Foundation (KACF) – To transform and empower communities through philanthropy, volunteerism, and inter-community bridge building. KACF pursues these goals through grant making that promotes self-sufficiency for the underserved and under-resourced, through raising awareness of needs and issues, and by fostering a culture of giving.