The Legal System Has Failed Black Girls, Women, and Non-Binary Survivors of Violence

Following the airing of Lifetime’s six-part docuseries, “Surviving R. Kelly,” — which describes decades of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse he allegedly perpetrated against Black girls and women — many of Kelly’s fans and supporters continue to rally around the singer-songwriter and even place blame on his accusers for being “fast.”

This is not surprising. Studies have shown that Black girls, women, and non-binary people are hyper-vulnerable to abuse. About 22 percent of Black women in the United States have experienced rape. Forty percent will experience intimate partner violence in their lifetime. And Black women are killed at a higher rate than any other group of women. A 2015 survey of Black trans and non-binary individuals found that 53 percent have experienced sexual violence, and 56 percent have experienced domestic violence. At least 16 Black trans people were reportedly murdered in 2018 alone.

Read more at the ACLU

Parents Must Shut Down the School-to-Prison Pipeline

When Zakiya Sankara-Jabar’s son was repeatedly suspended from his Pre-K program, she was shocked at first. The preschool kept calling her to say her son was in trouble for biting other students or having trouble transitioning from one activity to another. In Zakiya’s view, “They made normal three-year-old behavior sound very pathologized and abnormal.” Eventually, she had to withdraw her son from the school but he was subsequently suspended and expelled at other preschools.

Zakiya had to drop out of college to care for her son but before she did, she used the college’s library services to search for articles on the experiences of black boys in public education. She quickly learned that her family’s experiences were not unusual. “I suddenly realized that I wasn’t a bad parent and my son wasn’t abnormal. This was something larger, more societal, that was happening to African American parents.”

It turns out that the school-to-prison pipeline starts in Pre-K, especially for black boys. Suspensions are the beginning of the school-to-prison pipeline, which refers to harsh and racially inequitable school discipline policies that push students out of school, onto the street, and eventually into the criminal justice system. Boys of color and those with special needs are especially impacted but girls of color also face discriminatory discipline.

Read more at The American Prospect 

How Societies View Black Girls and Women

Black women and black girls are disproportionately subject to prejudices, stereotypes and violence on an ongoing basis.

Social activist Lovelyn Nwadeyi, Soul City Institute CEO Lebo Ramafoko and Sunday Times lifestyle editor Pearl Tsotetsi share their experiences of surviving the world in a black woman’s body with Talk Radio 702 host Eusebius McKaiser.

The discussion refers to a ground-breaking study on the erasure of black girls’ childhood, which puts data behind the lived realities of many black women.

Learn more at EWN. 

Women and Girls of Color Need Justice Too

A growing number of individuals have expressed support for U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ harmful Title IX proposed rules on sexual harassment, including sexual assault, in schools by pitting the rights of sexual assault survivors against efforts to further racial justice.

By doing this, these individuals—often white, self-identified feminists or conservative men—erase the experiences of survivors of color, particularly Black women and girls, who are frequently disbelieved and blamed when reporting sexual assault, pressured to stay silent about their assaults, and pushed into the criminal justice system (referred to as the “sexual abuse-to-prison pipeline”).

As survivor-advocates of color working at the intersections of racial and gender justice, we understand that women and girls of color are disproportionately targeted for sexual harassment and assault in schools. The blatant disregard for the lives of survivors of color is a common and misguided tactic that creates a false choice between protecting survivors and protecting against racially biased disciplinary practices.

Read more at ReWire

‘Surviving R. Kelly’ sheds light on bigger issue: Black women raped at higher rates but report less

Survivor after survivor say they were sexually assaulted by R&B singer R. Kelly, many of them as teenagers, in the Lifetime documentary “Surviving R. Kelly.”

“Maybe they stayed in silence because they didn’t feel like they had a way out,” said Teresa Stafford of the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center.

Stafford watched the three-part series and says the women’s stories are all too familiar.

“We actually see a lot of young ladies that have been, you know, groomed, into believing that somebody loves and cares for them and then the person is actually taking advantage of them and victimizing them and causing harm to them,” Stafford said.

Stafford says this is especially true within the black community.

Read more at WCPO. 

‘Surviving R. Kelly’ Spurs Change, But Years Of Activism By Women Of Color Made It Possible

Lifetime, an American TV network known for programs like “Dance Moms” and “Project Runway,” saw its highest ratings in two years when it aired “Surviving R. Kelly,” an astonishing six-part docuseries featuring interviews with women who alleged they experienced abuse at the hands of the hip hop star.

An average of 2.1 million people tuned in to watch the show, and according to a Twitter representative, more than 2.6 million people with accounts tweeted about R. Kelly between Jan. 3 (the series’ premiere) and Jan. 7.

Since then, nonprofits and law enforcement agencies have reported concrete signs of change. The National Sexual Assault Hotline, which is operated by RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, told HuffPost that the service experienced a 20 percent surge in calls during the program’s air dates.

Read more at the Huffington Post

Native American Women Are Disappearing. Why Is Nothing Being Done?

Native American women and girls are vanishing across the county. Just last year, the FBI reported 633 open missing persons cases for Native American women. According to statistics, they are also 10 times more likely to be murdered than non-Native Americans. The families of victims say their communities are outraged, but law enforcement isn’t taking action. Matter of Fact Correspondent Leone Lakhani tells some of their stories.

Learn more at WBPF. 

Start From the Ground Up: Increasing Support for Girls of Color

This is a webinar focused around the breakthrough research we undertook with partners Frontline Solutions and CLASP to better understand the landscape of philanthropy’s current investment in girls of color and steps we may take in substantially increasing this investment.

We encourage you to stay in touch with G4GC’s upcoming developments for 2019 by signing up for our newsletter.

Link to webinar (starts at the 6 minute mark)

Link to presentation 

Smashing the patriarchy: leading and learning from girl activists

It is so often in this world that decisions are made about girls without their input, from who they marry to whether they receive an education, to what does and doesn’t happen to their bodies. Last month With and For Girls brought together 12 activists from Kenya, Guatemala, Palestine, Nicaragua, Poland, Barbados, Israel, Romania, USA and Nepal to put on a closing plenary at the Human Rights Funders Network conference in Mexico City.
Girls all around the world are leading human rights movements toward a safer and more equal world. They work tirelessly and are under-recognised, under-estimated and underfunded.

Watch a video of this convening here

Girls to the Front: A snapshot of girl-led organizing

It’s tough being a girl. All over the world, girls face multiple layers of discrimination: for being female, for being young and for the other multiple identities that define them, such as race, class, sexual orientation and gender identity. In the face of these challenges, girls worldwide are organising and joining forces to have their agency and autonomy recognised, respected and celebrated. Who better to know what girls need than girls themselves?

Girls and their organisations and/or initiatives are important to social movements. Mama Cash and FRIDA | The Young Feminist Fund, two women’s funds long committed to supporting girls and their organising, decided to commission a research study to find out more about how girls are organising across the world. This participatory, feminist, intersectional research placed girls at the centre, making them partners of the study. The participation of Girl Advisors— activists who hail from five different countries and have diverse backgrounds, profiles and
skills– brought invaluable input to the table.

The research used in-depth interviews and an online questionnaire, as well as an exhaustive desk review to collect data from girl-led groups and organisations, girl-centred organisations and the stakeholders that support them at different levels. This is an exciting opportunity to spotlight how girl-led organising takes place and how funders can provide flexible support that responds to the needs of girls and their organising.

Read more of the Girls to the Front report here