According to figures issued by the US Census Board in 2008 by the year 2050 they expect that 30% of the total population will be Hispanic. According to the National Crime Victimization Survey (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2004) one in six females over the age of 13 in the US are victims of sexual assault or rape at the hands of an acquaintance. That means if you take the Census predictions into account by the time 2050 rolls around the number of Latinas who will have experienced some form of sexual violence would reach 10.8 million.
Facts about Latinas and Sexual Violence
A 2011 study conducted by American Association of University Women found that a large proportion of girls 13-17 who were of Latin descent or were Latin born reported that they had stopped participating in sporting and school activities at some point because of peer initiated sexual harassment.
Married Latinas are far less likely to define a forced sexual encounter with a spouse or partner as rape and many instead see it as their “duty.”
Recent immigrant Latinas are the most vulnerable to sexual abuse as they tend to rely on employers for their livelihood and have yet to develop the social connections to help them understand their rights in the workplace and their rights under immigration law.
The most vulnerable of all workers to sexual violence are female farm workers, many of whom are not legal immigrants and who live in fear of deportation if they do not comply with their employers demands on every level.
The Challenges Agencies Face when Dealing with Sexual Violence Against Latinas
Although there are a growing number of centers and agencies that offer help and counseling to women who have been abused in the workplace many of them face huge challenges when it comes to effectively assisting Latinas. A lack of properly translated materials and a lack of bilingual staff can affect their ability to provide full support as can a lack of staff members familiar with the nuances of Latin American culture, especially in relation to family dynamics.
Fortunately many agencies are recognizing these problems and taking steps to address them in an effective manner. Those efforts are being spearheaded in part by the National Network to End Violence Against Immigrant Women. You can learn more about their work by visiting their official website here.