AAPI Heritage Month

Community Conversation: Data Shows Asian American Women Experience More Targeted Hate Than Men

A new study is sparking discussion and awareness of the disproportionate experiences AAPI women are facing

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As we wrap up Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we're continuing to shine a light on the uptick in racism and discrimination toward the Asian American community.

Over the past year, there's been a stark increase in attacks and discrimination against Asian Americans since the pandemic began.

The reporting forum Stop AAPI Hate released a national report this month, examining incidents that took place over roughly a year during the coronavirus pandemic. It revealed that the number of incidents reported surged to more than 6,600 from March 2020 to March 2021.

New data also shows some startling new details when it comes to the effect on Asian American women.

AAPI women are twice as likely to report experiencing a targeted hate incident than men, according to a new report released this month in a collaboration between the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) and Stop AAPI Hate.

Click here to read the report's key findings.

Hate incidents include verbal harassment, avoidance/shunning, being coughed at/spat on, physical assault, workplace discrimination, vandalism, refusal of service or getting barred from an establishment or transport, and online harassment. Asian American women reported race, ethnicity and gender as the reasons they experienced hate incidents.

“I think it has to do with some of the stereotypes that exist about Asian American women. That we won’t fight back, that we are quiet and submissive, docile types. So that goes into the calculation of people who instigate these instances to pick on women, because the chances of us fighting back – in their head – is much less, that we are more vulnerable,” said Sung Yeon Choimorrow, executive director for NAPAWF.

Choimorrow spoke to NBC 5’s Alanna Quillen on their efforts to raise awareness.

“From the get-go, we knew that women and elderly were being targeted much more. From very early on, it was very clear that especially women were being targeted by strangers in public places. And that is frankly one of the scariest things that you can live with,” said Choimorrow. “When you leave your house, especially as women, you worry about your safety – and coming home safely at the end of the day is a big goal for us. To have this added layer of this target on our backs because we are Asian American really became stressful for many in our community."

The new data also comes on the heels of NAPAWF’s landmark study on the priorities and perspectives of AAPI women as one of the country’s fastest-growing electorates.

“We have done the largest polling of Asian American and Pacific Islander women voters in this past election. About 78% of them have said that racism impacts them in some shape or form. And 55% report that they have experienced a racial incident directly in the last three to four months,” said Choimorrow.

The Atlanta spa shooting that killed six Asian women sparked a national conversation, which became amplified when the shooter told investigators he had a sex addiction and targeted the spas because it was a "temptation wanted to eliminate."

Choimorrow said these types of stereotypes date back more than 100 years.

“When you look at the page act of 1875 – Congress passed a law to Asians migrating to the United States. They specifically excluded women because we were perceived to be prostitutes,” she said. “This is the reason Congress banned women from Asia, it was because that we were coming here to be ‘prostitutes.’ And so from the foundation of when Asian American women started our lives here in the US, that’s how we’ve been seen and perceived.”

NAPAWF is hoping to break these types of stigmas for AAPI women. However, Choimorrow said they can’t do that alone.

“It starts with acknowledgment and knowing. It’s really about, what are you going to do about it now?” she said. “I really challenge people to think about their notions and biases when they look at Asian American women and when they interact with Asian American women. We do not want to be hyper-visible in this way that really dehumanizes us. We want to be seen as individuals.”

To hear more from this community conversation, tune into NBC 5 First at Four or click the video player above.

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