YWCA USA Releases We Still Deserve Safety: Renewing the Call to End the Criminalization of Women and Girls of Color Report

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YWCA USA Releases We Still Deserve Safety: Renewing the Call to End the Criminalization of Women and Girls of Color Report

For Immediate Release:
Yolanda Raine
Senior Director, Marketing and Communications

Report paints a disturbing picture of racial profiling, violence, and criminalization of women and girls of color and outlines actions all people can take to stand for justice

Washington, D.C. (September 15, 2020) – Today, YWCA USA released We Still Deserve Safety: Renewing the Call to End the Criminalization of Women and Girls of Color — an update to We Deserve Safety, YWCA’s 2017 report that documented the unique ways in which women and girls of color experience racial profiling and criminalization. Alarmed by the overwhelmingly gendered narrative that emerged this summer as our nation grapples with a long-overdue reckoning with racial violence by police against people of color, YWCA undertook a media review over a three-year period (2017 – 2020) to examine the extent to which women and girls of color continue to be criminalized and racially profiled by law enforcement.

We Still Deserve Safety highlights 110 incidents across 29 states, the District of Columbia, and 1 U.S. territory, painting a disturbing picture of the gendered racial profiling, violence, and criminalization that women and girls of color continue to experience, including:

  • Alarming incidents of police violence and excessive use of force against women of color— including pinning women down by kneeling on or pressing a baton on their necks—leading to physical injuries and death.
  • Arrests and physical restraint of girls of color as young as six years of age, and shocking incidents of physical violence by school resource officers against girls of color in school settings.
  • Violent treatment of pregnant women of color and mothers by law enforcement agents, and state punishment of women of color who exercise self-defense against gender-based violence.
  • Continued use of racial profiling, invasive body searches, and sexual violence against women of color, with profoundly harmful impacts to their physical and emotional health.
  • Heightened criminalization and mistreatment of migrant women of color seeking entry to the United States, particularly at the U.S. border with Mexico.

“As the nation faces a national reckoning on racial justice, women and girls of color like Breonna Taylor, and the deaths of so many others including the stories of women and girls shared in this report are often forgotten,” said Alejandra Y. Castillo, CEO, YWCA USA. “Women and girls of color face the same level of violence and death rate at the hands of authoritarians but don’t seem to spark the same level of global outrage as the killings of men or boys of color. It is up to all people to work together until justice exists for all people.

This report details profoundly disturbing experiences of violence, death, racial profiling, harassment, and criminalization that women and girls of color routinely experience. It is imperative that policymakers at all levels, all members of the media, racial and social justice advocates, and community members implement the following recommendations to advance racial justice and safety measures that protect women and girls of color from harm by law enforcement, school resource officers, immigration authorities, and other state actors.

  • Expand narratives to ensure that the experiences of women and girls of color are known and addressed.
  • Declare racism and police violence a public health crisis.
  • Enact and enforce legislation, policies, and standards of conduct to end police violence, use of force, and abuse of women and girls of color.
  • Eliminate violence, abuse, and neglect of migrant women and girls by immigration authorities.
  • Increase accountability and transparency through independent investigation, training, and data collection

Additional racial justice and policy recommendations from YWCA USA can be found in Advancing Justice, Safety, & Accountability (2020), Civil Rights Coalition Letter on Federal Policing Priorities, Civil Rights Principles for Safe, Healthy, and Inclusive School Climates, Families Belong Together and Free, and We Deserve Safety.




YWCA USA is on a mission to eliminate racism, empower women, stand up for social justice, help families, and strengthen communities. We are one of the oldest and largest women’s organizations in the nation, serving over 2 million women, girls, and their families. YWCA has been at the forefront of the most pressing social movements for more than 160 years — from voting rights to civil rights, from affordable housing to pay equity, from violence prevention to health care reform.

Today, we combine programming and advocacy in order to generate institutional change in three key areas: racial justice and civil rights, empowerment and economic advancement of women and girls, and health and safety of women and girls.