Criminalization of Girls who Experience Sexual Violence
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, April 10, 2023
New “Abuse to Prison Pipeline” Report, Released Today, Provides Critical Update on Criminalization of Girls who Experience Sexual Violence
Findings Indicate Girls Continue to Be Criminalized As a Result of Abuse — Punished, Rather Than Supported
Washington, DC – Today, the Center on Gender Justice & Opportunity at Georgetown Law and Rights4Girls jointly released a new report on the criminalization of girls who experience sexual violence. Read the report, Criminalized Survivors: Today’s Abuse to Prison Pipeline for Girls.
This new release is a follow-up to the trailblazing 2015 publication, The Sexual Abuse to Prison Pipeline: The Girls’ Story, which first examined the troubling abuse to prison pipeline for girls and raised awareness of how girls who have experienced sexual violence are routed into the juvenile justice system, despite being child survivors.
Eight years after the initial publication, this updated report examines where the pipeline is today for girls in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, the #MeToo movement, and the pandemic. It highlights laws and policies that have been enacted to protect survivors of sexual violence and provides recommendations for further action, calling for an end to the criminalization and re-victimization of survivors.
“In this disturbing cycle, girls – especially girls of color – are blamed for the gender-based violence they endure, assigned complicity in their abuse and pushed into the criminal legal system instead of being seen and treated as survivors,” said Yasmin Vafa, Executive Director of Rights4Girls. “All across America, young women continue to languish behind bars because they attempted to protect themselves or tried to escape sexual violence.”
The report highlights three of the most urgent pathways of girls still being propelled into prison as a result of their victimization:
- Survivors of sex trafficking who are punished as traffickers themselves;
- Survivors who harm their abusers in attempting to escape or in self-defense; and
- Survivors who report abuse to police but are charged with filing false reports.
“Change is needed—right now. We should all hold ourselves accountable for ending the systemic punishment of survivors of sexual violence,” said Rebecca Epstein, Executive Director of the Center on Gender Justice & Opportunity. “We remain steadfast in our commitment to actively uncover and address this crisis, which disproportionately impacts the lives of girls of color, LGBTQ+ youth, immigrants, and those with disabilities.”
Rights4Girls is a national human rights organization that advocates for the dignity and rights of young women and girls so that every girl can be safe and live a life free of violence and exploitation. For more information: rights4girls.org