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A January report by the Office on Violence Against Women at the Department of Justice summarizes key points and recommendations from a meeting of survivors, scholars, and activists examining how criminalization impacts the lives of black women and girls. According to the report, titled “The Impact of Incarceration and Mandatory Minimums on Survivors,” roundtable participants emphasized how black women’s voices are rarely reflected in policy development, resulting in one-size-fits-all policies.
Participants noted that stereotypes of black female survivors as violent and invulnerable contribute to their being seen as “the perpetrator and aggressor when they stand up for themselves, regardless of the reality of their circumstances and the violence they face.”
Recommendations include developing culturally appropriate, trauma-informed responses for black female victims within and beyond the criminal justice system, addressing economic inequalities that prevent women who experience domestic violence from having real choices, and not criminalizing sexual trafficking victims who are under age 18.