The #MeToo hashtag movement has shown that women of all races, faiths and backgrounds can be the victims of sexual abuse. #MeToo began in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against film producer and executive Harvey Weinstein. But it soon became a social media platform for women to come forward and speak publicly about their experiences.
Sexual abuse can happen to anyone, anywhere. Whether it’s an emerging white Hollywood actress in a film producer’s hotel room or a British-Pakistani woman who did not consent to sex with her husband.
Commentators are calling this wave of sexual abuse stories a watershed moment. A time when women will feel increasingly confident to speak about their experiences and obtain justice. But some say that due to cultural traditions, white women might feel more confident to come forward if they have experienced sexual abuse than non-white women – especially women of Asian heritage.
Sammy Woodhouse, an exploitation victim turned campaigner, recently published an article which focuses on the need to give Asian women a voice. She writes how victims of sexual abuse of Asian heritage are less likely to come forward because they believe it will bring shame upon the family.
“The Pakistani community are very much about dealing with it [sexual abuse] themselves, they do not want outside people coming in,” she writes. “A lot of work needs to be done about that, giving girls and women a voice. A young Pakistani girl contacted me recently to tell me she had gone to the police with exploitation allegations, but she isn’t telling her community, because she fears she won’t be able to marry … it is almost as if they are blamed more for their abuse.”
She goes on to say that far from being isolated incidents, there are “hundreds of girls and women around the country with similar stories.”
No woman should feel isolated or shunned by their community if they have suffered sexual abuse. The #MeToo campaign has shown how important it is for women to come forward, to obtain support and understanding. Speaking out about your own abuse is a brave thing to do and it’s vital to have a network of people around you to help you through.
At ODARA, we offer a safe space for all women, irrespective of faith or background. We have a Women’s Support Group and Health and Wellbeing Days open to all women to get involved in. We understand the need for a welcoming and understanding environment that is exclusively for women.
We provide a sympathetic ear, so you’re free to chat with us about everything from mental health issues, self-esteem, or family worries. We are also here if you need to speak with someone about sexual abuse.
Together, we are stronger and can create a brighter future in times of darkness. If you need us, come and see us. You can also contact us via our website.