Latina survey finds bias, domestic abuse
News update posted July 28, 2011
by Kate Sosin, Windy City Times
A new report released by Mujeres Latinas en Accion and Amigas Latinas July 28 shows disturbing rates of discrimination and violence impacting LGBT Latinas.
“Latina Portrait: Latina Queer Women in Chicago” surveyed 305 queer women in Chicago about their experiences ranging from everything from health and well-being to inequity within and beyond the city’s LGBT community.
Researchers, who presented their findings in a panel discussion July 28, said some of their findings are alarming.
The survey—conducted in 2007, and just coming out now—sheds light on issues facing Chicago Latinas that researchers say is needed to address a myriad of disparities.
The most pressing of those issues, they said, were rates of domestic abuse; rates of depression and anxiety; and a lack of access to culturally sensitive medical care.
“I hope this disrupts the idea that violence only affects poor women,” said Dr. Lourdes Torres, a DePaul University professor who co-authored the report with Nicole Perez.
Forty-three percent of respondents reported that they had been physically assaulted by a partner, while 31 percent said a female partner had threatened to kill them.
“They had a history of violence and the violence is continuing,” said Lu Rocha, a member of Amigas Latinas, who presented the study findings July 28. “What was alarming was that the women admitted they were participating in the violent behavior”
Forty-five percent of the women surveyed said they had hit or punched a female partner, and 23 percent said they had threatened to kill a partner at some point.
Violence reported came from outside of relationships, too, however.
Many women reported being discriminated against in the mainstream LGBT community because they are Latina. Nearly 69 percent said that racist remarks had been directed at them, while almost 85 percent said they had been in the presence of such remarks.
“We have to understand that violence can be perpetrated through remarks in a number of different ways,” said Torres.
Study findings suggest that discrimination contributed to high rates of mental health concerns. Seventy-seven of the respondents reported depression, while 66 reported suffering from anxiety.
The survey also found that many women do not have a primary health care physician, and that if they do, they are not always out as LGBT to their doctors.
Researchers say that more work needs to be done in the community to make sure that doctors are sensitive to LGBT Latinas and transgender people, especially given the high rates of reported domestic abuse going unreported.
Torres believes the study has its shortcomings. Only one of the 305 respondents self-identified as a transgender, she said. Further, respondents showed higher education rates than have been reported in larger Latin@ communities, making researchers believe that the survey is skewed toward more formally-educated women.
The study is the fifth in a series by Mujeres Latinas en Accion that focus on Latinas.
The survey, which was drafted as a follow-up to a 1996 study, was modeled by Dr. Marisa Alicea of DePaul University after a survey done by Affinity Community Services. Torres said that findings from both studies will eventually be compared.
According to Maria Presqueira, CEO of Mujeres Latinas en Accion, this latest study expands significantly on research done in 1996, especially in areas of mental and physical health.
In response to survey findings, Amigas Latinas has revived an old tradition: members have begun hosting platicas, community gatherings in people’s homes where queer Latinas can share issues and concerns. The organization hopes to address concerns revealed in the survey and also provide a supportive space where women can share issues and interests.
“I don’t want to leave you with the idea that there are not good things happening in our lives, in the lives of queer Latinas,” said Torres.
Terry O’Neill, from NOW(National Organization for Women) was recently interviewed by Amy Goodman from Democracy Now! and here’s a part of the transcript[via HuffPost Women, 8/5/11]
AMY GOODMAN: Where were the women at the debt deal negotiation table?
TERRY O’NEILL: You know, they really were not there, Amy. Women comprise only 17 percent of the United States Congress, to begin with, and less than 20 percent of state governorships. So we don’t have enough women in elected office, to begin with. But we do have women that could have been, early on in the process, talking about this. Nancy Pelosi has been a great champion, frankly, for women throughout the debt ceiling manufactured crisis. But she was only one person. And in addition to that, because we have so few women in Congress, we therefore need the men at the table to have a clue about the impact of their decisions on women. And it’s not clear to me that those men really understand what they’ve done with this latest budget deal.
AMY GOODMAN: I mean, clearly, many people will be heard, especially as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security is threatened. Why is it differentially painful for women?
TERRY O’NEILL: So, the programs that are being cut — the childcare and family planning clinics and prenatal care and job training — those are disproportionately utilized by women. And a lot of people don’t focus on the fact that those are programs that disproportionately employ women. And when I say that, what I mean is, think about those programs. Who works in them? Well, the social workers and childcare workers and educators and healthcare providers — so, predominantly women. Those are the things that have been cut immediately.
Now, the so-called “super committee” that has yet to be appointed that is supposed to propose even more spending cuts by November, that super committee is structured so that it will be looking at Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security. Women rely disproportionately on those programs because women don’t have savings to fall back on in tough economic times. Why don’t we have those savings? Well, it’s because women are paid only 77 cents to the dollar on average, the gender wage gap. But for women of color, there is a race-based, as well as a gender-based, wage gap. So African-American women are being paid just 69 cents on the dollar and Latinas just 59 cents on the dollar. You can’t save with that, so you rely much more heavily on Social Security and on Medicare to get by.
AMY GOODMAN: And what about the issue of education and how it affects women, Terry O’Neill?
TERRY O’NEILL: Well, sure. You need — women need college tuition assistance, because they need that college degree. Women who have a college degree very often end up making, over their lifetime, only the same amount of money as men who simply have a high school degree. In fact, this wage disparity — this is an amazing statistic that I read recently. Over her lifetime, on average, a woman loses $400,000 to $2 million just over her lifetime just due to wage discrimination.
AMY GOODMAN: How do you respond to people like Bill O’Reilly who believe all money for women’s health services should be privately raised?
TERRY O’NEILL: Well, I like the idea of $250,000 for the military, and leave it at that. Let Bill O’Reilly raise the money privately for the military. And let’s use our tax dollars to actually produce healthy people and to allow people to thrive in their communities… So, for Bill O’Reilly to suggest that women should be deprived of healthcare, I think, suggests that he doesn’t understand public health, let alone understand the needs of over half the population.
Ralph Richard Banks recently published an article in the Wall Street Journal, entitled “An Interracial Fix for Black Marriage” -which if some of you don’t know, is owned by Rupert Murdoch-aka the notorious man who fuels the racist propaganda machine behind Fox News(hmmm…just some food for thought as you peruse some memorable passages from this article)
“So why don’t more black women, especially the most accomplished of them, marry men of other races? Why do they marry down so much and out so little?”
“Some black women resist interracial marriage for a more primal reason. Long before Cecelia began her ill-fated relationship with her now ex-husband, she dated a white law-school classmate. They broke up because she couldn’t imagine having children with him. “I wanted chocolate babies,” she explained to me.
Given her milk-chocolate complexion, green eyes and curly hair, Cecelia worried that a biracial baby might come out looking white. Cecelia wanted chocolate babies not just so they would stay connected to black culture, but for another reason as well: So that no one would ever question whether they were hers. With biracial children, she feared that she might be mistaken for the nanny. Many black women share her anxiety about having a biracial child.”
What are your thoughts on interracial marriage? Are black women really as undesirable as Banks suggests? Or is he missing the greater picture? You bet your ass we’ll be talking about this in the next few months.
Barbara Hannah Grufferman posted this article on HuffPost Women earlier today,