Daya Stands with Survivors in Texas
With the recent legislation passed in Texas, Daya wants to shine a light on how these bills may impact survivors of domestic and sexual violence in our community. Bills SB1 and SB8 have created new challenges for South Asian survivors in Texas. SB8, also known as the heartbeat bill, restricts reproductive justice by limiting the body autonomy for many survivors. Moreover, restrictions imposed by SB1 limit the ability for many South Asian survivors to vote for representatives and legislation that can support and center safety and independence. Survivors working towards safety and healing from trauma must have control over their own bodies and choices. These laws inhibit the path of healing for many survivors in our community.
Further, last week, Texas Governor Greg Abbott vowed to “eliminate rape” in our state, when asked about the lack of exceptions for survivors of rape and incest in SB8. While Daya believe that communities can work together to end the cycle of violence, including rape and sexual abuse, we must recognize the nuisances and realities of sexual violence. We must recognize the ubiquity of sexual violence and the complexities of the legal system that often disadvantage survivors who pursue legal justice. Additionally, nearly 80% of survivors know their abusers, one-third of whom were a former spouse, and survivors need more robust legal support and protection to report assaults (Rape Abuse and Incest National Network). Though we have come a long way in becoming more aware of sexual violence in our community, fear and shame still prevent most survivors of rape from reporting their assaults to law enforcement. Until we create a culture and legal system that holds perpetrators accountable, without blaming the victim, identifying all rapists will be an impossible challenge. Furthermore, for survivors currently pursuing justice, there remains a backlog of over 6,000 unexamined rape kits in Texas. Each kit holds unique DNA evidence that could help hold rapists accountable to the law and provide safety and closure for survivors.
As we have for 25 years, Daya stands with survivors of violence as we work to amplify their needs in the community. In order to create a rape-free Texas, we must first believe survivors and continue to center them and their experiences in the conversation. A critical step the Texas Legislature can take is to increase funding for sexual violence education and prevention programs. The more awareness there is around what sexual violence is and how to prevent it, the greater chance we have at ending the cycle of violence. Together we must advocate for greater funding to support survivors, raise awareness, and end the rape kit backlog. These steps will ensure survivors receive the expedient justice they deserve. Through centering survivors, education, and legal support, we can create a culture that protects and empowers survivors.