Imkaan launches Reclaiming Voice: Minoritised Women and Sexual Violence

March 04, 2020

Today (4th March 2020), Imkaan has published "Reclaiming Voice: Minoritised Women and Sexual Violence". This national study provides unique insights into how minoritised women make sense of sexual violence and respond to such violations within a wider societal context of silencing and unspeakability and specifically how this manifests for minoritised women based on their intersectional location.

The report contains detailed narratives on the help-seeking journeys of minoritised survivors, service responses and promising practice approaches from specialist women’s organisations across the ‘by and for’ BME VAWG and sexual violence sectors, as well as recommendations for improving policy and practice.

“While the recent focus on sexual violence and harassment in the media is to be welcomed, we have until this research known very little about sexual violence and its consequences in the lives of black and minority women. This is important to understand as they experience sexual violence within a context of societal racism, which lends further dimensions to their experiences.

Perpetrated very often by those in women’s intimate and familial lives, Reclaiming Voice shows that black and minority women are subjected to many overlapping forms of violence and abuse – rape in marriage, child sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, trafficking - which they live with for as long as 15 years before seeking help. When they do try and speak out about their violations, they are not heard or forced into silence through a range of strategies at personal, family, community and societal levels, whether this is shame, stigma, denial, pressure to be strong and to not reinforce racialised views of their communities or indeed poor responses from agencies which too often know little and make damaging assumptions.

What helped women to recover was specialist sexual violence services that provided a sense of emotional safety, without judgement or racism, where women could form connections to others who ‘looked like them’. However, since austerity has disproportionately impact black and minority women, these services are often not widely available. If we are to protect all women and girls from sexual violence, it is imperative that those making decisions make it possible for women to be understood and to access the help they need.”

- Dr. Ravi Thiara, University of Warwick, co-author of the report

“This is the first national study in the UK which focuses on BME survivors of sexual violence and their experiences in accessing support services and the responses that they receive.


The research addresses a gap in understanding the experiences of minoritised women and sexual violence experience. It particularly sheds lights on those experiences of minoritised women that are seldom heard and who do not benefit from specialist support. The research refers to this as the multiple silencing strategies and it is these strategies that are reproduced in times of austerity.

To address this the research advocates a more comprehensive understanding of the experiences of minoritised women”

- Baljit Banga, Executive Director, Imkaan

"Reclaiming Voice" is available to download now.


"Reclaiming Voice: Minoritised Women and Sexual Violence - Key Findings"

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