Quoted: Jaemin Kim on Stereotypes, Asian Women, and Hate Crimes

Excerpted by Latoya Peterson


During a one month period in Autumn 2000, the predators abducted five Japanese exchange students, ranging from age 18 to 20. Motivated by their sexual biases about Asian women, all three used both their bodies and objects to repeatedly rape – vaginally, anally and orally — two of the young women over a seven hour ordeal.

In Spokane, one of the attackers immediately confessed to searching only for Japanese women to torture and rape — and eventually all pled guilty and were convicted. It clearly was a racially-motivated criminal case. The victims also believed they were attacked because of their race, the prosecutor told me.

What is astonishing, however, is that the district attorney failed to bring an additional charge that would have tagged the crimes as motivated by racial bias. The police also neglected to report the crime as a “hate crime,” as demanded by the Justice Department to keep accurate statistics of all bias-driven crimes. Although the attackers all received long sentences, an important opportunity to raise the nation’s consciousness was lost. We, as a society, were told that it’s not a hate crime to rape an Asian woman because of her race.

In most states, as well as the federal justice system, crimes committed against a person because of the victim’s race, ethnicity or national origin (as well as other protected classes) are considered “hate crimes” or “bias crimes.” Such a label doesn’t always add much to a sentence, but this enhancement to the charges is considered an important public policy matter and receives greater press coverage than standard crimes. A bias-driven crime is particularly egregious, say the laws, and must be defined as such.

But in rapes and sexual assaults targeting Asian women, I can find no instance of prosecutors or police bringing “hate crime” charges. It seems our society frowns on the rape itself, but accepts the racial motivation behind it. Mainstream society simply is blind to this type of racism. Indeed, the Spokane police detective handling the case wrote in an email to me: “It was felt that there was no hate involved instead he [the lead rapist] was very infatuated with the Japanese race.” (sic).

[...]

The attackers in the L.A. and Spokane rape cases did not use typical “hate speech.” But the biggest obstacle to bias crime charges in those cases is that society at large thinks it benign to hold sexualized stereotypes about Asian women. The woeful abandonment of “hate crime” categorization when Asian women are sexually attacked comes from the mistaken belief that weight should be attached to the attacker’s claim to an “attraction” or “fetish” for the victim’s Asian race. There is a disconnect: while authorities do not see the “fetish” as an excuse for the rape, they see it as an excuse from hate crime labeling. Like society at large, they fail to see that this is a form of racial discrimination.

— From Jaemin Kim’s Huffington Post entry “Asian Woman: Rape and Hate Crimes

(Thanks to reader Kristin for sending this in!)