Asian Anti-Rape Activism

Asian Women Against Rape

A group photo of Asian Women Against Rape circa 1991

The Lantern started reporting Asian anti-rape activism more in the late 1980s early 1990s. The Lantern documented workshops and support groups that were specifically about raising awareness of Asian women issues.

Film, panel fight against Asian Sterotypes

The Lantern Nov. 15, 1990

On November 15, 1990, The Lantern reported on a film screening and forum held on November 7, 1990, as a part of the Women of Color Coming Together Project. The project was coordinated by Gilda Lopez, a graduate administrative associate for Women Student Services. The event was intended to “examine and dispel racial stereotypes of Asian women perpetuated by the media” including but not limited to the Dragon Lady, seductive Suzie Wong, and the subservient Geisha girl.

Asian Women Against Rape (Asian Womyn Against Rape or AWAR) was established in the late 1980s by Dr. Chikako Cox, an OSU graduate alum and the first Asian psychologist with a specialization in cross-cultural counseling training at the OSU Counseling and Consultation Services. Dr. Cox hosted several rape education workshops as well, such as the “Rape Education and Prevention for Asian Women” workshop in the Royer Student Center in 1991. In 1993, AWAR was awarded the "Take Back the Night First Annual Women's Community Appreciation Awards."

Nancy Kawasaki Interview

Kawasaki's Interview

AWAR was a relatively informal group that gathered annually to march together in Take Back the Night events. It was a space for Asian women to have comradery with each other while also showing solidarity with the larger anti-rape movement. Nancy Kawasaki, a former member, says in her email interview that “One of the most memorable experiences I have of being part of Asian Womyn Against Rape (AWAR) is reading poems written by and about Asian/Asian American women at the rally after the march (at Take Back the Night). It was empowering to speak loudly among so many people, and there was a sense of unity as we all supported each other, not just within AWAR, but also across different groups of people that were there.”

Dr. Chikako Cox also established the Asian Women Support group that, like AWAR, was intended to foster community amongst Asian women students. The group wanted to not only highlight Asian women in the context of sexual violence but to also highlight the other culturally specific issues Asian women face on campus and society in general. The Asian Women Support group met more frequently than AWAR and hosted several events.

Discussions about Asian women and sexual violence were occasionally picked up by larger university programs. For example, on February 10, 1995, The Lantern reports that the Rape Education and Prevention Program (REPP) held a discussion led by Dr. Chikako Cox on Asian women and sexual assault.

Dr. Chikako Cox also established the Asian Women Support group that, like AWAR, was intended to foster community amongst Asian women students. The group wanted to not only highlight Asian women in the context of sexual violence but to also highlight the other culturally specific issues Asian women face on campus and society in general. The Asian Women Support group met more frequently than AWAR and hosted several events.

Discussions about Asian women and sexual violence were also occasionally picked up by larger university programs. For example, on February 10, 1995, The Lantern reports that the Rape Education and Prevention Program (REPP) held a discussion led by Dr. Chikako Cox on Asian women and sexual assault.

Dr. Cox was awarded several honors including The Ohio State University 1993 Women's Leadership Award and The Office of Academic Affairs 1996 International Outstanding Staff Award for her work. Dr. Cox was able to participate in a video interview that details her time at The Ohio State University, including the social and structural barriers she faced during her advocacy work. 

Asian anti-rape activism continued into the 2000s. There have been organizations that focused on anti-rape activism within specific Asian communities and Asian student leaders in positions of anti-rape organizations. Unmasked is a student organization whose purpose is to erase the South Asian stigma behind sexual assault and create a safe environment for people who have been raped or sexually assaulted. Take Back the Night at Ohio State’s (TBTNOSU) first President, Co-Vice President, and treasurer were Mia Cai Cariello, Shaleen Ghosh, and Jessie Hu, respectively and all identify as Asian. Hu was also a member of It’s On Us at OSU. 

*It is important to note that there may be omissions of events and individuals due to the limitations of compiling data exclusively from articles in The Lantern.