Nikita Sowan

Stigma and prejudice amongst female South Asian survivors of sexual violence

Supervisors: Dr Miguel Ramos and Dr Sophie King- Hill

Nikita SowanNikita's career so far, particularly her academic journey, has been relatively varied, as she has pursued university degrees in different disciplines, however, all of which have proven useful in building foundations for a long term career in Criminal Justice and Crime Prevention.

Currently, she is a Doctoral Researcher at the University of Birmingham, working towards a PhD Social Policy, Sociology and Criminology doctoral degree. Her thesis focusses broadly on the issue of Gender Based Violence and has a particular focus on 'Stigma and Prejudice amongst female South Asian survivors of sexual violence' and the impact this has on women in the long term. Her research and career interests are not limited to this however, as Nikita also has research and academic interests in the workings of organised crime groups, especially those who commit crimes against women and children. Her hope is that her research will make a valuable contribution in this particular field of study and will act as a catalyst for change for the future. Nikita is a Qualitative researcher and so her research will enable evidence- based conclusions to be made, which is vital for promoting change for the future.

She strongly believes her research will help to leave a positive and lasting impact on women's lives. It is now Nikita's mission to serve in the best way she can - locally, nationally and globally - to help eradicate and prevent crime and social harms of this nature. Potential ways to prevent further crime and social harms of this type include top-down change through policymaking and evidence-based legislature; and also, through bottom-up change through social justice reformation, education, and awareness, as well as positive use of real-life case studies which will allow for better legislature and policymaking.

Outside of Academia, Nikita is a School Governor at a Primary School in Birmingham, where she advises on the ‘Performance, Standards and Safeguarding’ committee. 


  • BA (Hons) Religious Studies and Politics – Cardiff University (2020)
  • MA Global Public Policy- University of Birmingham (2021)

Research interests

  • Gender Based Violence/ Violence against Women
  • 'Honour' Based Violence
  • Post- colonial feminism
  • Intersectionality
  • Victimology
  • Criminal Justice Policy
  • South Asian Diaspora

Research Overview

Nikita's PhD research aims to provide a detailed insight into one of the most prevalent, yet undisclosed topics amongst the South Asian community: Sex. Conversing about Sex, in any form of narrative, is a considered a taboo subject within South Asian communities, due to both religious and cultural beliefs; and so the idea of Sex as an object of harm (such as sexual assaults, rape, and violence) is therefore also a taboo subject. It is this ‘not talking about it’ culture, which is prevalent in these communities, which has left survivors of sexual violence feeling stigmatised and shamed, resulting in detrimental effects to their long term personal well-being. My project will explore some of these complexities, which include, but are not limited to cultural beliefs, customs, and religion.

Research Aims and Objectives:  

  • To decipher how and why females from South Asian backgrounds are stigmatised and negatively stereotyped after experiencing sexual assault and violence.
  • To explore reasons why this stigma and shame still exists within modern day 21st Century South Asian communities, including why such crimes are often left un-reported.
  • To investigate how these females are affected long term by this stigma and shame- and the effect this has on their personal well- being.
  • To collect first-hand primary data that will allow me to gain insight into the effects of this prejudice and negative stereotyping.
  • Explore the role that men play in this negative stereotyping and explore ideas and perceptions surrounding patriarchy.
  • To raise awareness of this subject in South Asian culture and communities, by using the research collected to create awareness, providing them with a voice to act against this discrimination and prejudice.

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