Day 9 of 16 Days of Activism: Malta

The tiny European island country of Malta takes the spotlight for #Day9 of #16Days of Activism. While boasting an impressive generosity with 83% of the population giving to charity, Malta still has some room to grow in the equality department. Fertility and childbearing are still upheld as women’s most important calling with a local proverb claiming a childless marriage cannot be a happy one. Malta only legalized divorce in 2011, abortion is still illegal and 16 is the legal age for marriage….

You can find some absolutely incredible date on domestic violence in Malta here, and I highly suggest you check it out–now. The government agency Foundation for Social Welfare Services operates the Commission on Domestic Violence, the Commission for the Promotion of Equality for Men and Women, and the Agenzija Appogg.

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The Appogg Agency coordinates Positive Parenting to combat child abuse, as well as the “Domestic Violence Services [which] include the Domestic Violence Unit, the Perpetrators’ Service and Għabex (emergency shelter for women victims of domestic violence and their children). These services are committed to the promotion of a society with zero tolerance to violence.” The Domestic Violence Unit’s objective is

    • To support service users over 18 years who suffer abuse within intimate relationships, and to help them better understand and address their situation;
    • to help service users understand that they do not deserve to be abused;
    • to help service users develop safety plans;
    • to encourage self-empowerment;
    • to help service users find shelter when it is necessary;
    • to link service users  with other services or professionals;
    • to enable service users take control of their lives;
    • to help service users along with their children to overcome the effects of growing in a violent environment;
    • to contribute to public education on domestic violence;
    • to formulate inter-agency domestic violence procedures and to work in liaison with the concerned agencies towards negotiating these procedures and applying them;
    • to work towards developing a society with zero tolerance to violence

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…while the Men’s Service utilizes a 22 week program “to assist men who are abusive in intimate relationships, to become aware of, understand and take responsibility for their behaviour, thus encouraging change.” 

The main aim of the Men’s Service is to help abusive men:

  • learn to stop the abuse 
  • learn to identify the danger signs 
  • learn to break out of isolation 
  • learn safer ways of expressing strong feelings 
  • learn to build healthy relationships 
  • take responsibility for their behaviour

The Men’s Service is committed to: 

  • developing and contributing to services for the safety of women and children;
  • contributing to public education on domestic violence; 
  • working towards developing a society with zero tolerance to violence.

Supportline 179 (also run by Appogg) is the country’s 24/7 free national hotline which fields calls ranging from “domestic violence, homelessness, suicidal tendencies, marital and/or family problems, loneliness, emotional difficulties, behavioral problems, depression and other mental health issues, human trafficking, substance abuse, gambling, amongst others.” Kelimni is an agency dedicated to hearing out young people, and offers support through email and message boards, as well as a chat function available MWF 7pm-11pm and Saturday 10am-2pm. 

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The National Council of Women of Malta is the only organization I could find in English that is not run by the government whose aim is to promote equality of opportunity. They also share a number of articles and links about subjects that affect women (and families) in Malta. Their objectives are

  • to promote the establishment of human rights for the people of Malta and their civic, educational, moral and religious welfare
  • to promote such conditions of life as will assure for all persons opportunities for full and free development
  • to secure the removal of all disabilities of women, legal, economic or social and to promote the effective participation of women in the life of the nation
  • to promote sympathy of thought and co-operation among women
  • to act as a co-ordinating body for organisations which work for any of its objectives
  • to collect and distribute information of service to the community through the International Council of Women to form a link with National Councils of Women in other countries​.

Although it is a tiny, traditional island nation, Malta and it’s government are working to eliminate violence against women and gender inequality at many levels. If the recommendations of the social and academic experts in the country are followed regarding best practices in data collection and survivor’s rights there’s no way they can’t reach their goal.


Day 8 of 16 Days of Activism: Ireland

#Day8 of #16Days leads us to Ireland, where the population is no stranger to violence, starvation and hardship. After centuries of fighting between the Catholics in Ireland and the Protestants in Northern Ireland, finally an uneasy peace has persisted since 1998. Unfortunately for the women of Ireland that peace has not spread to their homes, with one-fifth of women in Ireland suffering from physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives. The Irish Immigrant Support Center explains that immigrants experiencing domestic violence are likely to be approved for their own independent legal residence, and has created a guide for immigrants while pushing the Irish legal system to make significant adjustments in how DV is handled in the courts. In September this shocking article disclosed that some women in Ireland are waiting four months to get a protective order against their abuser.

 

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Women’s Aid “a leading national organisation that has been working in Ireland to stop domestic violence against women and children since 1974″ operates the country’s National Freephone Helpline from 10am-10pm everyday (except Christmas) at 1800 341 900. “The Helpline is available free of charge to everyone in the Republic of Ireland. The Helpline is for:

  • Women who are experiencing, or who have experienced, domestic violence.
  • Friends and family seeking to support women and children who are experiencing, or who have experienced, domestic violence.
  • Professionals supporting women and children who are experiencing, or who have experienced, domestic violence.”

As this research shows children in Ireland are also severely impacted by domestic violence. One in Four is an organization dedicated to helping survivors of sexual violence, especially those who were victimized as children, heal. Safe Ireland is another organization working to make Ireland safe for women and children. It is an umbrella organization with a network of 40 domestic violence services throughout the country, 21 of which offer 24/7 emergency shelter. They also offer court accompaniment, outreach and advocacy. “Domestic Violence Support Services have a wide range of skills and experience to respond to a range of women and children’s needs. These include

Safety Related Needs

  • Supporting women with ways to protect them and their children from their partner/ex partner
  • Safety Planning for women and their children
  • Support with managing contact with a partner/ex-partner

Child Related Needs
Information and support for women with:

  • Schooling for her children
  • Custody and access for her children
  • Child welfare and protection issues for her children
  • Getting emotional support for her children
  • Health care for her children
  • Play/recreation activities for her children
  • Understanding the impact of domestic violence on her children

Practical Needs
Information and Support with:

  • Legal Protection
  • Jobs and Work
  • Training and Education
  • Health Care
  • Benefits and Finances
  • Housing and Accommodation

Emotional Needs
Support with:

  • Understanding the impact of domestic violence on her
  • Healing emotionally from her experiences
  • Understanding the causes of domestic violence
  • Making decisions about her life

Men in Ireland suffer from domestic violence as well, as do men in all countries. The National Office for the Prevention of Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence estimates that 6% of Irish men suffer from severe physical abuse and 88,000 men in Ireland have been abused at some point in their lives. Amen is an organization dedicated to helping male survivors of abuse; they operate a Helpline available Monday-Friday from 9am-5pm at 046 9023718 and offer counseling, support groups and court accompaniment. An organization which tackles the other way in which men are involved in domestic violence MOVE Ireland, Men Overcoming Violence, “is a structured group work programme for men who are or have been violent in an intimate relationship. The programmes are designed to help the participants take responsibility for their violence and to choose to behave differently in the future.”

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Folks needing legal advice can get the basics for free from Free Legal Advice Centres at their walk-in clinics or by calling 1890 350 250 Monday to Thursday from 9am-5:30pm and Friday from 9am-5pm. Similarly the Crime Victims Helpline offers free support by phone at 116 006 and via text at 085 133 7711. They operate Monday – 10am-7:30pm, Tuesday to Friday – 10am-5pm and Saturday and Bank Holidays – 2-4pm.

Finally the Rape Crisis Network Ireland “is a specialist information and resource centre on rape and all forms of sexual violence with a proven capacity in strategic leadership. We are the representative, umbrella body for our member Rape Crisis Centres who provide free advice, counselling and support for survivors of sexual abuse.” They have an impressive repertoire of best practices for rape crisis center guidelines, and work to prevent sexual violence from an evidence-based approach.

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Ireland’s dedication to stopping gender-based violence is impressive but obviously still not enough. Hopefully the work of these impactful organizations will speed up the process of creating a lasting peace in Ireland, from the front lines to the home front.


Day 7 of 16 Days of Activism: Jamaica

#Day7 of #16Days falls on World AIDS Day. According to UNAIDS Jamaica’s current strategy to combat HIV/AIDS is “Making Human Rights Real” but despite huge successes from the program–“Since 2004, with the introduction of antiretroviral treatment, AIDS-related deaths in Jamaica have dropped by 41% and mother-to-child transmission of HIV has fallen from 25% in 2004 to below 5% in 2011”–budget cuts from the government could hinder that progress. And despite being slightly out-of-date the Ministry of Health does advertise free HIV & Syphilis testing at mobile clinics and is working to empower women to be “smart women” and have condoms at hand.

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The smart women of Jamaica are banding together in many ways. Jamaica Youth Theatre has crafted a two-minute video in the hopes of helping to Stop Violence Against Women to add to their repertoire of socially conscious flicks on everything from unintended pregnancy to sexual assault to HIV. Do Good Jamaica is a network of non-governmental and community based organizations (like Women’s Media Watch Jamaica and the Association of Women’s Organizations in Jamaica) that help in all kinds of ways.

In March Jamaica had the honor of hosting the second annual Caribbean Conference on Domestic Violence and Gender Equality. The conference looks like it was a fantastic learning and networking opportunity as it had clinical training for healthcare providers, training for activists using social media, a workshop on “Gender and human rights-based programming to address gender-based violence (GBV) and HIV in LGBT communities,” and discussions on the historical roots of gender-based violence in the Caribbean, disaster and violence against women, best practices in gender mainstreaming, the challenges of dealing with police officers who are abusive to their partners, the role of male engagement in ending gender-based violence, and much more.

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Popular Jamaican dancehall artist Ishawna made headlines in October when she disclosed to the public that her well-known ex-fiancé had been physically abusive, and to the surprise of many the country rallied around her, empowering other men and women to speak out against domestic violence. The unfortunate level of violence in Jamaica is not limited to intimate partner violence but violence against children and other community violence is rampant as well. Jamaica’s domestic violence law can be found on the Ministry of Justice website but the Bureau of Women’s Affairs seems to be much more 21st Century as it “is mandated to mobilize the Government to address the problems that confront women, given the impact of patriarchy and sexism.”

wi-logoOne group fighting ferociously to update Jamaica’s laws regarding domestic and sexual violence is the 30-year-old Woman Incorporated. They also operate the country’s national Crisis Center Hotline at 929-2997 for survivors of domestic or sexual violence, and participate in advocacy and public awareness campaigns. This article explains how the laws surrounding rape within marriage have changed over the years, but at the time of publication marital rape is still not criminal in Jamaica. Other laws they are working to change include the definition of rape/sexual abuse of a child, as well as laws regarding parental rights when accusations of child abuse are at hand. 

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Women’s Resource and Outreach Center is another organization in Jamaica promoting gender equality and combating violence against women; one way they do this is by advocating for quotas through the 51% Coalition. They also organize trainings to empower women in leadership roles:

Under a programme funded by the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF), WROC executed a training programme ‘Strengthening Women’s Leadership in Jamaica (SWLJ)’, which was designed to address concerns highlighted in a Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) funded gender research project that showed that little progress has been made in the last decade for women serving on boards and commissions in Jamaica. Training sessions were conducted with ninety three ladies for appointment to public and private sector boards and commissions as well as school boards. A database with the profiles of the 103 ladies trained was later developed and a printed publication was presented to key public and private sector organizations/leaders.

Though there aren’t a huge number of organizations or resources in Jamaica dedicated to ending gender-based violence, it looks like the ones who are there are doing great work. Let’s hope many more future leaders get a head start soon too!


Day 6 of 16 Days of Activism: South Africa

#Day6 of #16Days explores the help available in South Africa, the callously misnamed “rape capital” of the world. Certainly South Africa has an abhorrent track record of sexual assault, especially so-called “corrective rape,” (whereby some misogynist tries to rape lesbians into heterosexuality,) but most countries have embarrassing rates of sexual assault. Hell, any sexual assault is embarrassing.

With a history like theirs though South Africans have taken to the streets and created an astounding number of organizations aimed at bettering society for everyone. The Gender-Based Violence Prevention Network has member organizations in numerous cities throughout the country. The Advice Desk for Abused Women may be reached at 27 31 204 4922. The National Network on Violence Against Women may be reached at 27 012 312 7541. The Women’s National Coalition of South Africa may be reached at 27 11 331 5958 / 331 5958 and beijing@wn.apc.org.

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Lifelines has a Gender Based Violence Helpline- toll free line 24hrs/7days per week for more information and counselling: 0800-150-150; an AIDS Helpline: 0800-012-322; and a National Counseling Helpline: 0861-322-322. Women’s Net is another organization that has information about violence against women, as well as many other topics from gender budgeting to governance to HIV/AIDS.

There are some very specialized programs in South Africa.

Agenda Feminist Media is “committed to giving women a forum, a voice and skills to articulate their needs and interests towards transforming unequal gender relations. We aim to question and challenge current understandings and practices of gender relations.”

African Gender Institute at the University of Cape Town “is a feminist research unit, committed to political work on the African continent. We focus on writing, publications, research processes and partnerships, network-building and participative learning.”

The Center for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation has a gender-based violence program which “seeks to understand the root causes of gender-based violence in all its forms in society and to develop strategies of violence prevention for use by civil society and government.”

Childline–08000-55-555–is “an effective non-profit organization that works collectively to protect children from all forms of violence and to create a culture of children’s rights in South Africa.”

Paralegal Advice for Family Law and Violence Against Women. They have information on everything from abortion to marriage, divorce, and custody to death.

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Rape Crisis is an organization dedicated to ending the shame surrounding sexual assault. “Rape Crisis has a vision of a South African criminal justice system that supports and empowers rape survivors in all of its interventions. Until such time as this vision becomes a reality we provide that support and empowerment. We believe that the rape survivor is the key to a successful conviction and that her empowerment is based on safety, respect, support and the ability to make informed choices as she embarks on this difficult and challenging journey.”

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The Nisaa Institute for Women’s Development provides counseling, training and pubic awareness and advocacy. The Institute “provides counselling through three mediums face-to-face being the most prominent, but telephonic and e-mail counselling services are also used. We thus reach a wider spectrum of people.We are able to provide these services to women and their children for free.”

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People Opposing Women Abuse is a “feminist, women’s rights organisation that provides both services, and engages in advocacy in order to ensure the realisation of women’s rights and thereby improve women’s quality of life.” They use a multi-faceted approach to reach their goals.

1. SECTOR CAPACITY BUILDING AND STRENGTHENING

As an organisation that has been in existence for 29 years, we recognise the need to increase the knowledge and capacity of women’s groups in rural and peri-urban areas where traditionally, access to services such as the Criminal Justice System and clinics are a major challenge.
Due to requests for POWA to open offices in their communities by women’s informal groups, we resolved to empower women within their own communities through the concept of ownership. As an organisation, we therefore provide training, education and mentorship for women’s groups to understand the women’s rights discourse as well as formalise and develop services that respond directly to their particular needs in regards to violence against women.
We currently provide this service to 6 women’s groups in 5 provinces (Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, Northwest and Gauteng)

2. LAW REFORM

A critical part of engaging in improving the rights of women is influencing national, regional and international policy. As an organisation, we have therefore developed a department that actively writes and makes submissions to parliament on issues that relate directly to our core issues. In addition, we provide expert support to government institutions regarding creating gender sensitive spaces for all women.
From the grassroots perspective, we actively engage in rights education to women’s groups and organisations thus mobilising women’s voices to create the appropriate attention to women’s issues and cause the desired effect of reforms for better laws for the protection of women.

3. RIGHT’S EDUCATION

Part of the responsibilities of all branch offices is to engage with their surrounding communities in rights education. This process is done through community meetings , community conversations and formal workshops on understanding Human rights with specific focus on women’s right and access to justice.

4. REGIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL STRATEGIC ADVOCACY

POWA recognises that South Africa has a comprehensive constitution, a good legal framework and numerous agreements and policies that are set out to protect women’s rights. These agreements are not only national, but regional (SADC), continental and international.
Part of the failings regarding the protection and access of women’s rights is the limited knowledge of the document framework, capacity and skills to implement and domesticate the substance of the agreements set out by the state.
POWA conducts preparatory workshops and information sessions to enable organisations to learn and choose to engage in the regional strategy. We also work towards creating report back or feedback sessions on activities of such meetings and thirdly, we work towards creating round table discussions for strategies of calling for state accountability on emerging issues.

5. SHELTERING AND COUNSELLING

As an organization, we provide individual face-to-face counselling, group counselling and telephonic counselling to women whom have experienced violence. In addition, we provide child play therapy for children who reside in our shelters of safety with their mothers.
Women can access our counselling through our branch offices. We currently have 6 satellite offices and 2 confidential shelters. Our offices are strategically located in areas for women from economically disadvantaged communities and women from the Johannesburg inner city for easy to access services.
As we provide free services to all women in South Africa, we ensure that access is not an additional challenge to the already overwhelming challenges for women to access their rights. This approach assists with the reduction of women’s vulnerability due to economic/financial dependencies that play a huge role in violence against women. Our activities address issues of safety and security that are fundamental to rights for all in South Africa.

With all of these fantastic organizations working so hard in South Africa, hopefully a violence-free future is awaiting all South Africans regardless of sex, gender, race, age, dis/ability, sexual orientation, or religion.

 


Day 5 of 16 Days of Activism: Mexico

#Day5 de los #16Days of Activism es sobre nuestro vecino al sur, México. Sabemos que la violencia contra mujeres allá es una vergüenza, pero el país no es sin recursos.

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El Instituto Nacional de Mujeres, del gobierno, tiene esta pagina con líneas telefónicas para casi todo el país, estado por estado, porque tod@s merecen una vida sin violencia. La Portal Víctimas de Maltrato Abuso y Hostigamiento Sexual también tiene muchas números de teléfono donde puede conseguir ayuda. Una de las organizaciones más importantes en la lucha contra el feminicidio es Nuestras Hijas de Regreso a Casa, que lucha para todas las hijas y mujeres desaparecidas y asesinadas de Juárez, y todo el país. Sus objetivos incluyen:

  • Acompañar y orientar a las familias cuyas hijas han desaparecido.
  • Reclamar la justicia jurídica y social para las familias afectadas, a través de diferentes acciones.
  • Promover programas de rehabilitación ocupacional para atender la salud física y afectiva de integrantes de las familias que lo soliciten.
  • Impulsar la modificación, elaboración y revisión de artículos de la ley contenidos en el Código Penal del Estado de Chihuahua que permiten estos y otros hechos violentos.
  • Informar oportunamente a la comunidad nacional e internacional acerca de los asesinatos, desapariciones y violaciones a los derechos humanos de mujeres en el Estado de Chihuahua.
  • Promover entre ciudadanos y ciudadanas de cualquier país, organismos internacionales, los gobiernos y las ONG´s, que se pronuncien en contra de los asesinatos y desapariciones de mujeres y a favor de un alto a la impunidad de que gozan actualmente estos crímenes.
  • Demandar que desde la comunidad nacional e internacional se obligue a las autoridades locales, estatales y federales de México, a que destinen las personas y los recursos materiales necesarios para la búsqueda de la solución a esta problemática.
  • Difundir pronunciamientos, informes y diagnósticos que organizaciones e instituciones nacionales e internacionales hagan en relación con la situación que viven las mujeres en el Estado de Chihuahua.

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Otras organizaciones en México incluyen Ya Basta de Violencia Contra la MujerEl Centro de Orientación y Prevención de la Agresión Sexual, El Centro Virtual de Derechos Humanos, El Dirección General de Igualidad y Diversidad Social, La Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos, CONAM y La Unidad de Asuntos Internacionales de la Mujer. Hay mucha violencia en México, contra las mujeres, contra l@s hij@s, contra el medio ambiente, y contra derechos humanos en general, pero también hay muchas personas en México trabajando día por día, para hacer el país más seguro por tod@s.


Day 4 of 16 Days of Activism: Aotearoa/New Zealand

#Day4 of #16Days takes us to Australia’s Pacific neighbor, New Zealand, Aotearoa in the native Maori language. In 1893 New Zealand’s women earned the right to vote, the first in the world to earn national suffrage, and Aotearoa is considered the fourth most peaceful country in the world, but as recently as 2011 New Zealand had the shame of landing near the bottom of the UN’s list–near the USA–when it came to the number of women suffering from intimate partner violence as well as the rate of maternal mortality. According to the organization Women’s Refuge police are called to a domestic violence scene every seven minutes, and yet the police estimate that only 18% of domestic violence incidents are reported. What that means is that like the US and Australia, one in three women in New Zealand will face abuse in her lifetime.

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Aside from helpful statistics Women’s Refuge also provides education to survivors of violence, support for their family and friends, and operate a youth site with the message that real love doesn’t hurt. Their crisis line can be reached at 0800 REFUGE.

As an independent community organisation we work at many levels. From our contact with individuals and families through to involvement with local community and government agencies, we strive to help prevent and stop domestic violence.

Shine–Safer Homes in New Zealand Everyday–te kakano tumanako, also operates a confidential domestic abuse helpline at 0508 744 633. They outline their values and their mission as follows:

Integrity / Rangatiratanga The koru unfolds – symbolising honesty, transparency and accountability

Excellence / Manaakitanga The koru reaches towards the light – striving for growth and better outcomes

Innovation / Whakatupuranga The koru adapts to its environment – symbolising creativity and openness to new ideas

Optimism / Whakapono The koru symbolises hope, growth and encouragement for the future

Unity / Kotahitanga The koru’s strength depends on sun and water — many elements working as one — symbolising the need for us to work as one team

Support / Tautoko victims to be safe and perpetrators to change

Learn / Akoranga from our clients, research and others

Act / Whakamahia to implement change

Reflect / Maumahara on our experience and develop our practice

Share / Mahitahi what we learn with others

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Te Ohaakii a Hine- National Network Ending Sexual Violence Together is another organization in Aotearoa designed to help victims, perpetrators and family and friends of anyone affected by sexual violence. They are available 24/7 at 0800 883300 and their services include:

  • Primary prevention: Promoting healthy and respectful social norms in whanau/families, hapu, iwi and communities
  • Early intervention: Crisis support for victim/survivors, including support in the criminal justice system, forensic medical services for victim/survivors and support for children displaying inappropriate sexualised behaviours
  • Recovery and support for victim/survivors
  • Longer term treatment for victim/survivors with high and complex needs
  • Harmful sexual behaviour services for people who have perpetrated sexual abuse or harm on others.
  • Specialist advice and training for government agencies and for professionals working with sexual violence e.g. psychologists, counsellors, GPs, nurses, health workers, teachers, social workers
  • Promotion of law reform to increase the accountability of offenders.

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It’s Not OK is a great example of an organization that encourages the entire community to act together to end violence. “Its goal is to change attitudes and behaviour that tolerate any kind of family violence. The campaign’s vision is a community where each person believes there is something they can do to help and is likely to act when they know violence is happening.” In addition to their very interactive website they operate the Family Violence Information Line (0800 456 450).  “It provides self-help information and connects people to services where appropriate. It is available seven days a week, from 9am to 11pm.”

New Zealand, despite it’s small island size and population under 5 million, also has a ton of other great resources like Shakti, specializing in helping families of Asian, African and Middle Eastern origin, 0800 Whats Up, for kids and teens to talk about anything at all, Rape Prevention Education- Whakatu Mauri, working to prevent sexual violence through education, Te Kupenga – the National Network of Stopping Violence, a network or ‘he kupenga’ of 42 independent community-based organisations, the government-run Family Services Directory, and the New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse. That’s a lot of resources all with the same goal: safer lives for everyone in their community. 


Day 3 of 16 Days of Activism: Australia

#Day3 of #16Days explores another English-speaking country with a history of English subjugation and genocide against Native people. Just like in the United States 1 of every 3 women in Australia will experience sexual or domestic violence. Available in 28 spoken languages as well as Auslan–Australian Sign Language, 1800RESPECT is the Australian National Sexual Assault, Family Violence Counselling Service. They offer free help to survivors of violence and their friends and family by phone and through chat 24/7. You can learn more about the work they do from their YouTube Page. They also have a map of organizations throughout the country that provide help to Aboriginal and Torre Strait Islander women, children and families. Additionally they provide help to service providers from dealing with vicarious trauma to webinars on cultural issues to working with people with disabilities. From their website:

While living free from violence is everyone’s right, reducing violence is everyone’s responsibility. Reducing all violence in our community is a priority. All forms of violence are unacceptable, in any community and in any culture.

Domestic or family violence and sexual assault are the more pervasive forms of violence experienced by women; they can also happen to men. These forms of violence cause significant personal, social and economic costs for all in our community.

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The Australian Government Department of Social Services website has crisis line numbers for each territory, as well as the national Mensline Australia–1300 789 978– (a professional telephone and online support and information service for Australian men) and explains domestic violence and sexual assault this way:

Domestic or family violence can include any behaviours used by one person to establish and maintain power and control over their partner or another person in his/her family, including:

  • physical abuse – including direct assaults on the body, use of weapons, driving dangerously, destruction of property, abuse of pets in front of family members, assault of children, locking the victim out of the house, and sleep deprivation.
  • sexual abuse – any form of forced sex or sexual degradation, such as sexual activity without consent, causing pain during sex, assaulting genitals, coercive sex without protection against pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease, making the victim perform sexual acts unwillingly, criticising, or using sexually degrading insults.
  • emotional abuse – blaming the victim for all problems in the relationship, constantly comparing the victim with others to undermine self-esteem and self-worth, sporadic sulking, withdrawing all interest and engagement (e.g. weeks of silence).
  • verbal abuse – continual ‘put downs’ and humiliation, either privately or publicly, with attacks following clear themes that focus on intelligence, sexuality, body image and capacity as a parent and spouse.
  • social abuse – systematic isolation from family and friends through techniques such as ongoing rudeness to family and friends, moving to locations where the victim knows nobody, and forbidding or physically preventing the victim from going out and meeting people.
  • economic abuse – complete control of all monies, no access to bank accounts, providing only an inadequate ‘allowance’, using any wages earned by the victim for household expenses.
  • spiritual abuse – denying access to ceremonies, land or family, preventing religious observance, forcing victims to do things against their beliefs, denigration of cultural background, or using religious teachings or cultural tradition as a reason for violence.

Sexual violence is any behaviour of a sexual nature which is unwanted or occurs without consent. It includes sexual harassment, sexual assault, childhood sexual abuse and rape. Sexual violence is an abuse of power which may involve the use of physical force, threat or coercion.

Some Australians still feel that violence against women is condoned in their country and their culture, much as many Americans do,  and reporting rates are similar as well: 64% of Australian women who experienced physical assault and 81.1% of women who experienced sexual assault still did not report it to police. While progress is being made it’s clear that Australia still has a long way to go.

 


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