Tag Archives: 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence
Most people in the United States automatically equate November with Pilgrims & “Indians” and Thanksgiving, and while the tide of cognizant adults is turning, there are still millions of people in the USA who do not acknowledge our country’s horrific, genocidal, colonial history. I’ve written about Native American women’s activism in the States before, but today I want to bring your attention to Native American Heritage Month, and a few things you can do to help improve the lives of Native Americans still reeling from centuries of slaughter, forced migration, forced assimilation, and modern political policies like forced sterilization that deepen the mistrust indigenous folks have against white colonizers. While we all might not be able to give back the land our ancestors stole, there are a number of other things we can do to support our Original American neighbors. Today is also the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the kickoff of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.
While the sentimentality of a holiday to show gratitude for what we have is nice, we can’t deny the roots of Thanksgiving, which is why many Native American families and activists see the holiday as anything but something to be thankful for. The most important thing you as an individual can do to combat the mistruths we’re taught in school is to educate yourself and others as to the realities facing Native communities on a daily basis. It’s also important to be honest with children of all colors and races about the origins of our country and our holidays. One way to show your support for indigenous communities is to wear red on Friday, November 27th, and use the hashtags #NativeLivesMatter and #IdleNoMore on social media.
Native children, as they have under the Bureau of Indian Affairs for decades, also face incredible obstacles in achieving an education. Suicide rates amongst Native youth are astronomical, but all young people of color are much less hopeful to live to age 35 than their white peers. With South Dakota frequently taking Native American children from their families to place them in foster care (because the state earns money for every child under state care) the Lakota People’s Law Project is demanding that President Obama take action. You can sign their petition here.
Another petition you should sign is this one to stop the flooding of Winnemem Wintu’s last sacred location. While Obama has been lauded by many as a leader on environmental issues for not allowing the Keystone XL pipeline project to be built, there’s always room for improvement, and a delegation of more than 45 indigenous leaders from across the continent are making their way to Paris for the UN Climate Talks. Environmental issues are a major factor impacting the health, sovereignty and survivability of many Native American tribes. The President is also the target of demonstrations this weekend to grant clemency to Leonard Peltier, an American Indian Movement (AIM) activist charged with the murders of two FBI agents and the fierce AIM activist Anna Mae Aquash.
Unfortunately, despite an incredible history of strong, warrior women and equality for all sexes/genders in many Native cultures throughout the continent, murders of Native American and First Nations women are still rampant and sex trafficking regularly occurs with impunity. Follow the controversy with #MMIW which stands for missing and murdered Indigenous women. Native American women also deal with domestic violence and sexual assault at astounding rates. No better example of “the personal is political” exists than that of environmental degradation of fracking in North Dakota and its impact on the levels of violence against women and girls in the area. But Native women definitely aren’t giving up; they’re fighting back by creating safe spaces like Tewa Women United, the Four Directions Clinic on the infamous Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, and the first-ever Native American birthing center, planned to open in New Mexico within three years. With only 14 Native American certified midwives throughout the entirety of the US, you can see why such a project is necessary–donate to it here.
I owe my initial understanding and appreciation of other cultures to an elementary school classmate’s family. They are Me-wuk, and in my small public school in Northern California, took every opportunity they could to educate our class and our school. Native dancers came and performed for us and we took field trips to learn about them. Officially replacing the derogatory name “Digger Indians” placed on them by the invading gold miners, Miwok became the tribe’s official name in 1924. Although I have written before about how language shapes our realities, and I talk a lot about the importance of naming, labels and respecting identities, many readers may not know that I have a degree in Linguistics. I’ve studied 7 languages, including two indigenous languages, Nahuatl–the language of the Aztecs, and Miwok. Studying indigenous languages is a revolutionary act, especially because of the abhorrent relationship between Native Americans and their languages that white colonizers perpetuate to this day.
Studying a new language can give us a totally new understanding, by making us view the world through a different lens. In the course where I studied Miwok, other students were studying other languages, and I learned that many Indigenous languages group nouns based on shape–round, flat, long, etc. It’s also important to consider that many Native cultures understand their actions as affecting Seven Generations, and thus feel personally and politically obligated to take both their ancestors’ accomplishments and their offsprings’ futures into account. One way to ensure that Native Americans in our communities are not “in the past tense” is to do whatever we can to keep their unique languages from dying.
Marie Wilcox (right), the last fluent speaker of Wukchumni
National Geographic’s Enduring Voices Project shows that two areas of the United States are currently suffering from high to severe threat levels for the extinction of unique Indigenous languages, although even languages like Lakota with 6,000 speakers are still not safe. The Pacific Northwest is home to 54 Native languages, but many of them are on the verge of dying out completely. A Canadian project working to combat this is First Voices, which maps and archives Indigenous languages with soundbites and written dictionaries. Further down the coast the Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival work with UC Berkeley to document languages, and also created an incredible Master Apprentice Program for individuals to learn directly from speakers of Native languages. The other area of the United States where Indigenous languages are threatened with extinction is the Oklahoma-Southwest region, home to 43 different languages, including Euchee, a language isolate, meaning it doesn’t belong to any language family. Euchee only has five remaining speakers–to donate to the Euchee Language Project consider a recurring gift to Cultural Survival.
I know I’ve included a lot of plugs for donations in this post, but really it’s the least you could do. The Dolores Project homeless shelter could use your help as well. If giving money is totally not an option at this point though, supporting Indigenous artists in all media is a good place to start. You can play the unique Never Alone, the first Alaska Native videogame, buy fashions from these Native designers instead of appropriating their themes from big box stores, listen to these seven rising Native American musicians, learn from this intrepid mapmaker and his incredible work, and support Matika Wilbur’s photography with Project 562. If you’re in Santa Fe in mid-August, be sure to check out the Indigenous Fine Arts Market. There are also tons of Native American authors you can read and learn from. Eden Robinson’s Monkey Beach was really poignant for me. If you’d rather watch your storytelling, here is a list of 84 films by and about women of color, and if you’re branching further south, 4 documentaries about indigenous Mexicans. Now go forth, and dismantle colonialism!
Photographer Matika Wilbur (c) Tulalip News
1 Comment | tags: #16Days, #IdleNoMore, #MMIW, #NativeLivesMatter, 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, AIM, Alaska Native, American Indian Movement, Anna Mae Aquash, Bureau of Indian Affairs, California, Colonialism, Cook Inlet Tribal Council, Eden Robinson, Euchee, First Nations, Genocide, Iñupiaq, Immigration, Indigenous, Indigenous People, Indigenous women, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, Keystone XL, Lakota, Lakota People's Law Project, Language, Leonard Peltier, Marie Wilcox, Matika Wilbur, Miwok, Monkey Beach, Nahuatl, Native American, Native American Heritage Month, Native American women, Never Alone, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pilgrims, Red Power, Refugees, South Dakota, Tewa Women United, Thanksgiving, Winnemem Wintu, Wukchumni | posted in (Dis)ability, Environment, Post-Conflict/Disaster, Race/Ethnicity and Activism, Sex/Sexuality/Reproductive Justice, Strategic Nonviolent Action, Violence Against Women
#Day16 of #16Days–our final exploration of resources around the world for those affected by gender-based violence–leads us to Nigeria. Thankfully the resources available to folks facing violence and discrimination in Nigeria are much more plentiful than yesterday’s exploration of The Bahamas! Unfortunately these resources are much-needed as statistics show that at least one of every three women in Nigeria suffers from domestic violence and in some areas even physical violence against one’s spouse is not considered a crime. As many as 56% of women in parts of Nigeria are also subjected to female genital mutilation-FGM.
International non-governmental organizations, like Pathfinder International and CEDPA, are working in Nigeria to provide reproductive and maternal healthcare due to the astronomical rates of HIV/AIDS in the country. Nationally the Women’s Rights and Health Project engages “community leaders, policy makers, religious/traditional leaders and other stakeholder[s] in the promotion of women’s rights and health.” Their “Gender Based Violence programme is a comprehensive rights and health intervention which engages community based social structures in mitigation, prevention and control, access to Justice for survivors and general support.” They offer counseling services to young couples, provide marriage counseling, and referral services, and hold workshops and training in
- HIV/AIDS prevention and control
- Planning and implementation of community level interventions
- Economic empowerment
- Gender sensitization and awareness
- Leadership for community women
- Conflict Resolution and Management
Prof J. Odey facilitating a Focus Group Discussion with representatives of Women’s Groups at CIRDDOC Community Information Centre, Ikwo
The Civil Resource Development and Documentation Centre (CIRDDOC) “is an independent, non-governmental and not-for-profit organisation established in 1996 for the protection and promotion of human rights and women’s human rights and the strengthening of civil society. CIRDDOC is also committed to the institutionalization of good governance, gender equality and the rule of law in Nigeria.” Through public outreach, training, capacity building, the media, seminars, conferences, research, public hearings, civic education, counseling, advocacy, litigation, advice on budgeting and MANY other projects CIRDDOC hopes
- To promote human rights, women’s rights, gender equality, and good governance.
- To facilitate access to justice and the rule of law.
- To build capacity of civil society to demand accountability from leaders and policy makers.
- To facilitate networking, collaboration and partnerships among civil society organisations, and between government and civil society organisations.
The Gender and Transformative Leadership Training in Nigeria from WOCON
The Women’s Consortium of Nigeria holds a United Nations special Consultative Status for their work to enhance the status of women and their commitment to “related feminist goals and ideals.” They focus on human trafficking (in women and children), gender violence, civic education, grassroots advocacy, conferences and meetings, and political empowerment. They also offer a number of resources and explain how you can help. The aim of their work is
- To monitor the implementation of Women’s Rights for the attainment of equal status of women in all aspects of social political and economic development within the community and the nation at large.
- To organise and establish resource centres from which individual and organisations committed to feminist goals can share space equipments facilities and information on women issue or matters.
- To monitor and ensure the implementation of all commitments made by Government Bodies and Agencies through conventions charters regulations geared towards the welfare and enhancement of the status of women.
- To educate the public on the rights of women and the means of enforcing such rights for the achievement of equality, development and peace.
- To co-operate with National and International NGO’s and agencies by networking and co-alligning for the achievement of specific goals for the welfare and development of women.
- To set up temporary abode for distressed girls and women including battered women and to prepare such girls and women psychologically be counseling and other forms of therapy and education for a re-orientation towards attaining a better and more purposeful life in the society.
- To work for peace Women’s Rights and economic and social justice.
Regionally the West African Women’s Rights Coalition and in Nigeria WACOL– WomenAid Collective, was formed “to promote and advocate for the rights of women in the West African Sub Region using the African Union mechanisms, in particular the African Commission and ECOWAS.” They “are dedicated and committed to helping women and young people in need,” and envision “A democratic society free from violence and abuse where Human Rights of all, especially Women and young people are recognised in law and practice.” They provide shelter and legal aid to those affected by abuse and offer free legal aid hotlines at: 042-303333, 09-2340647, 084-572948 +234-0704-761-837, and +234-0704-761-839.
Project Alert on Violence Against Women opened the first battered women’s shelter in Nigeria, Sophia’s Place, back in 2001. In addition to shelter they offer legal aid and counseling services. Other work focuses on research and documentation and human rights education. They can be reached by phone at 234-1-8209387, 08052004698, and 08180091072, and by email at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out their blog here and join the conversation on Twitter with #speakupendabuse.
So many inspirational organizations exist in Nigeria and around the world that are striving everyday to end gender-based violence. The message of today’s International Human Rights Day is #HumanRights365 because everyone deserves all their human rights every single day of the year. It’s truly been my pleasure to virtually travel the globe as your tour guide over these past 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence! If you or someone you know needs help escaping abuse what we’ve learned is that it’s imperative you speak up. There is help- it’s here.
Leave a comment | tags: #16Days, #HumanRights365, #speakupendabuse, #VAW, 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, Abuse, CEDPA, CIRDDOC, Civil Resource Development and Documentation Centre, Domestic violence, Female Genital Mutilation, FGM, HIV/AIDS, Nigeria, Pathfinder International, Violence against women, WOCON, Women's Consortium of Nigeria, Women's Rights and Health Project | posted in Post-Conflict/Disaster, Sex/Sexuality/Reproductive Justice, Strategic Nonviolent Action, Violence Against Women
#Day15 of #16Days focuses on another Caribbean country, the islands of The Bahamas. Shockingly 45% of all homicides in the 20 years leading up to 2012 could be attributed to domestic violence in the islands. The government, under the Ministry of Social Services, does operate the Bureau of Women’s Affairs which presumably handles the Assistance for Persons Experiencing Domestic Violence where assistance is free to those who are willing to comply with the eligibility requirements: willingness to attend and participate in counseling and “willingness to share information.”
The government also offers community development like support groups and classes for the disabled in Braille and sign language, counseling, rehab and welfare services including rent assistance and discounted daycare. A two-day Symposium on Gender Equality and the Law in The Bahamas was held in September of this year, yet a constitutional referendum has been ongoing since 2002 to try to make citizenship laws and gender equality in The Bahamas more in line with the 21st Century. You can find a document outlining laws in The Bahamas regarding sexual assault and domestic violence here.
Of note is the legal definition of spousal rape: “Any person who has sexual intercourse with his spouse without the consent of the spouse —
(a) where there is in existence in relation to them — (i) a decree nisi of divorce; (ii) a decree of judicial separation; (iii) a separation agreement; or (iv) an order of a court for the person not to molest or co-habit with his spouse, or any other order made under Part II; or
(b) where the person has notice that a petition for judicial separation, divorce or nullity of marriage has been presented to a court, is guilty of the offence of sexual assault by spouse and liable to imprisonment for a term of fifteen years.” Yet the sentence for “unnatural connection with any animal” is twenty years….
According to the US Department of State 2013 Country Report on Human Rights Practices in The Bahamas “The law does not provide women with the same right as men to transmit citizenship to their foreign-born spouses. The law also makes it easier for men with foreign spouses than for women with foreign spouses to transmit citizenship to their children but more difficult for unmarried men (even if able to prove paternity). The law does not include gender as a basis for protection from discrimination. Women were generally free of economic discrimination, and the law provides for equal pay for equal work.” Additionally, pregnant girls in state-run schools are removed and put into special programs until after they give birth, and “The legal minimum age for marriage is 18, although girls may marry at 16 and boys at 17 with parental permission.”
There is no specific law protecting persons with physical or mental disabilities from discrimination in employment, education, access to health care, or the provision of other state services. Provisions in other legislation address the rights of persons with disabilities, including a prohibition of discrimination on the basis of disability. Although the law mandates access for persons with physical disabilities in new public buildings, authorities rarely enforced this requirement, and very few buildings and public facilities were accessible to persons with disabilities. Advocates for persons with disabilities complained of widespread job discrimination and general apathy on the part of private employers and political leaders toward the need for training and equal opportunity. In one case authorities denied access to public educational facilities for a mentally sound child with only physical limitations confining him to a wheelchair.
Societal discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals occurred, with some persons reporting job and housing discrimination based upon sexual orientation. Although same-sex sexual activity between consenting adults is legal, the law defines the age of consent for same-sex couples as 18, compared with 16 for heterosexual couples. No domestic legislation addresses the human rights concerns of LGBT persons. LGBT NGOs can openly operate in the country. The 2006 Constitutional Review Commission found that sexual orientation did not deserve protection against discrimination. LGBT NGOs reported that LGBT persons faced some discrimination in employment, and victims were frustrated at the lack of legal recourse.
Stigma and employment discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS were high, but there were no reports of violence against persons with HIV/AIDS. Children with HIV/AIDS also faced discrimination, and authorities often did not tell teachers that a child was HIV-positive for fear of verbal abuse from both educators and peers. The government maintained a home for orphaned children infected with HIV/AIDS.
All Saints Camp claims to be a refuge for those affected by HIV/AIDS in The Bahamas but the US Human Rights Report cited deplorable conditions and extremely substandard care. Their Facebook page argues that they do not have access to government funding but through the generosity of donors “the daily life at ASC has become worth living on a very very basic level – to maintain this goal is a constant and revolving challenge for all involved.”
The Bahamas Crisis Centre is not easy to find online, and their Facebook page doesn’t offer a lot of insight either, but they do operate a 24/7 hotline at 242-328-0922. It’s difficult to gauge how active they are currently but it looks like they have participated in a number of community events from toy drives for children at Christmas, to their Silent Witness Campaign to Take Back the Night. They and others throughout the Caribbean are listed here under Caribbean Crisis Centres and Women’s NGOs. Similarly elusive is the Bahamas LGBT Equality Advocates, or BLEA, but it is unclear what their role is or how they go about advancing equality.
Unfortunately for a country facing incredible amounts of gender-based violence and general inequality there are few organizations or resources there to help. Let’s hope the situation in Nigeria–for the last day of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence–is less bleak.
Leave a comment | tags: #16Days, 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, All Saints Camp, Bahamas Crisis Centre, Bahamas LGBT Equality Advocates, BLEA, Clothesline Project, Domestic violence, HIV/AIDS, LGBT, marital rape, Sexual Abuse and Assault, Sexuality, Silent Witness, spousal rape, Symposium on Gender Equality and the Law in The Bahamas, Take Back the Night, Violence against women | posted in (Dis)ability, Race/Ethnicity and Activism, Sex/Sexuality/Reproductive Justice, Strategic Nonviolent Action, Violence Against Women
From the multicultural islands of Singapore we head to the equally multicultural, albeit exponentially smaller, Central American country of Belize for #Day14 of #16Days. With an estimated 340,000 people in its borders statistics on Belize are much simpler to attain than many countries. One shelter in Belize sees 40-50 walk-in clients per month. A 1998 study stated that 50% of all women in Belize have been subject to domestic violence.
According to the World Economic Forum’s 2012 Gender Gap Report Belize ranked 102nd of 135 (the third worst in Latin America) in gender equality, despite tying many countries for first place in health and survival, because it ranked 77th in Economic Participation and Opportunity, 100th in Educational Attainment (the lowest rank in the region) and 131st in Political Empowerment. (The US ranked 8th, 33rd and 55th respectively, to give you a comparison.) Unfortunately for Belize since 2006 their score has just continued to fall.
The Women’s Department of the Ministry of Human Development aims to promote gender equality and equity. They propose doing this through:
- Community Development- The Department develops and coordinates services that are primarily aimed at assisting women to take on greater roles and responsibilities within the local community and enhance their skills and economic independence.
- Education- The Department organizes and facilitates educational workshops throughout the country on issues of interest to women and men. It participates in radio and television programs and hosts a resource library that houses books, reports and magazines and research papers that relate to women.
- Policy Development- The Department works along with NGO’s and other Government Ministries to lobby and advocate for the development of gender-sensitive policies and programs that will enhance the lives of women.
- Training- The Women’s Department offers course in Computer Literacy, Sewing, Cake Decorating, Arts & Craft,Personal Development and Gender Awareness.
The National Women’s Commission–appointed by the Ministry of Human Development and Social Transformation–”is a body of individual women and men appointed by the Government to function as a strategic guidance and oversight mechanism for the achievement of gender equality, equity and women’s empowerment in Belize.” A number of publications regarding women’s rights and gender equality are available on their website.
The Ministry of National Security operates the Belize Police Department Family Violence Unit. Their goal is to “assist the public in dealing with issues of family violence by offering direct services or in doing referrals to other relevant governmental agencies and NGO’s as the case may call for based on needs and the victim’s decision.” They can be reached at 501-227-2222. The government also provides a list of emergency numbers–city-by-city–here.
Two shelter programs are available to those seeking freedom from violence in Belize. “There is no direct line for Haven House shelter, however members of the public can contact the shelter through the women’s department at the Domestic Violence Unit, Police department. The numbers are 011-501-227-7397 and o11-501-227-3888.” Mary Open Doors also provides shelter to survivors of all genders who have faced abuse and violence. Their office is open Monday to Friday from 9am to 4pm and their Emergency Number is 629-6315. They offer:
- Education on the dynamics of domestic violence and your rights
- Immediate temporary shelter
- A fresh start to an independent and positive future
- No less than 21 days stay with basic needs
- Initial meeting with qualified social worker/ counselor
- Basic counseling
- Supportive parenting classes
- Court Advocacy
- Skills Training
The Cornerstone Foundation offers a number of programs. In addition to its Women Program which focuses on financial dependency, inadequate education and vocational skills, size of families, and domestic violence, they also have programs dedicated to Health, Youth, HIV/AIDS, Relief & Aid, Literacy and Community Linking.
WIN Belize–the Women’s Issues Network–hosted a 12-week National Women Leaders Training this year for women interested in a political career. “Over the years, WIN-Belize has worked on programs in the areas of: Organizational Development, Community Outreach and Communication, and Advocacy. The Network has, for example, implemented a successful Minimum Wage Campaign to raise the minimum wage for female-dominated jobs and eliminate gender disparities in the minimum wage levels for men and women. The Network has created awareness nationally, on the impact of globalization and trade issues on women. Several joint women’s empowerment projects involving the constituent groups of member agencies were also implemented.”
For such a small country the quality of their resources is impressive. Let’s hope their capacity continues to grow and that equality in Belize outpaces all other aspects of development. Keep up the good work!
Leave a comment | tags: #16Days, 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, 2012 Gender Gap Report, Belize, Cornerstone Foundation, Domestic Vioence, Haven House, Mary Open Doors, Ministry of Human Development, National Women's Commission, Violence against women, WIN Belize, Women's Department, Women's Issues Network, World Economic Forum | posted in Race/Ethnicity and Activism, Sex/Sexuality/Reproductive Justice, Strategic Nonviolent Action, Violence Against Women
As one of two places in Asia where English is the primary language, Singapore takes center stage on #Day13 of #16Days of Activism. Arguable one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world with a population nearing 5.5 million, the government of Singapore encourages multiculturalism, and recognizes English, Malay, Mandarin Chinese and Tamil as official languages. Singapore shines in some areas–like boasting the lowest infant mortality rate in the world and being the world’s most religiously diverse nation–and lacks in others–there is no minimum wage in the country and all public gatherings of five or more require police permits.
While reporting of domestic violence and the collection of statistical data related to gender-based or interpersonal violence has been difficult to assemble in Singapore, estimates currently state that nearly one in 10 women in Singapore were victimized at some point in their adult lives, and more than one-third of the survivors surveyed were afraid for their lives during the most recent incidence of violence. There are a handful or organizations on the 277 square mile island nation dedicated to helping everyone live free from fear and violence.
We Can! Singapore “uses interactive theatre, intimate workshops, and collaborative projects to reach out to individual Change Makers as well as community groups, provoking thought and discussion on the less obvious forms of violence against women…. [and] builds on the belief that change can be achieved when people recognise the problem of violence against women as their own, know that there is a better alternative, and feel empowered to make that change happen.”
A number of organizations exist that specialize in aiding folks with disabilities. The Asian Women’s Welfare Association “strives to empower caregivers and caregiving families of the disabled, the elderly as well as the chronically and terminally-ill through the provision of information, training and support programmes. We also work with caregivers to advocate for more caregiver-friendly policies, support and services for caregivers and their loved ones.” Care Corner operates Project START– Stop Abusive Relationships Together which aims to “provide community-based services for mentally incapacitated persons of family violence, and/or vulnerable persons with disability, etc. Care Corner Project StART handles various types of complex family violence cases that comprise of high risk. Care Corner Project StART provides family protection intervention work in the west and south region of Singapore.”
The National Council of Social Services “with the goal of enhancing the quality of social services for the disadvantaged, works closely with VWOs [Voluntary Welfare Organizations] to build their organisational capabilities for better management and delivery of social service programmes.” NCSS operates:
- Family Service Centres
Family Service Centres (FSCs) are a key community-based focal point and social service provider for families in need. The objectives of FSCs are to promote and improve the social well-being of every individual in the family, at every stage of life. FSCs are staffed with social workers and other professionals to provide a helping hand.
- Single-Parent Family Support Services
The objectives of a Single-Parent Programme are to support and promote the psycho-emotional well-being of single-parent families towards stability, growth and acceptance of the new family unit. The services provided include family casework and counselling, support groups, programmes for children, and public education.
- Services for Remarriages and Step-families
The holistic programme helps remarried couples and their families cope with their new roles and adjust in their reconstituted families. The services provided include family casework and counselling, support groups, programmes for children, and public education.
- Family Violence Prevention and Intervention Programme
The Family Violence Prevention and Intervention Programme aims to help victims, perpetrators and witnesses of family violence. It also aims to create greater awareness in the community about issues on family violence through public education and outreach. The programme involves services ranging from remedial services to preventive and developmental programmes. These include casework and counselling, group work, and workshops.
- Counselling Services
Counselling services aim to help those suffering from psychological issues, anxiety, and behavioural difficulties arising from relationship problems, addictions, bereavement and lifestyle pressures. Counselling helpline services are also available to provide a listening ear to anyone who needs to talk about their concerns. Information and referral are also available for those with specific needs.
- Suicide Prevention Service
Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) provides confidential 24-hour emotional support by trained volunteers to people in crisis, thinking of suicide or affected by suicide.
- Aftercare Case Management Service
The objective of the aftercare case management service is to facilitate the reintegration of ex-offenders into families and the society. Such service also aims to harness greater community resources in efforts to reintegrate ex-offenders.
The aftercare case management service assists ex-offenders in attaining employment/job training, securing accommodation, developing social support and coping skills, and attaining a positive lifestyle.
The Singapore Council of Women’s Organizations is the umbrella over 57 organizations in the country. Their aims and objectives include:
- To co-ordinate and act as a federation for women’s organisations, and to bring together all women leaders of Singapore;
- To create opportunities for member organisations to share information and collaborate with each other;
- To identify areas of common interest , and purpose, and furthering these through unified effort;
- To foster friendly relationships, goodwill and understanding amongst women, irrespective of origin, race, or religion;
- To provide leadership and work positively towards peace and understanding throughout the world by actively participating regionally and internationally with other like-minded organisations which subscribe to similar aims and objects;
- To promote and improve the status of women in Singapore in all fields, and where necessary, seek legislative and policy changes to ensure justice and equal opportunity for women as embodied in the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
- To serve as a resource centre for information about women in Singapore and carry out research and training programmes that will benefit women;
- To provide direct and support services that address the needs of women in Singapore, with special focus on the needs of vulnerable women.
PAVE–the first family violence specialist centre in Singapore– was created with the goal “to promote a healthy community, free from violence through improvement, collaboration and advocacy.” They provide counseling services, support groups, referrals, safety planning, help with obtaining protective orders, public education, research and training. They can be reached at 6555 0390.
AWARE– the Association of Women for Action and Research- is “Singapore’s leading gender equality advocacy group” whose aim is to “remove all gender-based barriers so as to allow individuals in Singapore to develop their potential to the fullest and realise their personal visions and hopes.” They do this through research and advocacy, education and training and by providing direct support services. AWARE operates the Sexual Assault Care Center Monday through Friday from 10am-midnight, the Helpline for survivors of domestic violence Monday through Friday from 3pm-9:30pm at 1800-774-5935 and a Free Legal Clinic. They also have a ton of great information on their website, including safety planning, getting a restraining order and contact information for a number of other organizations in Singapore dedicated to ending violence against women and promoting gender equality.
With all these great resources available for survivors of abuse and domestic violence in Singapore hopefully soon their human rights record will be on par with their education and healthcare system. If anyone knows of organizations within Singapore that are working directly on the justice system there please share them in the comments! Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the remaining few days of #16DaysofActivism!
Leave a comment | tags: #16Days, (Dis)ability, 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, Asian Women's Welfare Association, Association of Women for Action and Research, AWARE, Care Corner, Domestic violence, National Council of Social Services, PAVE, Projectt StART, Race, Singapore, Singapore Council of Women's Organizations, Violence against women, We Can! Singapore | posted in (Dis)ability, Race/Ethnicity and Activism, Sex/Sexuality/Reproductive Justice, Strategic Nonviolent Action, Violence Against Women
#Day12 of #16Days of Activism lands us up north, in the great nation of Canada. With a population of over 35 million, and half of all women (according to a 1993 study) experiencing physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives, no wonder today has been named the National Day Of Remembrance And Action On Violence Against Women by Canada’s Parliament. A new study shows how domestic violence impacts women in the workplace, and how employers can address and reduce it.
Due to the astronomical levels of violence against indigenous women, groups like the incredibly badass Native Youth Sexual Health Network are invaluable. They clearly understand the links between reproductive justice and environmental issues, the role men play in ending violence against women, how to combat elder abuse, and in addition to advocacy, outreach and community mobilization, also do “media arts justice work including short films and videos, diverse arts-based responses, media campaigns, zines, declaration and statement writing, and community-based participatory action research” and
- Culturally safe sex education
- Reclaiming rites of passage, coming of age ceremonies and traditional knowledge
- Healthy relationships and violence prevention
- Pregnancy options, youth parenting and families
- Environmental justice and environmental violence
- Harm reduction
- Two-Spirited and LGBTTIQQA advocacy and awareness
- Sexually Transmitted and Blood Borne Infections (STBBIs) and HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention
- Youth in custody, jail, prison and the child welfare system
- Sex trade, sex industries and street economies
- Indigenous feminisms and masculinities
- Sexual self-esteem and empowerment
- Media literacy
- Youth activism and human rights
The Canadian Women’s Foundation is another organization working to end violence against women in Canada. Their multi-prong approach to this enormous problem ensures that not only are women able to get to safety in the shelter, but they are able to rebuild their lives in communities that support them.
We help women in Canada to move out of violence by funding emergency shelters and programs that help survivors to rebuild their lives. We are working to end the crime of sex trafficking in Canada, by helping women and girls to escape from traffickers and by working with local stakeholders to create action plans. We also invest in school-based violence-prevention programsthat teach girls and boys to stop the violence — for good.
Some governmental offices, like the Department of Justice that operates the Victim Services Directory, and The Public Health Agency which hosts the National Clearinghouse on Family Violence, work alongside non-governmental organizations both nationally, like The Canadian Women’s Health Network, and locally, like Legal Aid Ontario and the Assaulted Women’s Helpline– available 24/7 at 1.866.863.0511. For young people Canada also has the Kids Help Phone, available 24/7 at 1.800.668.6868. Each province in Canada also has its own domestic violence and/or sexual assault hotlines and shelters; their numbers can be found here. Our neighbors to the north may have the right idea with socialized healthcare and education, so hopefully they are on the right track towards ending gender-based violence as well!
Leave a comment | tags: #16Days, 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, Canada, Canadian Women's Foundation, Domestic violence, National Day of Remembrance, Native Youth Sexual Health Network, Reproductive justice, White Ribbon Day | posted in Environment, Race/Ethnicity and Activism, Sex/Sexuality/Reproductive Justice, Strategic Nonviolent Action, Violence Against Women
With an estimated 1.2 million inhabitants Trinidad & Tobago is one of the smallest English-speaking countries in the world, and takes center stage on #Day11 of #16Days of Activism. The Ministry of the People & Social Development there argues that violence against women remains a pervasive challenge in the 21st century. The government operates Drop-In Centres for survivors which “offers counselling and other forms of intervention to victims or perpetrators of domestic violence, including victims of rape and incest. This programme also provides information and referral services to persons who require assistance to deal with other personal and family issues such as drug abuse, anger management, conflict management and teenage pregnancy. Counseling and support are also available 24 hours a day through the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (868) 800-SAVE (7283).” The centers are open:
Manzanilla Community Centre – 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
La Horquetta Regional Complex – 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Monroe Road Community Centre – 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Chaguanas Community Centre – 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Maloney Community Centre – 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Valencia Community Centre – 4:30 pm to 6:00 pm
Maracas Valley Community Centre – 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm
Penal Central Community Centre – 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Valencia Community Centre – 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm
Maracas Valley Community Centre – 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Families in Action is “an effort to address the growing problem of drug addiction emerging in our communities.” They operate a 24/7 helpline to support people facing addiction at (868) 628-2333 and offer referrals, counseling and community outreach. The Caribbean NGO Database offers numerous resources throughout Trinidad & Tobago and the entire Caribbean community that address gender-based violence.
Many organizations are listed under the Caribbean NGO Database so that they can have the most impact. Madina House is a Muslim-run shelter for women and their children (boys under 12) who are escaping Domestic Violence. The Hope Shelter originated as a sort of co-op shelter where the participants staying there would assist with farming and ranching. The Nekeva Rescue Centre aims to “provide a safe place where abused women can be rehabilitated to become self-sufficient, productive members of society.” The Halfway House “offers a secure and supporting atmosphere in which battered women and children receive food and shelter, professional counselling services, and legal assistance.”
The Rape Crisis Society of Trinidad & Tobago was created “to address the issues of sexual and Domestic Violence, particularly as they impact on the most vulnerable members of society, through counselling and public education.” Their objectives were outlined as follows:
-To Lobby for the development of laws, institutions and procedures to protect women and children and to deter would- be offenders
-To educate the public and would-be offenders about sexual violence issues through our outreach programmes (Lectures, workshops, panel discussion, videos)
-To improve the quality of service and support provided by the centre especially in the counselling of volunteers and clients
-To maintain and establish links with organisations devoted to the empowerment and advancement of women and with other institutions concerned with social development and research
-To improve organisation structures and systems , and the overall management of the Rape Crisis Society.
The Organization for Abused and Battered Individuals was established with the hope of “work[ing] in the area of violence prevention, training and education, and the enhancement of life.” A large part of the work they do is in Prevention Training, they also provide:
- All services include an holistic approach and includes Education, Professional and Personal Life, Health and Spirituality (awareness of peace and purpose)
Prevention training for private and public organizations.
Prevention training for schools and religious institutions.
Prevention training for communities and grassroots NGO’s
Training for persons who deal with victims of abuse and care for children who are victims of the same.
Group support for victims of abuse.
Strong Referral Programs
Victim Assistant support and training.
Poverty alleviation and training to become self-sustainable.
While there are not many organizations in Trinidad & Tobago working on gender equality and putting an end to domestic violence, the ones that are there seem to be doing great work. Let’s support them in creating a violence-free Caribbean… and world.
Leave a comment | tags: #16Days, 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, Caribbean NGO Database, Drop-In Centres, Families in Action, Halfway House, Hope Shelter, Madina House, Ministry of the People & Social Development, Nekeva Rescue Centre, Organization for Abused and Battered Individuals, Rape Crisis of Trinidad & Tobago, Tobago, Trinidad, Trinidad & Tobago, Violence against women | posted in Sex/Sexuality/Reproductive Justice, Strategic Nonviolent Action, Violence Against Women
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.
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
…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.
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.
Leave a comment | tags: #16Days, 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, Appogg Agency, Commission on Domestic Violence, Domestic violence, Malta, National Council of Women of Malta, Positive Parenting, Supportline 179, Violence against women | posted in Strategic Nonviolent Action, Violence Against Women
#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.
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
Information and Support with:
- Legal Protection
- Jobs and Work
- Training and Education
- Health Care
- Benefits and Finances
- Housing and Accommodation
- 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.”
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.
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.
Leave a comment | tags: #16Days, 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, Amen, Crime Victims Helpline, Domestic violence, FLAC, Irealand, Irish Immigrant Support Center, Men Overcoming Violence, MOVE Ireland, National Freephone Helpline, One in Four, Rape Crisis Network Ireland, Safe Ireland, Violence against women, Women's Aid | posted in Post-Conflict/Disaster, Sex/Sexuality/Reproductive Justice, Strategic Nonviolent Action, Violence Against Women
#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.
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.
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.”
One 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.
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!
Leave a comment | tags: #16Days, 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, Bureau of Women's Affairs, Caribbean, Caribbean Conference on Domestic Violence and Gender Equality, Crisis Center Hotline, Do Good Jamaica, Domestic violence, Ishawna, Jamaica, Jamaica Youth Theatre, Sexual Abuse and Assault, UNAIDS, Violence against women, Woman Incorporated, Women's Media Watch Jamaica, Women's Resource and Outreach Center, World AIDS Day | posted in (Dis)ability, Post-Conflict/Disaster, Sex/Sexuality/Reproductive Justice, Strategic Nonviolent Action, Violence Against Women