Tag Archives: Sexual assault

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.

 

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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.

1800RESPECT-Poster
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.

 


You Might Be a Rapist

I know the title is startling, unless you read it in your best Jeff Foxworthy voice, but I gotta get your attention somehow. *Trigger Warning: please contact RAINN for help* And if it made you think twice about that one encounter you had in college with someone who was way drunk, or that time you pressured someone into doing something they weren’t comfortable with, you might be a rapist.

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Since the New Year is quickly approaching and making resolutions is a thing people do I thought I’d make a list for you of things that may make you a sexual predator, so you can be sure to not do them in your lifetime. Heregoes, you might be a rapist:

  • If you think you have a “right” to have sex with anyone, including your spouse
  • If you think what I’m wearing means I want to have sex with you
  • If you think you’re owed sex for buying coffee or a drink or dinner
    bad date
  • If you stare, grunt, yell, honk or touch yourself when looking at someone you find attractive
  • If you masturbate to Toddlers and Tiaras *pedophile rapist*
  • If you think “nice tits” is an appropriate compliment for anyone other than your partner (who does not object to it)
  • If you think it is complimentary to harass strangers in public
  • If you feel compelled to only compliment strangers of the gender(s) to which you are attracted
  • If you date people with whose race/ethnicity you don’t identify because you think they’re “easier”  *racist rapist*
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  • If you use the word easy to describe people
  • If you prefer porn where someone is “asleep” or looks like they are actively being violently and non-consensually assaulted
  • If you think an underage girl is a predator preying on older men, is equally responsible for her assault or has any age other than her biological age *pedophile rapist*
  • If you think someone has to have sex with you to prove they love you
  • If you use diminutive pet words when talking to people in the service industry
  • If you refuse to use condoms/birth control… Assange *cough*
    prison-rape-ad
  • If you think prisons are funny
  • If you think high school football and/or football players are more important than women’s bodily integrity
  • If you LOVE American Apparel ads
  • If you believe that “real rape” is when a black man jumps out of the bushes with a gun and rapes a white woman *racist rapist*
  • If you think rape survivors whom you don’t find attractive (ie. larger, older or disabled) should be grateful
  • If you don’t take survivors’ stories seriously
  • If you think that successful, attractive men couldn’t rape anyone
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  • If you support celebrities, politicians and international icons who are running from the law because of sexual assault charges
  • If you threaten people with rape when you don’t like what they say
  • If you think male-identified people can’t be/aren’t raped and assaulted
  • If you inversely judge men and women by the number of sex partners they’ve had
  • If you think that testing rape kits for DNA evidence is wasteful or should not be a priority for the justice system
  • If you think our legal system brings justice for survivors of assault
  • If in college you chanted about raping someone’s underage sister
    smu-frosh-chant
  • If you don’t recognize that someone drunk, sleeping or terrified cannot consent to sex
  • If you think “I know you want it” is a pick-up line
  • If you don’t take no for an answer
  • If you pester someone until their no is a “fine!”
  • If you think silence = consent
  • If you joke about rape
  • If you think rape is a women’s issue

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Ok, certainly many of these things do not actually make you a rapist, but they do absolutely make you an active, encouraging participant in rape culture, so stop it! Nothing but equality and enthusiastic consent will do!

Happy Holidays loves and remember: everyone’s race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, (dis)ability, class and age all factor in to how rape culture works for or against them, so check your privilege.

 


My Right to Bodily Autonomy

SA Awareness & Prevention Month

*Trigger Warning: Sexual Violence* Take care of yourself. If you need to talk to someone, contact RAINN.

Meet Us On The StreetThis week, April 7-13, is International Anti-Street Harassment Week and April is both Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Abortion Wellbeing Month, an overlap that is very personal to me. I have been harassed on the street more times than I can count. I am a survivor of sexual assault, rape and childhood sexual abuse. I am also an abortion provider. Though these might not seem to have anything to do with each other, since my assaults thankfully did not result in pregnancy, they are intrinsically linked. Each assault I have endured and the violence I face as an abortion provider are affronts to my right to bodily autonomy. My tragedies, however, have shaped who I am as an individual: I am a warrior for equality.

Not Public SpaceThe restricting of access to abortion and sexual assault both serve one purpose–to control women by controlling their bodies. For women in the United States and around the world to be well, to be whole, equal and productive citizens women must first have the right to control their own bodies. The right to say no to unwanted physical contact and the right to make informed decisions about what medical procedures we choose to undergo are basic human rights. If I have sex and get pregnant and do not want to continue to be pregnant, I have the right to terminate the pregnancy because my body is mine alone and the responsibility for caring for the pregnancy would be mine alone. If I am a stranger, if I say no, if I stay silent, if I am crying, you have no right to my body. Consent is sexy and only an emphatic YES! means yes.

If rape were audible

While hapless pundits wonder if violence against women is something that women really worry about, from Stubenville, Ohio to Delhi, India rape and sexual assault happen every moment of every day all around the world.

Laugh:Kill- M Atwood

And each attack transforms its victim and its perpetrator. The healing process for survivors can be long and painful but so many initiatives now exist to put an end to sexual violence that the tides may be turning. Women in Kenya have filed a lawsuit against their government for failing to protect them from rape! From tackling street harassment with Meet Us On The Street and Hollaback! to a mom taking on Facebook‘s “controversial humor” pages glorifying sexual violence to Denim Day to the No More, Who Are You? and Where is Your Line? campaigns to comics and cell phone apps, more and more people are realizing that the strength of our numbers will ultimately win.

Not in Kansas

Unfortunately in the US abortion rights are backsliding.

If men could get pregnant

While France has made contraception and abortion free for all women, here in the US we are still fighting for the right to buy prescriptions for birth control at our local pharmacies. North Dakota has banned abortion after 6 weeks, has only one abortion provider AND has a 72 hour waiting period. Ohio is working to make abortion illegal, as is Alabama. Iowa is trying to restrict abortion access for female inmates. Texas is seriously thinking about making it that much harder to get an abortion.  Kansas lawmakers have been granted the right to lie to their patients and disrespect rape victims while making all abortion basically illegal. And Indiana, Virginia and North Carolina are in on this racket too. Sadly, recent news has shown us, as has history time and again, that without access to abortion women die. The United Nations has recently declared that denying abortions is tantamount to torture.

ResponsibilitySome states are defending Reproductive Justice; Oregon is considering a bill that would require Crisis Pregnancy Centers (non-medically licensed religiously affiliated centers that lie to women to prevent them from having abortions) to disclose what services they actually offer and comply with federal medical regulations regarding patient confidentiality. Also, Washington is trying to mandate insurance coverage for abortion care, and New York is attempting to broaden the availability of abortion. One recent victory for women in the US is the ruling that Emergency Contraception, also known as Plan B or The Morning After Pill, must be made available over-the-counter for all women. Health professionals and activists have been fighting for this for years and even though some states still oppose regular daily oral contraceptives, making EC more available will reduce abortion rates, which ultimately is everyone’s goal. And though Christian and Republican arguments against birth control and EC defy logic, it is a reasonable assumption that if everyone had access to comprehensive sex education and contraception that the rates of unintended pregnancy, and by default abortion, would be lower. The voice of reason now, our voices, must be heard if we want to see any change in this War on Women.

Fierce FloresOne courageous lawmaker this week, Assemblymember Lucy Flores (D-Nevada), disclosed to the public that she has had an abortion. Her compelling personal story of abortion being a positive life-changing experience for her comes at a time when most women would never dream of telling anyone they had an abortion. Though more than 1/3 of all American women will have an abortion at least once by age 45, a good 80% of my patients believe they don’t know anyone else who has had an abortion. The trepidation that women feel at disclosing this is both maddening and understandable: Flores has received death threats since admitting she does not regret having an abortion. This stifling of choice, and backlash against women who exercise their legal right to abortion, is one more spark igniting violence against women in the United States.

North Dakota

If we want equality, and I know some people don’t, we must respect women. We must respect women’s right to bodily autonomy. If women’s bodily autonomy were respected the rates of sexual assault would plummet, and women who have abortions would not be demonized for their choices. For Sexual Assault Awareness Month, share resources with your friends, be supportive of those who have been assaulted, speak out against rape jokes, and volunteer with or donate to your local rape crisis center. For Abortion Wellbeing Month, share your stories with your friends, be supportive of women or couples facing unwanted pregnancies, speak out against politicians interfering in medicine, and volunteer as an escort at your local clinic, or donate to your local abortion fund. Below are some tips on respecting bodily autonomy: what constitutes consent and how male allies can get in on the good fight and stop rape and street harassment. As always any comments, links, ideas and critiques are welcome as long as they are respectful and constructive. Carry on, dear reader, the fight for human rights needs you!

Only Yes Means Yes

Teach Men Not to Rape

6 Things Men Can Do To Stop Street Harassment


Am I just paranoid, or…

Just because you’re paranoid don’t mean they’re not after you. – Kurt Cobain

I think that many of my female readers share my feelings of paranoia but if not please let me know I’m just crazy. With this post it is my male readers I hope to speak to. The purpose of this post is in no way to blame all men for the immoral and illegal choices of some men, rather, the aim of this post is to put more fire in the bellies of male allies in the fight for women’s equality. I also in no way mean to diminish or minimize the experiences of men, boys and transgender individuals who have been sexually assaulted or raped. Their traumas are just as real as any woman’s and certainly are not given the weight in our society that they should be. With this post I want you to know specifically what my grievances are, how I feel as a woman on a daily basis, and, most importantly, what you can do to help. With everything in the news lately and all the statistics available surrounding the heinous rates of violence against women and sexual assault and rape around the world, it’s easy for me to feel like women, and our rights, are under attack.

For most of my life I have felt vulnerable simply because I am female, to the point that I’ve taken self defense classes. I’m sure some of this fear comes from having been repeatedly sexually assaulted by male relatives as a girl, but even now, as an adult woman, I find my mind shift to dark thoughts quite often when I am in the company of strangers. To live in constant fear of violence is absurd and ultimately will make you crazy, and I hate that I buy into the rape culture myth that violence against women, especially sexual violence, happens at night when a stranger jumps out from around a corner and tackles you.

Most rapes are committed by someone the victim knows and 50% of all rape/sexual assaults occur within 1 mile of the victim’s home! The Service Women’s Action Network also explains how prevalent rape and sexual assault against members of the US military is in this publication. See previous posts on violence against women including Violence Against Women in the US, The Clothesline Project, Take Back the Night, the V-Day MovementRAINN and NDVH, and others for more information on the situation of women in the US.

Women in other parts of the world are in even more frightening situations. Today Al-Jazeera posted this article explaining why Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan, India and Somalia are the top five most dangerous places in the world to be a woman. Reasons ranging from the feminization of poverty, rape as a weapon of war, and harmful religious and cultural practices, to female infanticide and female genital mutilation affect the safety and livelihoods of women in these places.

Back in the US, Republicans are taking their misogyny global by trying to defund Planned Parenthood at home and abroad, using “states’ rights” rhetoric to make abortion unattainable for the most vulnerable women in their districts, and trying to reinstate the Global Gag Rule, which really does just make me want to gag. But women and men are standing up for equality and human rights, including the 373 people who sent in pictures of themselves to NARAL Pro-Choice’s Stop the War on Women video to the US Senate, the fierce founders and participants of the Hollaback! movement to stop street harassment, and the thousands (millions?) of people who have participated in SlutWalks around the world to protest a culture of victim-blaming surrounding sexual assault. SlutWalk deserves its very own post, despite the massive amount of press it’s already received, so look out for that.

I think our biggest issue in victim-blaming comes from our rape culture myth that what women wear or do or say affects their chances of being raped: it doesn’t. Women should not have to protect themselves or change the way they want to appear for fear of rape: People should not rape. Period. Women have been objectified by American society for quite some time and while reinforcing that women are objects to be seen is not ideal, women should be allowed to be seen however they want, and should be able to have sex with whomever they want, without any individual thinking that anything other than clear and sober consent means yes to sex. And in the spirit of Hollaback! what I choose to wear does not give you permission to yell at me either.

So, with all this in mind, am I just paranoid or

-do you wonder whenever you’re in the shower or using a public restroom or having sex with someone for the first time if a webcam is broadcasting your nakedness all over the internet?
-do you also check your backseat whenever you get in your car to make sure a stranger or stalker isn’t waiting to rape and/or kill you?
-do you get nervous when you step into a full elevator, worried that someone might touch you in an unwanted and sexual way?
-do you think twice before going somewhere you are unfamiliar with, in case there are dark corners for bad people to hide in?
-do you feel like you’re being watched in a disgusting, lustful way by men of all ages all the time?
-do you remind yourself that yelling “fire” is more likely to garner help than yelling “rape” when you feel like someone is following you?
-do you carry your keys in your hands, extended between your fingers as you make a fist when you walk home after dark?
-do you avoid making eye contact with strangers for fear that they will misread your friendliness for a sexual advance and then rape you?
-do you wonder, whenever you’re in a group, how many of the people with you have raped someone, or have been raped?
-do you have any idea what it’s like to feel like you’re the constant target of society’s violent sexual urges and need to control?

Ladies? Gentlemen?

But cheer up, there are lots of ways you can help!

-Don’t rape anyone: passed out, drunk, wearing next-to-nothing, came onto you before, had sex with you before, started a sexual encounter and then changed her/his mind, is underage… just don’t.
-If that isn’t clear, read this.
-If you still don’t get it, watch this.
-Don’t tell rape jokes.
-Don’t use the word rape to complain about the way your school, bank, job, or government is treating you.
-Don’t let your friends get away with telling rape jokes. Explain to them why it is hurtful, wrong and dangerous.
-Don’t let your friends get away with using rape to complain about institutions.
-If you hear someone bragging about a sexual assault or rape, call the police.
-If you’re in public and you hear/see someone harassing/assaulting someone else, call the police.
-If you hear/see domestic violence taking place, call the police.
-March in rallies for human rights, healthcare, immigration rights, economic freedom and marriage equality.
-Call or email your lawmakers and tell them to end the backlog of untested rape kits in your local police departments.
-Call or email your lawmakers and tell them to support the International Violence Against Women Act.
-Sign this petition to demand that the FBI change the definition of rape from “The carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will” to something that includes date rape, oral, anal and statutory rape, rape with an object, finger or fist and rape of men.
-And share this post, and the many others out there like it written by feminist who are tired of being afraid, with anyone who can and will read it. Thanks for your support!




				

Day 20- RAINN & NDVH

I love acronyms. I think they’re immensely useful. Two of my favorite acronyms are RAINN and NDVH.

RAINN is the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, and NDVH is the National Domestic Violence Hotline, both of which are primarily US organizations. I have posted their contact information at least twice in the past week but wanted today to focus on their work and explain how they help to combat violence against women. There is also a free NDVH in the UK.

RAINN provides startling statistics as to the nature of sexual violence in the US: every 2 minutes someone in the US is sexually assaulted, 44% of victims are under age 18 and 80% are under 30, 60% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police, roughly 2/3 of sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows, and 15 out of 16 rapists will never spend a day in jail.

For more information regarding sexual assault statistics, victims, offenders, and reporting, go to the respective links. RAINN offers information on different types of sexual assault including rape, incest, child sexual abuse, stalking and many other violent crimes. There is also advice for what to do in the aftermath of sexual assault, how to recover from sexual assault, information about the possible effects of sexual assault, and tips for computer safety.

RAINN has many high-profile supporters, including Rachel Bilson, Tori Amos, Blythe Danner, Cybill Shepherd, Law & Order:SVU’s Mariska Hargitay, and national spokesperson Christina Ricci, who lend their faces and voices to Public Service Announcements.

This organization also works to adjust public policyThese links offer information and support for various issues surrounding sexual assault such as drugs and rape, male rape, mental health, military resources, and international resources, and here is a list of resources by state. You can search for a local rape crisis center here or call the National Sexual Assault Hotline toll-free at 1.800.656.HOPE (4673) for live help.

To show your commitment to ending sexual violence, get involved by contacting your representatives about public policy or volunteering, shop at one (or all!) of these many retailers or support RAINN through their numerous donation options. RAINN also offers 5 different internships in Washington D.C.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline here gives information on signs of various types of domestic violence, including emotional, physical and sexual abuse. NDVH also offers information for abusers and witnesses to abuse as to how to help end the violence. Teen dating abuse is explored here and this information specifically addresses the unique situation of immigrant women in dealing with DV. Women with hearing disabilities can find useful information here.

NDVH offers these resources and advice for safety planning. To find help in your area, such as shelters and coalitions, go here. You can contact the hotline here or by calling toll-free 1−800−799−SAFE (7233) or TTY 1−800−787−3224. También hay información sobre la violencia contra mujeres en español.

 

You can support the hotline and its work by volunteering, shopping here or making a donation. You are also encouraged to share your voice in hopes that others might see themselves in your story and find a way out of an abusive situation. Numerous celebrities also support NDVH and appear in their PSAs including Salma Hayek, Martina McBride and Marlee Matlin.


Day 16- Denim Day Movement

Yesterday we saw how The Clothesline Project uses T-shirts to raise awareness of and combat the acceptability of violence against women. Today we will explore how another ordinary article of clothing, jeans, can spread a message of hope, courage, support, and most of all, that “Yes means yes, no means no: whatever we wear, wherever we go!” 

This year Denim Day will fall on (or around) April 27. The date changes slightly each year but the Denim Day in LA website is regularly updated. Peace Over Violence, the organizers of Denim Day in LA, describe the event this way:

“It is a rape prevention education campaign, where we ask community members, elected officials, businesses and students to make a social statement with their fashion statement and on this day wear jeans as a visible means of protest against misconceptions that surround sexual assault.”

Denim Day was inspired by a rape case in Italy in which the Italian Supreme Court overturned a rape conviction because, the judge argued, the victim was wearing tight jeans, and so must have helped her attacker take them off, thus consenting to sex. To protest the ridiculous verdict women of the Italian parliament protested by wearing jeans to work. News of the protest spread to California where our legislators did the same, and when the Executive Director of Peace Over Violence heard about it, Denim Day in LA was born. That was in 1999 and Denim Day has taken place across the globe since then.

The outrage that followed this case continues today as many states in the US do not have laws about rape that contain the word “consent” but rather identify rape solely by penetration. My biggest complaint with rape laws in the US (other than their complete lack of enforceability) is that the justice system currently does not consider a man forcing a woman to continue having sex to be rape. That is, once a woman consents to an act of sex, she then has no power to terminate it. It’s infuriating that in 2011 we are still debating whether women should have the right to control their own bodies (in this and many other contentious areas).

Many organizations, such as the Missouri Department of  Health & Senior Services offer toolkits for organizing your own Denim Day, and Denim Day is an internationally recognized event, taking place in communities and college campuses around the world. Nearly all domestic violence and rape/sexual assault shelters and organizations also participate in Denim Day, so if you are interested in helping out and helping to squash myths surrounding sexual assault, contact your local shelters to see if they can use volunteers.

 

Also from the Denim Day in LA website:

MYTHS & REALITIES ABOUT SEXUAL ASSAULT

Rape is not sex, it is violence

Myth: Women encourage rape by wearing sexy, suggestive clothing. If someone dresses conservatively they are less likely to be raped.

Reality: Research consistently shows that rape is about the need to act out power and control, not what a person wears. In fact, women and girls have been raped while wearing everything from pajamas to jeans to business suits.

Myth: Most rapes occur in a dark alley by a stranger.

Reality: About 75% of rape victims are assaulted by someone they know . . . intimates or acquaintances. This could include dates, family members, boyfriends, and husbands.

Myth: If a woman consents once to sex with someone, she can’t ever be raped by him. If she knows

him or is in a relationship with him, she can’t be raped.

Reality: Coercing or forcing someone to have sex against their will is sexual violence. Knowing, dating, being married or related to, is not a license to rape.

Myth: He’s attractive and successful. Anyone would want to be with him. He couldn’t be a rapist.

Reality: Rapists come from all types of backgrounds and all walks of life. Money and success does not preclude committing a crime, but in some cases it has helped avoid a conviction.

If you or someone you know needs help here are some organizations that can offer support:

 

National Hotlines:

Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network (RAINN)
800.656.HOPE (4673)
http://www.rainn.org/

National Domestic Violence Hotline

800.799.SAFE (7233)
800.787.3224 TDD
http://www.thehotline.org/

 


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