Tag Archives: #VAW

Day 16 of 16 Days of Activism: Nigeria

#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

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 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. 

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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 projectalert@projectalertnig.org and info@projectalertnig.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.


Day 6 of 16 Days of Activism: South Africa

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

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

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

There are some very specialized programs in South Africa.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. SECTOR CAPACITY BUILDING AND STRENGTHENING

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

2. LAW REFORM

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

3. RIGHT’S EDUCATION

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

4. REGIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL STRATEGIC ADVOCACY

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

5. SHELTERING AND COUNSELLING

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

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

 


Day 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.

 


Day 2 of 16 Days of Activism: USA

#Day2 of #16Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence showcases resources available in the United States to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking. We are fortunate in the US to have many, many local programs dedicated to helping survivors of these human rights atrocities, and these national organizations can help you locate them if needed.

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The National Domestic Violence Hotline has been highlighted here many times before. From their website:

Operating around the clock, seven days a week, confidential and free of cost, the National Domestic Violence Hotline provides lifesaving tools and immediate support to enable victims to find safety and live lives free of abuse. Callers to the Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) can expect highly trained experienced advocates to offer compassionate support, crisis intervention information and referral services in over 170 languages.  Visitors to this site can find information about domestic violence, safety planning, local resources and ways to support the organization.

The Hotline is part of the largest nationwide network of programs and expert resources and regularly shares insight about domestic violence with government officials, law enforcement agencies, media and the general public. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is a non-profit organization established in 1996 as a component of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

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The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network has been highlighted here as well. They describe themselves as:

the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization and was named one of “America’s 100 Best Charities” by Worth magazine. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE and online.rainn.org) in partnership with more than 1,100 local rape crisis centers across the country and operates the DoD Safe Helpline for the Department of Defense. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help victims and ensure that rapists are brought to justice.

and

Polaris Project

The Polaris Project which I have not had the pleasure of writing about before.

Polaris, named after the North Star that guided slaves to freedom in the U.S., disrupts the conditions that allow human trafficking to thrive in our society. From working with government leaders to protect victims’ rights, to building partnerships with the world’s leading technology corporations, we spark long-term change that focuses communities on identifying, reporting and eliminating trafficking networks. Our comprehensive model puts victims at the center of all that we do — helping survivors restore their freedom, preventing more victims, and gathering the data to pursue traffickers wherever they operate.

Unparalleled expertise. Relentlessness. And an innovative spirit. This is how Polaris eradicates the slavery networks that rob human beings of their lives and their independence.

Freedom happens now.

DV in the US

The United States is also privileged to host such amazing organizations as ADWAS– The Abused Deaf Women’s Advocacy Project, The Shalom Task Force, The National Human Trafficking Resource Center and Love Is Respect, plus hotlines for every state in the nation, plus many territories like Puerto Rico. While we still have a long way to go before we’re rid of this scourge, the ever-growing number of resources available to help survivors live free from violence is definitely something to be thankful for.


Day 1 of 16 Days of Activism: The Pixel Project

Today kicks off #Day1 of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence! Everyday I’ll be showcasing resources in different countries that help people live lives free from violence. The Pixel Project has a fantastic running library of Tweets with the contact information for various domestic violence and sexual assault hotlines around the world. Follow them @PixelProject, use #16DaysofActivism or just #16Days, get ready to #OrangeUrHood, and like them on Facebook.

Pixel Project

They have some awesome posts about ways you can participate in stopping the epidemic that is domestic violence, like:
16 Ways to Stop Domestic Violence in Your Community
16 Ways You Can Support a Survivor of Domestic Violence
16 Films About Violence Against Women
16 Ways Men Can Help Stop Online Violence Against Women
16 Ways to Help Your Local Domestic Violence Shelter
and
16 Tech Innovations That Help the Movement to Prevent and Stop Violence Against Women.


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