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Haitian earthquake effect on girls and young women

January 17, 2010 2 comments

Women and girls have always carried the brunt of natural disasters. They become more vulnerable than they may already be. They become more impoverished, due to the fact that they were probably in a worse-off financial situation beforehand. Since they’re generally the primary caretakers, they have other people to take care of, so they don’t put their own needs first. Also, the countries are usually rebuilt on the shoulders of women. You get the picture. Obviously nature disasters effect men in negative ways, but women just carry the brunt of negative effects.

When I heard about the earthquake, I was immediately thinking about how women and girls were going to be effected, and now there is actually an acknowledgment that young women and girls are in more danger now than ever before in Haiti.

As of right now, relief efforts are being put into Haiti, and many have said that things like security is just not something that is important at this moment. However, Gerardo Ducos, a Haitian researcher for Amnesty International states,

“My worry is we put a lot of effort into bringing relief, but we have to have some protective measures to benefit women and girls to avoid their being victimized and sexually assaulted. It was already difficult in ordinary times.”

As Ducos said, it was already difficult during ordinary times. There are various reported numbers, but so many girls and young women do not report their rapes or other sexual assaults. During this time of crisis, this issue is just going to get worse. Yifat Susskind, policy and communications director for MADRE, says that women need more support during this time, but this is what happenings:

“They need support commensurate to the burden they are carrying. Instead, we see women and girls are targeted in all sorts of way, especially gender violence.”

She also mentioned that there are simply more losses for girls and young women, by stating,

“Her grandmother, the one person (a girl) could go to for protection or solace – she doesn’t know if she is dead or alive. Her school, the one safe place she could go every day is destroyed. … “

Ultimately, this earthquake has been such a huge hit for everyone, and it’s wonderful that the world is really stepping up and pouring out love to Haiti. We just can’t forget that women and girls are the ones that are going to be effected by this the most in the short and long run.

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A friend helps organize victim’s gang rape?

November 26, 2009 Leave a comment

Police are looking into a gang rape right now, which occurred last Monday in Monroeville, Alabama. There are two girls, and three boys/men involved. One girl being the one who was raped, while the other girl, who was a friend, possibly being the organizer of this gang rape. The three boys/men are 16, 17 and 20. They are being held on charges of felony rape.

When the investigation began, the girl who possibly organized this crime, told police that she and her classmate were planning on having consensual sex with all three of these boys/men. However, now she is being considered to be a part of this organized crime.

The actually victim of the rape did tell the police that it was supposed to be consensual at the beginning, and she felt that it was. However, soon after things started, she repeatedly said no, and yet no one stopped. All three took turns raping her. The other girl, who said that the boys/men tried to rape her, but “nothing happen”.

The victim had severe injuries and had to spend about 3 days in the ICU. Horrible, just horrible and disgusting.

Now what I’m hoping for this case is that it all of a sudden doesn’t become a “let’s blame the girl!” kind of thing. If she had anything to do with the planned rape, then yes, she should be punished. However, I just hope that three boys/men involved won’t be ignored. They are the ones that still chose to do this to a girl. It’s not like they didn’t know what they were doing.

What a discouraging story…especially after the horrific gang rape in Richmond, CA.

16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign

November 25, 2009 Leave a comment

Today marks the first day of the Commit ▪ Act ▪ Demand: We CAN End Violence Against Women! activist movement. So, why the 16 days?

November 25, 2009 marks the launch of the 19th international 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign – an annual campaign that runs from International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women through International Human Rights Day. (emphasis mine)

Over the next 16 days, I’m going to try and highlight the violence that women face around the world. If you’re interested in this endeavor, please visit the website and find out what some actions are that you can take to contribute to this movement and to the end of violence against women.

Men Against Violence Against Women, Part 2

November 18, 2009 Leave a comment

So, going on from my previous post about the “Men Against Violence Against Women” panel discussion, I just wanted to mention some other things that stuck out for me.

1. What is a woman’s role?
So, although it is clear that men must take responsibility for this issue, there is still an important role that women play, and have been playing for many, many years. Resistance. Women have been resisting violence against them for a long time and women must continue to play this part. Our resistance is extremely important. But now, since we’ve been resisting for years, it is time for men to respond to this resistance!

2. Safe spaces for men
New safe spaces need to be created for men to discuss these things. These safe spaces need to be places that men can come and grow and learn how to have an emotional life, outside of just having anger. This will bring together a collective of men who believe the same things and will be able to fight against violence against women.

3. Live the way you believe
Finally, what I want to end with is something that one panelist said. “Live the way you believe”. This is the first step in action. This means that everyone can act. It doesn’t matter who you are. If you believe certain things, live it out. Do not be silent. Your silence will condone this violence (or whatever other issue it may be). You CAN help this situation, no matter how helpless you may feel. It doesn’t have to be some huge act. Small acts everyday will build into a great movement, and actually be a part of a movement that is already happening. I hope that you feel a little inspired to at least try something!

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Men Against Violence Against Women Panel

November 17, 2009 2 comments

Last night, I had the great experience of attending an all men’s panel discussion, provided by my university’s Anti-Violence Network. The panel was entitled “Men Against Violence Against Women”. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first showed up, but it turned out to be a great discussion and some awesome points were brought up, that I want to highlight here.

1. Men need to acknowledge hegemonic masculinity
One speaker went over the basic hegemonic masculinity in our North American culture. This means strong, invulnerable, emotionless, silent, and angry (with anger really being the only emotion allowed). Homophobia is also a part of this. Men aren’t allowed to be feminine in any way, because the traditional man is supposed to be everything opposite of femininity. All of these things open up the pathway to violence, because women and homosexuals are “othered” or dehumanized; therefore, men feel that they CAN be violent.

2. There needs to be a new conception of masculinity
There needs to be a positive conception of being a man, which will make for better partnerships with everyone (women, other men, and children). Men need to reconceptualize strength. Strength can be something that is good, and not used for harm. Also, there needs to be insight within this new masculinity. Openness, self-reflection and self-awareness are necessary for this new masculinity.

3. Men must take responsibility
Many times, men are excused from their violence, or have some form of excuse for their violence. One of these excuses is that it’s a man or boys “nature” to be violent. But we were reminded again tonight that nothing is biological about violence! But another important point was that men who are not violent against women must also take responsibility. These non-violent men must not be silent. They must tell other men and boys that violence against women is not acceptable. Without these men leading other men and boys, this issue is NOT going to go away.

4. Action must be taken
One panelist discussed how there is too much damn research. We all KNOW that there is a problem, and we can continue paying for research to be done, but it’s not doing anything about the problem! We need to move on from identifying the problem. It is now time to seriously act. We must be examples to the younger generation. We must tell others that this issue is not acceptable. However you can act against this issue, you have to do it!

There were some other really awesome things discussed, which I’m going to save for a later post, since I don’t want this post to go on forever. I will just say that it was simply refreshing to hear men discuss this issue and not pat themselves on the back for having this panel in the first place. You know, that self-congratulatory thing? Not cool! So, it was awesome not seeing that. More discussions like this need to happen, because ultimately, this is an issue that only men can get rid of.

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Brutal details of the Richmond, CA gang rape

November 11, 2009 4 comments

The suspect for this gang rape that was let go, Salvador Rodriguez, has now come out and spoken about what happened that night.

“They were kicking her in her head and they were beating her up, robbing her and ripping her clothes off; it’s something you can’t get out your mind,” Rodriguez said.

“I saw people, like, dehumanizing her; I saw some pretty crazy stuff,” Rodriguez said.

But then the article states that he actually got another person to watch the gang rape with him. Woooow. And this other person states,

“She was pretty quiet; I thought she was like dead for a minute but then I saw her moving around, I was like, ‘Oh,'” the 16-year-old witness said.

“Oh”? Really? I’m not going to try and put my anger and disgust about this horrendous act on those that were witnesses, but there should have been something done sooner about this. Rodriguez goes onto explain why he didn’t call the police about this.

“People say, ‘Why didn’t I call the cops,’ but at the same time, I live in Richmond, a neighborhood like this, snitching is something you don’t do, you know, I mean I have to walk down the streets now in fear of my life,” Rodriquez said.

So, ultimately, people are always looking out for themselves, even if a heinous crime is being committed. So much for believing in humanity…

(Sorry for my cynical nature today, it’s just one of those days!)

Rihanna speaks about Chris Brown beating her

November 6, 2009 Leave a comment

As so many of you probably know already, Rihanna sat down with Diane Sawyer and did an interview, in which she talks about Chris Brown beating her. This all took place in February of this year, and I guess Rihanna felt that she was possibly ready to speak out about this, although you never know. (I won’t try to make any controversial remarks about her album coming out soon, but it’s something that you think about!)

Rihanna talks about the horrific details of what Chris Brown did to her, like how her mouth was full of blood and her face was completely swollen. She also talks about the more emotional issues that always come along with domestic violence. She told Sawyer that Brown was her “first big love” and that she was “so far in love, so unconditional, that I went back,” but reminded Sawyer that she realized that she didn’t want to teach young fans that it’s OK to go back to your abusers.

This is where domestic abuse gets tricky, and I think this unfortunately be one of the reasons why women get blamed so much in these cases. There are deep emotional ties to that one person, and that’s extremely hard to give up and move on. Not to mention, that it actually can become much more dangerous once a woman leaves the abuser. This probably wasn’t the case for Rihanna, but she explains the emotional issues well and we are able to get a better understanding of what’s going on. This is important, because domestic abuse is a huge issue that is highly ignored.

Ultimately, while watching Rihanna speak about this, the thing she said that stuck out most to me was, “that night wasn’t a part of my plan.” I think that’s really important to emphasis. Domestic abuse victims do not have this in their life plan. They are not expecting it. They don’t want this to happen. They possibly want a good life with the person that may have just abused them. They could of have dreams of having a bright future with that person. They didn’t think that domestic abuse would ever become an issue in their lives. And rightfully so, because men should never feel the right to beat a woman.

So thank you, Rihanna, for speaking out about this and against it.