How To Disrupt 16 Practices of Gender-based Violence In College Life

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Every year, we are pleased to welcome a guest “16 For 16” article from our partner, Breakthrough – a global human rights organisation working to make violence and discrimination against women and girls unacceptable. Their cutting-edge multimedia campaigns, community mobilisation, agenda setting, and leadership training equip men and women worldwide to challenge the status quo and take bold action for the dignity, equality, and justice of all.

This year, Breakthrough shares a list of 16 actions that college students can take to disrupt violence against women in college life.

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Many rigid gender norms–cultural rules about how people should behave because of their perceived gender–can cause harm because they perpetuate a culture where gender-based violence is seen as a normal or even inevitable part of the college experience. Some of these practices have become so normalized in college and university life that they can seem impossible to change. But YOU can become an agent of change by unpacking the norms that drive these practices, and thinking outside the box to disrupt and challenge the ways these cultural norms cause harm to students in your community.

Here are 16 examples of gender norms in practice that we’ll bet you’ve come across before. Are some of these prevalent at your university? If you’re interested in disrupting and transforming any of these practices on your campus, Breakthrough’s Action Hotline is a great resource to get you started! We offer free mentorship for students looking to change culture on campuses across the U.S., and help you brainstorm, plan, and implement your idea for action.

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Practice #1 – “Ladies Night!”

You’ve probably seen this in the form of “women drink for free” or “$2 cover for ladies.” – the promise of drunk women in a way that promotes rape culture. Possible disruptive actions? Satirise the ways in which drunk women are used as objects in advertising to call this practice out for what it is. Create media campaigns that show how pervasive–and harmful–this practice is, and model new ways of getting customers and making money that don’t involve rape culture.

Practice #2 – Victim blaming (Among Peers)

Bullying or shaming survivors of violence, often by suggesting that they were responsible for their own victimisation as opposed to placing blame on the person who chose to commit an act of violence. This can increase the incidence and harmful effect of violence. Potential disruptive actions? A “No Blame” campaign – Collect and share examples of victim blaming on campus and offer solutions and healthier frameworks. Respond to victim blaming by flooding social media or apps like YikYak with positive messages calling out this practice. You and your friends dress up as referees – striped shirts and whistles – and throw a flag when you hear or see victim blaming behavior.

Practice #3 – Victim blaming (Institutional/Systemic)

Rules and policies enforced (or not enforced) by administrators and staff place blame on the actions of the victims, and not on the person that chose to commit violence against them. It is asking survivors what they were wearing, how much they drank, or what they could have done differently to avoid violence. Potential disruptive actions? Run a spotlight campaign focused on highlighting what should be included in school policy, and explaining the harms caused by institutional victim blaming. Speak out to local and national media when cases of institutional victim-blaming occur to bring external pressure to bear on the situation.

Practice #4 – “Rating” Women Based on Their Looks and Sexual Availability to Men

This practice can be a formal system among a specific group on campus, or an informal “in-joke” most often amongst men. It sounds like “she’s a ten” or language like “grenade” used to refer to women. Whatever the language, this practice says that a woman’s value is based on her looks and sexuality, creating a culture where men are pressured to have sex with certain women, and women are expected and pressured into sex or are assaulted and raped. Potential disruptive actions? Whistleblowing – reveal the depths of this practice if it has become a tradition. Make it clear that it happens on your campus and will not happen anymore – take inspiration from the Harvard Women’s Soccer team.

Practice #5 – Sexual Scoring

Like so many harmful norms, this one has a long history in language like “notches on your belt or bedpost”. This practice arises out of the idea that masculinity = having lots of heterosexual sex, and coercive and non-consensual behavior often become accepted parts of the game. Potential disruptive actions? Get competitive instead about calling out actions that pressure people to have sex. Keep score on that and share strategies and tips to step up your game.

Practice #6 – Taking/recording Photos/Video Without Consent

Whether through hacking, hidden cameras, or in other ways, taking intimate or degrading photos, videos, Snapchats and more without the person’s knowledge, permission, or consent causes harm whether it is shared or not. Potential disruptive actions? Use stories of people affected by this practice to create understanding of the harms and impacts it causes. Transform conversations around sexual consent to include discussions of intimate photos and videos.

Practice #7 – Non-Consensual Photo/Video Sharing

Often existing alongside the previous practice, the act of sharing or threatening to share intimate photos and videos without their consent (even if they were taken with consent!) as an unacceptable violation that often causes harm, shame, and stigma. Potential disruptive actions? Use storytelling to encourage a sex-positive, non-shaming approach to conversations around intimate photos. Run reactive campaigns when incidents occur that show solidarity with victims.

Practice #8 – “Rush boobs” (And Other Trophies)

An often formalised component of sexual scoring is the collection of “trophies”, sexually objectifying women and creating a culture that pressures men to “get” sex however they can. Trophies and a high score are prioritised over consent and respect. According to Total Frat Move: “Since the dawn of the internet, fraternity members have been convincing girls to write “Rush (Insert Fraternity Here)” across their chests for promotional purposes.” Potential Disruptive actions? Call out and replace this practice by writing “RUSH __” on random objects to showcase the absurdity of the tradition. Flood social media with this on the relevant hashtags.

Practice #9 – The “Friendzone”

Ah – the “friendzone”. The idea that “nice guys” are entitled to the romantic or sexual interest of a woman, and that men are “victims” of women only wanting to be friends with them (the horror!). This is one of the more insidious and seemingly benign components of rape culture and really needs to go. Potential disruptive actions? Create a multimedia campaign using examples of the “friendzone” from pop culture– TV shows, lyrics, films, or blogs. Talk about the inherent sexism and use this idea to elevate discussions around consent and autonomy. Designate a space on campus to be an actual “friend zone” – where people of all genders can just be friends without the pressure of sex, or a space where friends can be honest with each other about their expectations of their relationship. Or maybe a space to keep anyone who complains about being in…….the friendzone.

Practice #10 – Shaming Women’s Sexuality (“Slut-shaming”)

This age-old practice of using loaded language to shame women for their sexuality or their appearance is a prime example of the double-standard for women when it comes to sex (see “sexual scoring” above). Potential disruptive actions? Take the shame out of sexuality through sex-positive storytelling. Offer new ways to talk about the moments that are often linked to slut-shaming (AKA “the walk of shame” becomes the “stride of pride”).

Practice #11 – Rape Culture Banners (“Drop Your Daughters Off Here, Dads”)

Every fall, massive banners displayed across Fraternity houses meant to intimidate new students – particularly first year women – are unfurled (trust us, you can google it). These banners often contain threatening and offensive messages that trivialize sexual assault. Potential disruptive actions? Take inspiration from Will & Bill who started Banner Up! At Indiana University in response to rape culture banners at their school. Get dads involved since these banners often implicate them as well.

Practice #12 – Control of Access to Alcohol

On many campuses, men (and most often, fraternities) have control over other students’ access to alcohol. Students, and especially underage students, have limited access to alcohol, which creates greater opportunity to isolate, coerce, force alcohol on, and sexually assault others. Potential disruptive actions? Flip the script – put women or other groups in charge of access to alcohol for a change. Work with chapters at other schools to challenge problematic policies and rules at a national level.

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Practice #13 – Homophobia and Transphobia

Dehumanising LGBT folk through discrimination, violence, and the use of homophobic and transphobic language is a problem in and of itself. It also is used to regulate and police other people’s behaviors and reinforces inequity and violence. Potential disruptive actions? Build empathy culture: create systems of peer accountability for homophobic and transphobic behavior. If you are not LGBT yourself, center the experiences of LGBT students in your work on your own campus and build strong alliances.

Practice #14 – “The Perfect Victim

The practice of discrediting victims based on their sexual history, appearance, gender, race, or any other facet of their identity is common and is a part of victim blaming. Promoting the idea of a “perfect victim” makes it easier to disbelieve, blame, and silence all survivors of sexual violence and/or relationship abuse. Potential disruptive actions? Offer new, real narratives from survivors in your own community. Run campaigns that seek to broaden campus-wide understanding of who can be a victim.

Practice #15 – Colluding with Those Who Commit Violence

Protecting students and others who perpetrate violence because of their perceived value to the school is all too common on campus and in communities everywhere, and it normalises and increases the amount of violence committed. Potential disruptive actions? Create accountability culture: work with students to understand that it is not in the best interest of the community to protect those who commit violence, use student and local media to draw attention to cover ups, work with alumni, parents, and others to hold the administration accountable for transparency.

Practice #16 – “Standards”

Peer-led committees or boards enforce a code of conduct within student organisations, in a system that is meant to protect the reputation of an organisation. Potential disruptive actions? Change your standards: it’s a peer enforced system. Challenge shaming within your community. Check yourselves.

If you’re inspired to take action to disrupt any of these practices–or want to take a closer look at the norms that drive a culture of gender-based violence in your community–take advantage of Breakthrough’s Action Hotline today!

16 Activists and Organisations Working Online To Stop Violence Against Women

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With the 21st century in full swing, the internet has become an integral part of everyday life for much for the world. From shopping to social lives, we have become increasingly reliant on the internet to get things done, as well as to communicate with other people. The younger generations, starting with Millenials, have never grown up in a world without the internet. With the increasing affordability and ubiquity of portable technology such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets, even the most remote of locations are getting online and getting connected. Indeed, the UN has even declared internet access a universal human right.

The internet, however, is a double-edged sword. While it has helped everything from business to education take massive leaps forward faster than ever, online communication platforms and communities such as blogs, social media networks, chatrooms, and forums have also helped amplify some of the worst aspects of humanity including misogyny and Violence Against Women (VAW). According to UN Women, “cyber VAWG already exists in many forms, including online harassment, public shaming, the desire to inflict physical harm, sexual assaults, murders and induced suicides”.

The anti-VAW movement has taken on the cyber VAW fight in two major ways. They use social media and other online platforms to educate, raise awareness, raise funds, and to turbo charge the fight against VAW and sexism. Crucially, anti-VAW activists are also finding ways to effectively tackle the tidal wave of cyber-VAW using tactics ranging from rallying individuals and organisations to unite against VAW to pushing social media companies to become more accountable for taking action to stamp out VAW in their communities.

The 16 activists and organisations listed below have been at the frontline of digital anti-VAW activism in the last decade as social media started its unstoppable rise to prominence. From providing an anonymous blog platform for survivors to tell their stories to creating viral educational videos to working with Facebook and Twitter to stop VAW on their watch, each of them have stepped up to take on this new frontier in the fight to end VAW. We hope their work inspires you to do so too.

Written and compiled by Samantha Carroll and Regina Yau. Introduction by Regina Yau.

Call To Action: Help us reach the $25,000 fundraising milestone for our Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign this holiday season by giving generously to our “16 For 16” fundraiser (which also includes #GivingTuesday)! Find out more and donate to get awesome book and music goodies at http://is.gd/16DaysGT2015 

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Recommendation #1: Aimee Smith

Aimee Smith_croppedAimee Smith is the pseudonym of a blogger who shares her story of rape survival.  On her blog One Woman, Smith inspires women to come forward (anonymously if preferred) and share their stories of survival too.  “If we can help even one woman deal with her pain, we will be succeeding”, says Smith.  When she’s not helping others, Smith is teaching, parenting, playing the piano and being nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award.

Recommendation #2: Anita Sarkeesian

Anita Sarkeesian_croppedAnita Sarkeesian is the pop-culture media critic who made headlines when she launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to support her production of a video Web series called Tropes vs Women in Video Games, which explores female stereotypes in the gaming industry. Her feminist critique of the gaming industry has garnered an ongoing vitriolic online backlash, including threats of death, sexual assault and rape, most recently escalating to hounding her out of her home and forcing her to cancel an event at Utah State University due to the threat of a mass gun massacre.

Recommendation #3: Breakthrough

breakthroughBreakthrough is a global human rights organisation based in both the U.S. and India. They work to make violence and discrimination against women and girls unacceptable via cutting-edge multimedia campaigns, community mobilisation, agenda setting, and leadership training equip men and women worldwide to challenge the status quo and take action to address and end violence against women and girls. Online campaigning is one of their key strengths – one of their best known online campaigns is their “Bell Bajao” campaign featuring YouTube videos that encourage the viewer to take action to stop domestic violence by ringing the bell. “Bell Bajao” has been adapted by domestic violence organisations in other countries including China and Vietnam.

Recommendation #4: Caroline Criado-Perez

Caroline Criado PerezCaroline Criado-Perez is a freelance journalist and feminist campaigner who successfully campaigned to persuade the Bank of England to include a prominent woman (Jane Austen) among an otherwise all-male group of British luminaries on the back of British currency. The success of the campaign made her and other women the target of numerous threats of rape and murder on Twitter from the day of the Bank of England’s announcement in July 2013. She fought back against the abuse publicly, which resulted in Twitter’s general manager in Britain, Tony Wang, announcing a one-click option on all posts enabling users to easily report abusive tweets, where previously there was no recourse for victims of online harassment on Twitter.

Recommendation #5: Jessica Valenti

Jessica_Valenti_in_March_2014_croppedJessica Valenti is the founder of Feministing.com and the author of four books on feminism, politics and culture, and. Her newest book, Sex Object, will be out in 2016. She is also a daily columnist and staff writer for Guardian US where she writes about violence against women and gender inequality. The Guardian has named her as one of their “top 100 women” for her work to bring the feminist movement online. Her work has also appeared in Ms.,The Nation, The Washington Post, TPMCafe, and Alternet.

Recommendation #6: June Eric-Udorie

June Eric-UdorieJune Eric-Udorie is a 16 year old campaigner against female genital mutilation, writer, and member of  Plan UK’s Youth Advisory Panel where she sits on the Board of Trustees. She advocates for women’s rights and is passionate about ending violence against women and girls. Udorie protests (both online and offline) against victim blaming, supports the empowerment of girls, blogs for New Statesman, and has written for Girls’ Globe and the Telegraph. In April 2015, Udorie petitioned against Sussex Police after they produced objectionable anti-rape posters. The posters were taken down within 72 hours. She was nominated for the Red Women of the Year Award 2015.

Recommendation #7: Meltem Avcil

Meltem Avcil_croppedIn 2007, at the age of 13, Meltem Avcil was placed in the Yarl’s Wood immigration centre, Bedfordshire, UK, with her mother. There she witnessed women (like her mother) who had fled their home countries due to VAW, and were placed in a prison-like space. In a Cosmo article, Avcil is quoted as saying that, “These women have experienced torture, rape, violence, sexual abuse. They have been tortured mentally and physically. So when they come to this country to seek refuge, they’re being tortured again by being put in prison.” As a result of her experience, Avcil has started a change.org petition and called on the UK’s on Home Secretary Theresa May, to end the incarceration of abused women seeking asylum.

Recommendation #8: Nuala Cabral

Nuala Cabral_croppedNuala Cabral created a short film in 2009 called Walking Home, to address street harassment. The film was uploaded to YouTube and was watched by tens of thousands. After Walking Home went viral, the film won the Speaking Out Award at the non-profit Media That Matters Film Festival.  Cabral is a cofounder of FAAN (Fostering Activism and Alternatives Now), a media literacy and activism project that focuses on transforming the way women of colour are depicted in the media. To achieve this and as part of their community engagement, FAAN offers and facilitates a range of workshops, presentations and professional development around media literacy, social media activism and creating media for social change.

Recommendation #9: Raquel Evita Saraswati

Raquel Evita Saraswati is the first woman under the age of 30 to receive a Durga Award for dedication to ending gender-based violence, FGM and forced and child marriages. Saraswati has spoken out publically against honour killings all over the world and has written for prestigious media outlets while campaigning vigorously online via her blog and Twitter where she has over 20,000 followers. Her new initiative is called Adalah: Ending Gender-Based Violence and will focus on “a holistic approach to ending gender-based violence”.

Recommendation #10: Soraya Chemaly

Soraya Chemaly is a feminist media critic and activist whose work focuses on women’s rights, freedom of speech, and the role of gender and violence in politics, religion and pop culture. She is a contributor to Salon, CNN, The Huffington Post, The Guardian, The Nation, Ms. Magazine, and Time and her work is also regularly published in gender-focused media. In May 2013, she teamed up with Women, Action, and The Media (WAM!) to organise a successful global social media campaign demanding that Facebook recognise misogynistic content as hate speech. She works regularly with social media companies to address gender-based inequalities.

Recommendation #11: Stop Street Harassment

SSH-New-LogoStop Street Harassment (SSH) is a non-profit organisation dedicated to documenting and ending gender-based street harassment worldwide. It started as a blog in 2008 by founder Holly Kearl and quickly went from strength to strength over the last 7 years as Kearl built a fast-growing community to push back against street harassment. Today, SSH runs the highly successful International Anti-Street Harassment Week every Spring, using social media, their website resources, and their mailing list to organise groups and tens of thousands of people around the world to take action against street harassment in their community. SSH also continues to collect and document stories of street harassment submitted by women and girls worldwide.

Recommendation #12: Take Back The Tech

Take Back The TechTake Back The Tech! was initiated in 2006 by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) Women’s Rights Programme and was created as a call to everyone, especially women and girls, to take control of technology to end violence against women. It’s a global, collaborative campaign project that highlights the problem of tech-related violence against women such as cyberstalking, together with research and solutions from different parts of the world. The campaign offers safety roadmaps and information and provides an avenue for taking action. The collective runs several campaigns every year, and their biggest annual campaign takes place during 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (25 Nov – 10 Dec).

Recommendation #13: The Pixel Project

Pixel Project ThumbnailThe Pixel Project is a global virtual non-profit working to raise awareness, funds, and volunteer power for the cause to end violence against women (VAW) worldwide. They focus on online campaigns which combine social media, new technologies, pop culture, and the arts. Their campaigns span a range of online tools and social media including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Hangouts, YouTube, and blogs, tailoring these online platforms to reach, involve, and mobilise a wide range of social demographics for the cause including VAW survivors, fathers, music artistes, authors, geeks and book lovers, pet lovers, and foodies. Their flagship campaign is the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign – a crowdfunding campaign which aims to get donors worldwide to reveal a million-pixel collage of 4 celebrity male role models by donating a dollar a pixel.

Recommendention #14: UN Women

UNwomen-Logo-Blue-TransparentBackground-enThe United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), is a United Nations entity working for the empowerment of women. One of their key focal issues is violence against women (VAW) and in the last decade, they have successfully leveraged the power of the internet and social media to rally the global community to take action to stop VAW. In 2009, they launched the SayNO – UNiTE to end Violence Against Women campaign which aimed to raise at least 1 million actions to stop VAW (and succeeded). In 2014, they launched the #HeForShe campaign with Harry Potter star Emma Watson as the ambassador to get men and boys to step up to end sexism, misogyny, and VAW.

Recommendation #15: Women, Action, and The Media (WAM!)

WAM! states that they are a “nonprofit dedicated to building a robust, effective, inclusive movement for gender justice in media”. Founded by feminist activist Jaclyn Friedman, WAM! runs a variety of campaigns that aims to change the way online and traditional media treat and portray women and girls. WAM! has broken new ground with getting social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter to become more pro-active in addressing online harassment and misogyny that take place on their sites. In November 2014, WAM! collaborated with Twitter to address the online harassment of female Twitter users. In May 2013, WAM! took on Facebook with an open letter signed by more than 100 anti-Violence Against Women organisations demanding that Facebook recognize misogynistic content as hate speech. They won.

Recommendation #16: Yas Necati

Yas NecatiYas Necati is an 18 year old activist who describes herself as a “full-time patriarchy-smasher”. In 2013, she launched a campaign called #BetterSexEducation due to the UK’s Sex and Relationships Education out-dated curriculum. Nescati helps run the Campaign4Consent, which aims to make consent and information about sexual assault part of the UK’s Sex and Relationships Education curriculum. She is managing editor of Powered By Girl and a member of No More Page 3. And if all of the above isn’t enough, Necati is also writing a book on feminism for teens.

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16 Ways College Students Can Transform a Culture of Violence Against Women on Campus

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Every year, we are pleased to welcome a guest “16 For 16” article from our partner, Breakthrough – a global human rights organisation working to make violence and discrimination against women and girls unacceptable. Their cutting-edge multimedia campaigns, community mobilisation, agenda setting, and leadership training equip men and women worldwide to challenge the status quo and take bold action for the dignity, equality, and justice of all.

This year, Breakthrough shares a list of 16 actions that college students can take to prevent violence against women on college campuses.

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Transforming the culture of violence against women on campus starts with challenging the cultural norms that lead to sexual violence. By challenging these beliefs, we can get to the root of the problem and make sure that responses to violence are supportive.

Below are 16 ways to prevent and challenge violence against women on campus geared towards creating a campus culture in which all students feel safe and respected.

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Action Recommendation #1: Understand that violence on campus exists on a spectrum. It’s not just physical violence such as unwanted sexual contact, attempted sexual assault, and rape. Catcalling, stalking, spreading rumors, cyber-bullying–these things are violence too. Violence happens in intimate relationships and between people who are just friends. Recognising these various forms of violence will help you see when they happen, set clear boundaries for yourself, and help people who are in trouble.

Action Recommendation #2: Recognise that there’s no one “type” of person who commits violence. It’s not just men committing violence against women. The majority — but not all — of reported cases on campus involve male-perpetrated violence against women. All cases need to be taken seriously. The goal is creating a culture of safety for every student, no matter who they are.

Action Recommendation #3: College is all about learning. Statistics show that 1 in 5 women experience sexual assault while they’re at college. The first few weeks of the semester are when a majority of rapes are committed, often against first-year students. This period of time is a big issue facing students, parents, and faculty alike. It’s important to understand that this is everyone’s problem, and we need everyone to be part of the solution.

Action Recommendation #4: Say “I believe you.” Don’t participate in victim-blaming or casting doubt on survivors’ experiences. Instead, challenge victim-blaming. Be aware of the resources available to survivors, like campus wellness centers and rape crisis centers on your campus and in the surrounding community so that you can point friends and peers in the right direction. By supporting someone in this way, you can support survivors and make it clear that people who commit sexual violence need to be held accountable for their choices.

Action Recommendation #5: Consider your language. Think about the words and expressions used on your campus–for women? For men? For sex? Find ways to use language that encourages a culture in which people aren’t harassed or intimidated–and discourage language that demeans or excludes people.

Action Recommendation #6: Demand accountability at every level. Call it out when someone makes comments that are sexist, homophobic, racist, or transphobic. Or when you witness catcalling or bullying. We all can be the person who makes it clear when someone has crossed the line. Urge faculty and administrators to be proactive about prevention at your school. Don’t underestimate the power of student activism.

Action Recommendation #7: Take action across all of your communities. If you’re involved in extracurricular activities, a faith practice, internships, on a team, in a Greek chapter and anything else—support gender equity as a core value of your group. Make those spaces as inclusive and comfortable for everyone as possible.

Action Recommendation #8: Consent. Consent. Consent can be hard to navigate, especially with all the pressures that come with being on campus. So ask for it. Respect the answer you’re given. Consent can be sexy–but even when it isn’t, it’s absolutely necessary.

Action Recommendation #9: Fill in the gaps of your sex education. Unfortunately, many people don’t get adequate, accurate, informative, and non-judgmental sexual education–or any education at all around healthy relationships and sex whether in school or at home. There are resources on your campus that will help fill in the gaps we all have. Use what the resources you find to set examples of healthy relationships, ask questions, find answers, and have those difficult or challenging conversations about what consensual and healthy sex and relationships should look like!

Action Recommendation #10: Support and create representative media! Be aware of and critical of the media you consume. There is a lot of media that glorifies and exaggerates what college is all about. Much of our media does a poor job depicting women with any complexity beyond being an object of sexual desire to be won, and rarely (if ever) addresses issues of race, sexual orientation in a positive way. But there is a lot of media that does it right and deserves your support. The media you consume now does not have to be the media you create tomorrow. And whether you’re making posters about consent, or you’re creating a student film, do better than Hollywood. Harness your own creativity to create media that doesn’t support or make light of violence against women!

Action Recommendation #11: Foster healthy relationships. Campus life post-high school can feel liberating–but it’s also a little daunting. Without their familiar support system, some people can feel isolated or lonely, especially after facing violence. Creating a safe and respectful campus culture will help you to find and build the communities that will make your college experience even better. You’ll have the chance to surround yourself with people who share your values of respect and dignity, and experience new things while also feeling safe.

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Action Recommendation #12: Have fun safely. If you’re in an environment and you don’t feel comfortable, you don’t have to stay. Your wellbeing comes first–fun isn’t fun when you’re not having fun. Keep an eye out for anyone tampering with drinks. Intervene if you think someone is taking advantage of a person who might be impaired by alcohol or drugs. And be aware of other ways that your or anyone’s boundaries might be disrespected or ignored.

Action Recommendation #13: Remember: “fun” is not an excuse. And creating a hostile environment is definitely not fun. You probably don’t know what your new peers have seen, heard or been through. Be sensitive to other people’s experiences with sexual violence by being open and willing to learning, and respect others’ privacy. Every student’s safety and well-being takes priority over “just a joke.”

Action Recommendation #14: Extend your campus culture online. What you do online doesn’t occur in a vacuum. Social media can create hostile campus culture and facilitate bullying. If you encounter any cyberbullying, slut-shaming, rumor-spreading–or worse, threats or evidence of violence online–treat it as you would if you saw it happening in real life. Bystander intervention applies online too. So does consent! Ask before you share any information or media of other people.

Action Recommendation #15: Make your physical space a safer space. The campus space should be a safer space for everyone. Consider the physical landscape of your campus and its buildings—student housing, athletic facilities, and survivor/victim resources. These spaces should be accessible. Private spaces should be secure. These spaces shouldn’t contribute to an intimidating or unsupportive campus environment. Advocate for well-lit bathrooms, safe physical spaces, and anonymous reporting.

Action Recommendation #16: Make this your issue (it already is). Educate yourself and your friends about violence against women. Go to trainings and seminars. Attend or organise fundraising, awareness, or outreach events. Just be that person who embodies positive campus culture!

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16 Ways You Can Make Online Spaces Safer For Women

For the 11th day of the 16 Days of Activism, we are pleased to share a special blog list of 16 actions that anyone can take to become upstanders taking make online spaces safer for women from our partner,Breakthrough and their Bell Bajao campaign (now Breakthrough India).

Note: For additional tips and ideas on how to take action to stop online violence, you can read our 2013 article on 16 ways men can help stop cyberVAW.

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SearchQuick – what’s the first thing you think of when you see the phrase ‘safe public spaces’? For most of us, we see well-lit streets, marketplaces bustling with people of all genders, public transport where women don’t fear to tread. But how many of us stop to consider the less ‘physical’ world?

The online space is as legitimate a public space as any, and like the streets, marketplaces and buses around us, as prone to incidences of harassment and violence against women. A woman on the internet is may be subject to death threats, rape threats, or worse, and none of us are strangers to stories of harassment ‘forcing’ women being off social networks or gaming communities.

Fortunately, the solution rests with us – the citizens of the internet. We can act to create online spaces that are safer for everyone – here are 16 ways how:

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Action To Stop Online VAW #1: Believe survivors when they say they have experienced violence. It takes a great amount of courage to come forward and share a traumatic experience publicly. It is difficult enough for survivors to share their stories, the last thing they need is to have their experiences doubted.

Action To Stop Online VAW #2: Know the law and don’t be afraid to use it. Several countries regard cyber crimes as criminal offenses. If you spot someone engaging in cyber threats , do not hesitate to bring them to justice, legally.

Help ButtonAction To Stop Online VAW #3. Intervene when you spot someone being vilified or bullied online. All you have to do is interrupt the conversation and distract the bully.

Action To Stop Online VAW #4: Watch your language when interacting online. A lot of the words and phrases we use frequently are riddled with sexism and idealise masculinity. For instance “don’t be such a girl” makes femininity out to be a negative thing, while “be a man” glorifies masculinity. The phrases we use have the power to tip or equalise the gender balance.

Action To Stop Online VAW #5. Use “block” and “report” liberally – one of the easiest things to do is report abusive or violent online behaviour. Social networks and major website usually have a very low-tolerance policy when it comes to offensive behaviour online and respond rapidly to reports.

Action To Stop Online VAW #6. Concentrate on the argument when in an online debate. The internet is a hotbed for discussion, debate and differences in opinion. When arguments get messy, don’t debase yourself by name-calling the other person. Focus on the point and hand and use reason and logic to make your point, rather than belittling personal attributes.

Action To Stop Online VAW #7. Don’t blame the victim. Whether online, or offline – NOBODY deserves abuse or violence. Don’t fall into the “they asked for it” or “they had it coming” arguments – these just reinforce patriarchal mindsets.

Action To Stop Online VAW #8: Don’t feed the trolls. Sometimes the best action is no action. Trolls make it their mission to disrupt or upset others around them. You can identify them by their resistance to listening to or accepting a point of view that differs from their own. Once you’ve spotted a troll, refrain from interacting with them entirely.

Action To Stop Online VAW #9: Respect the discomfort of others. We may not always know why another person feels uncomfortable during a conversation, but something that is trivial to us may be of great significance, or a trigger for them. Respect their situation if they tell you they are feeling uncomfortable and move on to another topic.

Action To Stop Online VAW #10. Call out abusive or offensive behaviour. Take intervention a step further, and instead of just interrupting the aggressor, call them out on their behaviour. A phrase like ‘that’s a sexist thing to say’ or ‘this is discriminatory’ or even ‘there’s no need to be aggressive’ can be all it takes to bring bad behaviour to notice.

Action To Stop Online VAW #11: Check your privilege. If English is your first language and you’re from a middle class family, you’re already at an advantage online. We often aren’t even aware of our own privilege before falling into shouting matches with others on the internet.

Girl in LaptopAction To Stop Online VAW #12: Encourage more women to come online. The greater the number of women in public spaces, the safer those public spaces are. Work towards gender-equality online by helping create it.

Action To Stop Online VAW #13: Show sensitivity towards other cultures. In a space where people from different countries and cultures intermingle. Be open to listening to the voices of those who have gone through different experiences and learn from their stories. Not everyone goes through the same life experiences.

Action To Stop Online VAW #14:. Stop body-shaming. Calling people names because you perceive them as too fat, too thin, wearing inappropriate clothing or makeup that isn’t professionally applied is just one of the ways the anonymity the internet provides enables such malicious behaviour. Don’t engage in it, and don’t tolerate it from others

Action To Stop Online VAW #15. Don’t marginalise other communities. Not just gender, but making comments that marginalise or demean individuals based on class, sex, race, caste, ability, sexual preference, age or weight all contribute to creating unwelcoming public spaces.

Action To Stop Online VAW #16. Make it visible. Finally, don’t hesitate to bring abusive or offensive behaviour to the public eye. Take screenshots, and spread the word. Make violence against women and girls in every space unacceptable.

16 Commitments You Can Make to End Violence Against Women

For the 15th day of the 16 Days of Activism, we are pleased to share a special blog list of 16 commitments from men to become upstanders taking action to stop Violence Against Women from our partner, Breakthrough/Bell Bajao. These commitments were collected via their “Ring The Bell” campaign which kicked off on International Women’s Day 2013.

If you are a man who believes that violence against women and girls has no place in your community, your culture, or the world, please consider joining the “Ring The Bell” campaign and making your pledge to stop the violence.

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Bell-Bajao_ring the bell

At Breakthrough we’ve spent over ten years working on issues of violence against women. One of the most frequent questions we find ourselves answering is “I really want to help – what can I do to end violence against women?”

On the 8th of March this year, we launched Ring The Bell – a campaign where we asked you to make a tangible promise to ACT to end violence against women. For 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence, we’ve picked 16 of the simplest, and most tangible promises we received. Without further ado, Here are 16 easy ways you can make a difference.

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Commitment #1: Promote another campaign

Zina Tompkins I promise to #RingTheBell by using this campaign as inspiration in my church network to change gender inequality in my community and then globally.

 

Commitment #2: Start your own campaign

Iren Shin I promise to #RingTheBell by organizing my “Know Your Rights” campaign for Rutgers students and N.B. community members.

 

Commitment #3: Host an Event 

Al Black I promise to host a special Poetry/Music event to, “End Violence Against Women” with all male performers

 

Commitment #4: Challenge Your Surroundings

William Ligon-Bruno I promise to challenge friends and peers who disrespect women or girls and be a presence and a force in ending violence against them.

 

Commitment #5: Challenge Disrespect on the Internet 

Adam Souza I promise to challenging friends or internet commentators who disrespect women or girls.

 

Commitment #6: Demonstrate Respect

Richard Sjolin Jr I promise to treat EVERYONE with equal respect, no matter their gender, identity, or beliefs.

 

Commitment #7: Engage in Respectful Relationships with Women and Girls

Dipankar Gupta I hereby promise that I will not look at women inappropriate fashion and I will make sure that my friends also do the same. I promise that if I have feelings towards a woman,I will accept rejection in a mature fashion. I promise that I will show chivalry with no ulterior motive. I promise that I will help women (or any person for that matter) without any motive. I promise that I will not discriminate against women in any fashion. I promise that I will seek permission from a woman for anything. And I promise to protect every woman I love.

 

Commitment #8: Talk about it

Molly Williams I promise to ring the bell by having conversations with men in my life about violence prevention and elimination.

 

Commitment #9: Raise Daughters to Only Accept Respect

Kelly Christensen I promise to fight violence in my community and to raise my daughter to never ever accept anything less than respect from others.

 

Commitment #10: Raise Sons to Respect Women and Girls  

Bill Cole I promise to teach my son every day to know that women are in every way his equal.

 

Commitment #11: Raise awareness

Anabel Ronconi I promise to raise awareness about violence against women and in general,teach/show/lead nonviolence by example,help others to stand up for themselves

 

Commitment #12: Challenge Misogynistic Patterns of Thought  

Edward Zeauskas I promise to Ring the Bell by changing the patterns of thought, and normative roles portrayed by men and women.

 

Commitment #13: Demand Gender Sensitive Reporting 

Gias Uddin I promise to ring the bell by:encouraging media people to publish gender sensitive report

 

Commitment #14: Be a Role Model

Mitch Pryor I promise to challenge friends, colleagues, and coworkers who disrespect women or girls. I promise to be a good role model for my children.

 

Commitment #15: Respect My Partner and Model good Respectful Relationships

Lynn Harris I promise to ring the bell by treating my daughter and son equally and making sure they see that my husband and I treat each other with deep respect.

 

Commitment #16: Be A Bystander Who Intervenes 

Francisco Cividanes I’m in. I promise to stand up to the bullies not only with my words but through action as well.

Think you can do more? Sir Richard Branson, Sir Patrick Stewart, Michael Bolton and others have made their own commitments to end violence against women. What’s yours?

16 Safety Ideas and Tips for Women facing Domestic Violence over the Holiday Season

via McHenry County Turning Point http://www.mchenrycountyturningpoint.org

The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence coincides with the start of the annual year-end holiday season in many parts of the world. During this period, Domestic Violence tends to spike due to a number of factors including:

  • Increased financial pressures
  • Increased alcohol and drug consumption
  • Increased family pressures and conflict
  • Increased contact with the abuser who may be on vacation for the holiday season.

In the final article in our 2012 “16 For 16” blog series, The Pixel Project presents 16 safety ideas and tips for women who continue to face Domestic Violence in their family lives. Given that Domestic Violence does not just affect the immediate victim but also their friends and extended family during this time of the year, we have divided the 16 ideas and tips into 2 categories:

  • One for victims/survivors
  • One for friends and family members who wish to take action to keep the victim/survivor safe.

If you have more tips, please share them in the comments box below this article so we can help everyone stay as safe as possible during the holiday season.

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For Victims/Survivors:

Idea/Tip Number 1: Put the right numbers on speed-dial. If you have a mobile phone, make sure to put the following numbers of speed-dial/in your address book:

  • The national Domestic Violence helpline (if your country has it)
  • The local Domestic Violence shelter helpline wherever you will be spending Christmas
  • The local police helpline number
  • The number of a close friend, co-worker or family member who can be on standby to get you out of the situation or act as witness.

For those who fear that their phone may be taken away from them, memorise all important numbers so, if need be, you can call from a public pay phone.

Idea/Tip Number 2: Have a ‘Safe’ word/phrase. In violent or emergency situations, you may not be able to text or say much. Have an agreed ‘safe’ word or phrase with your close friend/co-worker or family member who agrees to have their phone on standby to receive any emergency calls/texts. Keep it short and simple.

Idea/Tip Number 3: Download a safety app. If you have a smart phone, consider downloading a safety app for women, many of which have been designed to automatically alert your support network if you are in danger. Some safety apps include P.F.O. and Circle of 6.

Idea/Tip Number 4: Keep your phone (and some money) on you at all times. Also remember to keep it fully charged at all times. You will never know when a situation will erupt, so it is crucial to have it on hand, especially if you know you might be alone with your abuser. Also have cash in hand in case you need to make a run for your life.

Idea/Tip Number 5: Arrange for an ally in advance. If you are going to spend the holiday season with extended family and you know who would believe and support you, call that person in advance to ask him or her for support and intervention should a situation turn violent. This option may not be available for all victims/survivors but it would be a feasible one for many, especially if visiting their own parents, siblings, cousins etc.

Idea/Tip Number 6: Always have an audience. Use holiday visits to extended family and friends as a chance to minimise being alone with your abuser. At best, being in company will keep the violence in check. At worst, if violence does happen, it will happen publicly and you may have others stepping in to intervene or at least a few witnesses.

Idea/Tip Number 7: Defuse it. According to one police lieutenant, walking away from a potentially explosive situation may help temporarily alleviate the abuse and avoid fatalities:“A lot of times just stepping away from a situation to let it deescalate for that night or that certain time period is the best thing someone can do.” Plan ahead with an ally (a friend or family member who will be with you for Christmas and who will support you) to run interference and get your abuser distracted by food, alcohol, a sporting game, etc.

Idea/Tip Number 8: Have an escape plan. When you are away in a household that is not your own, quietly check out all possible escape routes in the house itself. Better yet, take time to set up a plan of escape including the numbers of people willing to help you get away. If there is a good chance that your abuser will be in a drunken or drug-induced sleep or stupor over the holidays, it may be your chance to escape with your kids and pets.

For Friends and Extended Families of Victims/Survivors

Idea/Tip Number 9: Be on standby. If you suspect your friend or family member of suffering from Domestic Violence, offer to be on standby for her text or call through the holiday season. Have your phone on and fully charged at all times and keep it on you. If you have a car and need to intervene immediately, make sure that the gas/petrol tank is full so you can get in and drive to get the victim/survivor immediately if need be.

Idea/Tip Number 10: Have an intervention plan. Work out a plan to get an intervention operation in action – have the following numbers on standby for your use:

  • The national Domestic Violence helpline (if your country has it)
  • The local Domestic Violence shelter helpline wherever the victim/survivor is located.
  • The local police wherever the victim/survivor is located.

Make sure to contact all of these should you receive an urgent SOS from the victim/survivor.

Idea/Tip Number 11: Get a partner. Intervening with Domestic Violence situations can be dangerous especially if the abuser has a weapon (e.g. a gun) and is intoxicated by drink or drugs. If you are unable to get help from the local shelter or police, make sure to bring another friend or family member along with you when you respond to the victim/survivor’s call in person.

Idea/Tip Number 12: Ring the bell. If you are the neighbour of a family experiencing Domestic Violence, please take the time to ring their bell when you hear a violent situation happening. You could use the old neighbourly approach of asking to borrow a cup of sugar or some milk as an excuse. If you feel that it could get dangerous, bring another person with you so there will be more than one witness. Check out what this guy did in a PSA by our partner, Bell Bajao:

Idea/Tip Number 13: Be the back-up. If your mother, sister, daughter, daughter-in-law, niece or cousin is facing Domestic Violence at home and there is a good chance that they will face abuse over the holiday season, let them know that you will be willing to be a witness or to intervene on their behalf while you are around. Also let them know that they are welcome to take refuge in your home should they need somewhere to go.

Idea/Tip Number 14: Be part of the plan. If a victim/survivor approaches you with a plan to escape her abuser during the holiday season, agree to do so and be on standby to help her and bolster her resolve when the time comes to put the plan into action.

Idea/Tip Number 15: Provide some relief. If your know a Domestic Violence victim/survivor who is being kept at home without relief during the holiday season, do a random act of kindness for her: Offer to babysit the children for a few hours while the abuser is out so she can have a breather; Send over some small festive goodies such as cookies, candy or something else traditional with a kind note; Offer to pick up groceries for her on your grocery run.

Idea/Tip Number 16: Check in regularly. If you fear for your friend or family member’s life over the holiday season, call or text her once a day at a random time to see if she is all right. If it’s your neighbour, keep an eye out on the house and your ears pricked for any signs or sounds of violence.

16 Safe and Creative Ways for Bystanders to Become Upstanders in Stopping Violence Against Women

For the 13th day of the 16 Days of Activism, we are pleased to share a special blog list of 16 actions that bystanders can take to become upstanders taking action to stop Violence Against Women from our new partner, Breakthrough and their Bell Bajao campaign

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Almost everyone on the planet has been through that harrowing experience where they, someone they know, or someone in their vicinity has been subject to some form of violence. A lot of us know all too well the feeling of helplessness or panic that comes with experiencing a violent situation. It could be something as ubiquitous as street-harassment, or it something as covered-up as domestic violence.

We know that there is no excuse for violence, and we know that violence should never be allowed to happen. So, as witnesses or bystanders to a violent situation, what could we do to stop it from happening? Continue reading