Categories
News & Updates Sexual Assault Violence Against Women

Let’s Unite! to end violence against women

Every act on every level counts! #16DaysSG

 

You might be wondering after #MeToo, #NowWhat?

Through the recent online movement, #MeToo, thousands of women around the world – and in Singapore – came forward to have open and honest conversations about their experiences of surviving sexual violence. #MeToo has not only foregrounded the prevalence of sexual violence in Singapore, but also the silence surrounding the issue. At the end of the day, a hashtag can only go so far: the onus lies on us to take action every day.

We Can! Singapore invites you to be a part of Let’s Unite, a 16-day campaign* to end violence against women. Start taking action these 16 Days, between 25th Nov – 10th Dec 2017 so we can galvanise everyone’s efforts and show that we are building a strong community of support.

If you start saying ‘violence against women happens in Singapore’ → More people will learn about it → Others will say it too → Perpetrators’ behaviours will not be excused → More survivors will seek help → State and social support for survivors will be improved → Violence against women will be on its way out

Tell others that you want to end violence against women – and encourage them to join you!

Start your #16DaysSG journey below.

 

 

 

 

 

*16 Days of Activism is a global campaign that calls on individuals, groups and organisations to stand together against violence against women by pledging their support and taking action from 25 November, the International Day of Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day.

Categories
Blog News & Updates Sexual Assault Violence Against Women [email protected]

Mental Abuse

By Amy* (name changed to protect her identity) 

There are many signs of an abusive partner. They don’t always hurt you 24 hours a day, seven days a week, it could happen once a week, or once a month, but when you do get hurt, it isn’t a matter of how often it occurs, but rather, how it has affected you.

Mental abuse is just one of its many forms of abuse, it changes you internally, leaving you in utter fear, it affects the way you think, behave, speak and act. A very serious and complicated process which leaves you questioning your self worth, shattering your self-esteem and confidence.

An abusive partner takes away your friends, leaving you alone, with no one to turn to but your partner. Preventing you from speaking to your friends or meeting them. Wanting to consistently know and read the conversations which you had with others. They alter the way you dress, constantly telling you that your favourite dress or jeans looks ugly, insisting you never wear it again. Critising the way you look, noticing the little bit of weight you’ve put on or the way you style your hair or wear your make-up,  insisting you alter yourself to their desires. As a good partner yourself, you believe that your abusive partner is merely keeping you in line, “its the culture,” you may think. But these are beyond culture, these are the steps to wrapping their finger around you, and you hadn’t even noticed.

A mentally abusive partner affirms you that everything you do is wrong, he was angry at you because you made him mad. He’d flirt with the opposite sex, because you had an innocent conversation with the opposite sex. He didn’t come home the last two nights, because you defied him. You constantly believe that whatever had happened was your fault, so you keep mum about these events, because you believe that everyone else thinks the same about you.

More often than not, being in a mentally abusive relationship requires you to sit and think about what and who you have become. Losing yourself is one of the many signs of being in an abusive relationship. When you no longer dress the way you want to dress, no longer speak the way you speak, lose close friends because of your partner, or no longer recognize the person staring back at you in the mirror.

Mental abuse is a slow creeping process which ultimately changes who you are, how you behave in situations, being afraid to speak to others, being scared of your partner, constantly ensuring you do not do anything to upset him, or keeping urges of wanting to defy your partner in secret.

But when you do get the chance to speak to a friend or family member, you worry about the things you say to them, because despite loved ones telling you that your partner is unhealthy for you, you’d find yourself making excuses for his behaviour.

These unfortunately signify a mentally abusive partner. And sometimes, it feels impossible to get out of an abusive relationship. There are support systems out there to help, but in order to receive help means to accept the help.

Don’t let yourself believe that there would be no one else out there for you other than your abusive partner. Never feel alone because you aren’t alone.

What you go through happens a lot more than you’d imagine, but it doesn’t mean that you deserve to be mistreated. Nobody deserves to be abused, and that includes you.

If you or someone you know has experienced similar situations, reach out for support through the AWARE Helpline at 1800 774 5935. The AWARE Helpline is run by women, for women. Find out more information here.

About the author: Amy is a survivor of intimate-partner violence. After going through 8 years of mental, physical and verbal abuse, she has managed to live peacefully for the past 4 years and has since moved on with her life. She now hopes to make a difference by raising awareness and sharing her experiences.

 

Categories
Blog News & Updates Rape Culture Sexual Assault

We must end victim-blaming now

by Rio Hoe
The views expressed in this article are Rio’s own. The original article can be found here.

Victim-blaming is unacceptable. It is illogical and rests on a failure to distinguish the importance of precautions and the idea that people deserve to suffer for failing to take them. Rape is a deliberate act; the wrong always lies with the perpetrator, and never the victim.

In the context of rape, victim-blaming is unacceptable. Yet, it happens more often than we think. Take a look at some of the comments on a recent news article by ChannelNews Asia titled, ‘Man on trial for abducting and raping unconscious woman 15 years younger’ (Mar 30).

This above comment was the comment with the most ‘likes’ at time this blog entry was written. The comments section can be found here. There are more:

Rape is avoidable, if men don’t rape.

These sort of views are regressive. People who are raped do not “ask for it”. Rapists are not jailed “because she (the victim) said so”. In the context of rape, it does not “take 2 hands to clap” – in fact, that contradicts the very definition of rape as non-consensual sex. And finally, yes, rape is avoidable, if men don’t rape.

The wrong in rape is the wrong committed by the offender through a deliberate act of penetration despite the victim’s refusal, or inability to give consent. The victim commits no wrong. Even if the victim placed herself in a vulnerable position, it does not at all reduce the wrong committed by the offender. Thinking otherwise is illogical. If we blame rape victims for doing things that increase the likelihood of rape, shouldn’t we also condemn murder victims for failing to carry a weapon, or failing to end an abusive relationship, since these could have avoided a murder? Shouldn’t we also condemn people who become victims of harassment and abuse because they share political views which people dislike, since “they could have kept their mouth shut?”. We don’t, because we understand that people have a right not to be murdered, and a right to express their political views without being abused, or worse, physically harmed. So why do some people not accept that people have a right not to be raped? The fact is, victim-blaming is a problematic and illogical practice, and we should be unafraid to call people out on it, and put an end to it.

I can anticipate several responses to my claims. I will address just three of them for now.

First, one might ask: ‘does this mean we shouldn’t take precautions?’ Of course not. I do not think it is wrong to tell our friends and family to watch their drinks to prevent ‘spiking’, or to moderate their alcohol intake. But we should only do so because we are aware that the world is filled with people with bad intentions, and because we realize society is imperfect, and people do commit wrongs against women. But we should not do so because we believe that failing to take precautions puts the victim in the wrong. These are two very different attitudes to have; the latter constitutes victim-blaming, and is unacceptable.

There is a difference between reminding people to take care of themselves, and to blame them when a bad thing happens to them because they failed to do so

There is a difference between reminding people to take care of themselves, and to tell people that they are to blame when a bad thing happens to them because they failed to take care of themselves. Too many people fail to make this distinction.

Second, one might ask: in cases, such as in car accidents, the liability of the wrongdoer is reduced if the victim’s actions increased the likelihood of the wrong occurring. For example, if I ride my motorbike dangerously, or dash across the road, someone who knocks me down with his car will pay less compensation than if I had used a zebra crossing. So why should this not apply to rape? This argument is not uncommon – I encountered it in the same comments section as the comments above:

Deliberate wrongs belong to a special class of wrongs which attract condemnation despite a victims’ actions.

There is, in fact, a huge difference. In the case of motor accidents, the harm is caused (you guessed it), by accident. This changes the nature of the wrong; it is what we can call an accidental wrong. Hence, the traffic accident case is a different type of case from rape, which is a deliberate wrong. Think about it this way: if someone sets out to murder me by running me over with his car, surely I am not to be blamed for failing to use the overhead bridge, or for leaving my house in the first place. The murderer, through his/her deliberate acts, committed a wrong, and this causes my actions to ‘drop out of the picture’. Deliberate wrongs belong to a special class of wrongs which attract condemnation despite a victims’ actions. This is because the responsibility of the wrongdoer, having direct his/her free will towards causing harm, becomes the focus of our moral and legal censure.

Rapes are caused by people. They are not things that happen to people

Remember that rapes are caused by people. They are not things that happen to people. It is not like getting struck by lightning, or being crushed by a falling tree. Rape is a deliberate act, committed with the intention to harm. Hence, the wrong in rape lies solely with the rapist, never the victim.

Third, one might ask: where it is ‘easy’ to avoid rape, shouldn’t victims attract some blame if they fail to do so? In response, I argue that it is not for anyone to say what is ‘easy’ for someone else. As seen from the comments above, some victim-blamers suggest that for women, it is as ‘easy’ as, for example, not drinking, or avoiding the company of men who have previously made advances towards them.

This is wrong, and let me explain why. Women are already disadvantaged in the workplace due to sexist attitudes, and the fact that corporate leadership remains male-dominated (I recently wrote an article on this). It is unlikely that they can avoid the advancements of their male colleagues, or avoid corporate events that include alcohol, if they wish to advance their careers, since these actions may be seen by the male-led corporate leadership as being ‘unsociable’, or failing to be a ‘team-player’.

Hence, the argument that vulnerable situations are ‘easy’ to avoid ignores the unequal power structures that women have to deal with on a daily basis. In the rape case reported above, for example, it was reported that ‘the victim tolerated Ong’s (the rapist) advances so as not to jeopardise her internship at an F&B company whose owners were friends with the accused’.

I am glad that in the comments section of the above-mentioned news article, some people have called out victim-blamers for their ill-founded views. However the fact that victim-blaming comments regularly end up as the ‘top’ comments (with the most ‘likes’) demonstrate the pervasiveness of this regressive mentality in our society. I hope that my contribution will help people call out those who victim-blame, and explain to them why they are wrong, and why their attitudes must change.

R

This post was contributed by Rio Hoe of ConsensusSG.

Categories
Blog

Catcalling

By Samira Lourdi

In October 2014, a video of a woman who walked the streets of New York City and encountered ten hours of sexual harassment and catcalling went viral. The only thing more worrisome than the video were the comments that came subsequently. Some said she was “asking for it” and others thought she should feel lucky. This demonstrates anew that some people just don’t get it – but it’s not just that. According to some opinions, girls shouldn’t get upset about getting catcalled: It’s just a compliment, so why get upset? While I think that it’s okay that some girls don’t mind getting catcalled, I have to disagree with their reasoning. It’s not a compliment – at least that’s not the aim of the people who do it.

The belief that women should enjoy catcalling is pretty strange because it entails that catcalling is done with respect. It suggests that when a guy sees a girl walking down the street and shouts something at her about her body, he’s doing so because he thinks it will make her day better. That’s utterly false.

Let us take a specific example: catcalling in France. In recent times, street harassment of women in France has been highlighted as a huge problem. In a study done in France in 2015, 100% of the women surveyed said they had experienced harassment in the streets. Feminists in France are doing their best to tackle and lessen the amount of sexual harassment that happens in public spaces.

Walking home alone (late) at night is still a problem for women. Walking home alone in France (late) at night is still a problem for me. I am French and I live in a suburb of the Paris region. I came back to France after spending a few years abroad, notably in the United Kingdom.

I say good-bye to my friends before starting my walk home and my friends tell me to be wary in the dimly lit street. Shortly afterwards, a stranger approaches me attempting to get my attention. I don’t turn around, I keep walking as the man hurls insults after me. Feeling anxious and fearful, I finally get to my front door with the feeling of relief. Thanks to this man, I now don’t feel as safe in ‘my’ area as I did previously. I manage to stay very calm and collected. Why is it always the victim in these situations who must remain rational and in control?  Whenever I step out of my front door, I wear invisible blinkers as a survival strategy. The defensive bubble around me protects me from intrusive behaviour. Without this bubble I wouldn’t be able to face going outside alone. It’s a coping mechanism. It means not making eye contact with people, dressing in a manner that does not stand out from the crowd, etc. This is sad as it restricts women’s freedom. This happens to me. This happens to many women, to many girls – every day.

The following short film by French director Maxime Gaudet is called ‘Au bout de la rue’ (Down the Road). It’s a brief video that helps people understand how women feel when they find themselves walking alone on the street at night.

But why is this happening in France more than in the UK? This is not an issue specific to France. Yet, my French friends who have spent time in the UK and British friends currently living in France are all in agreement that the issue is much worse in my country.

Could it just be that attitudes towards women are different in France than they are in the UK? In the Global Gender Gap Report 2013 rankings, the UK came 18th and France came in 45th, Germany 14th and Spain 17th, so at a sociopolitical/policy level at least, France is way behind its neighbours. I’m not suggesting that street harassment is a thing of the past in the UK but the work of campaigns such as Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates has opened up a dialogue. In the UK, catcalling and other forms of street harassment can no longer be passed off as a little bit of fun or just lads having a laugh.

France is starting to have this conversation too. In May 2012, a Ministry for Women’s Rights was created in France. The French government has a responsibility to ensure that its citizens are safe – all its citizens.

Categories
Blog

Volunteers Open Call: White Ribbon Campaign 2016/7

We Can! Singapore has an exciting opportunity for volunteers and we hope you’ll come on board!

If you’re a boy or man (of any age), and would like to be part of an important and transformative journey to end gender-based violence, we hope you’ll come be part of our upcoming White Ribbon Campaign! The White Ribbon Campaign is a global movement of men and boys working to end male violence against women and girls.

Please read on for more details:

WHITE RIBBON CAMPAIGN 2016/17 ORGANISING TEAM

We Can! Singapore is gearing up to begin preparations for our White Ribbon Campaign 2016/7! The campaign will begin sometime between November 2016 to February 2017. The White Ribbon Campaign is a global movement of men and boys working to end male violence against women and girls. We Can! is looking for men and boys of all ages to join our organising team for our upcoming campaign!

Last year, the organising team put together thought-provoking videos about gender-based violence and a social media campaign, as well as organised a motorbike rally where male volunteers took to the streets to raise awareness about the campaign and distribute white ribbon pins to the public.

What will we do this year to raise awareness about gender-based violence? It’s up to you! If you’re a man and would like to be part of this important and transformative experience, we invite you to join our organising team! Your ideas and contributions will drive the upcoming White Ribbon Campaign and bring it to life.

No experience is necessary, just a heart for social change. (If you enjoy photography, videography, graphic design or are an avid social media user, that would be a bonus.) The organising team will start the planning process sometime in September 2016.

We can’t wait to hear your ideas—if you’re interested to join or need more details, please contact Gracia at [email protected] as soon as possible. We’d appreciate it if you spread the word to friends who might be interested as well. Thank you!

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Categories
News & Updates

Free muralling workshop for the public!

PROGRAMME

We Can! Singapore and EtiquetteSG are organising FREE muralling workshops for the public! The 3-session workshop will provide participants with the opportunity to learn a new art form as well as express their unique identities and stories through it.

These interactive workshops run by experienced artists and facilitators are designed to create safe and stimulating spaces for people to have conversations about various aspects of their identity, share experiences and bond.

DETAILS

Duration: Three 2.5-hour sessions

Dates: 16, 23, 30 August 2016

Time: 4 – 6.30pm

Venue: AWARE Centre

Cost: FREE

Sign up here: http://goo.gl/forms/qTBCI7x5uco8WSLB3

Feel free to contact Gracia at [email protected] for more information.

Don’t wait any longer–sign up now! 🙂

 

Registration closes: 14 August 2016
Categories
News & Updates

Free muralling workshops!

mural

 

PROGRAMME

We Can! Singapore and EtiquetteSG are organising FREE muralling workshops for the community! The 4-session workshop will provide participants with the opportunity to learn a new art form as well as express their unique identities and stories through it.

These interactive workshops run by experienced artists and facilitators are designed to create safe and stimulating spaces for people to have conversations about various aspects of their identity, share experiences and bond. The content can also be easily customised to fit the needs of a particular group.

DETAILS

Duration: Four 2-hour sessions

Pax: 10 – 20 participants

Venue: Your centre/space

Needed: A wall space for muralling (preferably indoors)

Cost: FREE

Feel free to contact Gracia at [email protected] for more information.

Categories
Blog

Language and how it is used against women

Written by Sriraksha Raghavan

J.K. Rowling once said that language is our most inexhaustible source of magic. There is a profundity to this statement that escapes people who engage in cavalier reading. We use words to convey what we mean, but in today’s world, language has been systematically used to convey what we wish to imply but not explicitly say. I say “systematic” because establishments and corporations use the technique of tweaking words to imply meanings that suit their agenda.

hillary

For example, consider the upcoming presidential campaign in America. A woman, Hillary Clinton, is one of the prime contenders for the job. When she is torn down, it is for reasons such as “she is manly”, “she is bossy”, “she is domineering” etc. I’d like to ask you to consider the three words “manly”, “bossy” and “domineering”. Apart from the obvious negativity in those words, they have no correlation with her work! She is not being criticised for being bad at her job. She is being criticised for being a woman trying to do a “man’s” job.words

This does not just pertain to high profile jobs and the top strata of society. Women from all areas of society are subjected to the consequences of sexist vocabulary. This goes on to create the economic inequality we see in the world today. Men are paid more because people are of the opinion that men work better—an opinion they derive from what they read and know. This is by no means the sole reason for the economic divide, but it is a contributing factor.

This poses a bigger problem to women in the lower strata of society because being paid less than men in a job like manual labour—which already has a salary that might be too low to cover basic expenses—means that the women have nearly nothing. In third world and developing countries, where a large number of men below the poverty line suffer from alcoholism, the highest earning member of the family—his wife—is shelling out money to satiate his addiction and care for the family on her salary alone, despite both of them working. This has led to women taking on multiple jobs, which might be beyond their physical and mental capacity.

One might argue that the poor barely have exposure to corporations and urban establishments that use this method of phrasing their words in a way that misrepresents women. But much like the river branching into tributaries and distributaries, and ultimately into streams that flow everywhere, the influence of words from the most powerful people in society percolates until it reaches the most powerless parts, where the intersectional clout of sexism creates many negative consequences in people’s lives.

About the author: Sriraksha is a student with a passion for learning and believes that if you learn anything in depth, a passion for it will follow. She thinks that the best way to enrich one’s life is to enrich that of others and hopes to do that for a living one day.

Categories
Blog

The Women of Hip-Hop

Written by Sriraksha Raghavan

Hip-hop music is considered a highly misogynistic and the lyrics do often portray women in poor light some going as far as making rape references. The genre comes under fire regularly for this reason. This has created a very poor reputation for the genre, which initially emerged as a way for people to voice their struggle, make it an art form. In light of all this bad press it is fitting to mention some pioneers in this area of music. We can thus clarify that which Hip-Hop has some problematic musicians, it is not a problematic genre. It has a fascinating body of work. Here are some women who have contributed to it.

1. MC Lyte

mclyteMC Lyte is the first female rapper to put out a full length solo album. Her songs are in-your-face cheeky and she is hailed as a feminist icon for her hard core rap with a no nonsense persona. She is the founder of the “Hip Hop Sisters Network Foundation” whose tagline reads ‘Redefining the essence of women through Unity and Empowerment’. The foundation works to promote a better image of women from different ethnicities, apart from providing all sorts of assistance, support and even a scholarship to women of colour. Her work clearly speaks for her more than any description can.

2. Lauryn Hill

laurynhillShe was extremely popular as a member of the hip-hop band the Fugees. The name of the band is from the root word Refugee and their music was largely about black empowerment making it highly relevant today. It was however with the release of her first and only solo album that Lauryn sky-rocketed to stratospheric acclaim. The album was called ‘Miseducation of Lauryn Hill’. Apart from being a body of work that brilliantly elucidated what it is to be a woman, the album is also a juggernaut of technicality, showcasing her unbelievable artistry. She went on to win five Grammy awards for this album including album of the year.

3. Queen Latifah

Jan. 8, 2014 - Los Angeles, California, U.S. - QUEEN LATIFAH attends the 2014 People's Choice Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live. (Credit Image: � D. Long/Globe Photos/ZUMAPRESS.com)

Queen Latifah requires no introduction because she is jack of all trades and master of them all. Her musical beginnings were with beat boxing for a hip hop group that caught the attention of major label executives leading to her first album. She is famous for rapping about sensitive subjects like domestic violence, street harassment and harassment in relationships.

4. The Lady of Rage

The Lady of RageBorn Robin Yvette Allen, The Lady of Rage is known for her work with fellow rappers Dr.Dre and Snoop Dogg. Her style of rapping has earned her critical acclaim. She is known for having a deep understanding of poetry, its delivery and flow and wordplay. Her contribution to Paul Edward’s book ‘How to Rap’ shows how much of work and study she puts into her vocation.

5. Yo-Yo

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 12.29.07 pmTo summarize what kind of trailblazer YoY o is, she called her team IBWC which stood for ‘Intelligent Black Women’s Coalition.’ She says that her heavy interest in poetry was channelized into rap after watching a performance by Roxanne Shante’. She made a successful transition into movies in 2000s while continuing to work on her music.  

 

About the Author: Sriraksha is a student with a passion for learning and believes that if you learn anything in depth, a passion for it will follow. She thinks that the best way to enrich one’s life is to enrich that of others and hopes to do that for a living one day. 

Categories
Blog

Purple-haired slut

Written by Tammy Lim, Change Maker

1I always aspired to be a purple-haired unicorn once I was done with Junior College. It was only after A-levels that I could reclaim my body as an individual, since the idea of ridiculously strict dress codes will not apply in my life (for the time being). After highlighting my hair a brilliant purple (I wanted to dye my whole head purple but my parents said it would be ‘weird’), I was then still called ‘weird’ by several of my male classmates. I casually brushed the comments off, until it escalated to the point that it became slut-shaming.

One day, when my brother’s friends were over, I joined them for dinner. My brother, one of the few people who thought my purple hair was cool, excitedly told his friends that I had dyed my hair. That friend of his commented, “Well, at least you’re not like the other girls who dye their hair.” That statement raised a red flag in my mind, so in response, I prompted, “What do you mean by ‘the other girls’?”. To which he replied in a strangely matter-of-fact way, “They’re sluts.” That answer caused an eruption of laughter among my brother and his friends, while it left my mouth hanging open, blood boiling and very appalled.

It seemed like an incredibly innocuous incident that girls with dyed hair would encounter, but I found it extremely disturbing instead.

It was disconcerting to me when my brother’s friends were laughing at how other girls with dyed hair were called ‘sluts’, because it reinforced the notion that it was perfectly acceptable and even  hilarious to call girls derogatory terms for their own pleasure, even though it made no sense. Also, them laughing stems from self-righteous behaviour: knowing that labelling others ‘sluts’ places themselves on a pedestal above girls who have many sexual partners (although it is truly alright to have many sexual partners). However, this present an ironic double standard as boys are celebrated for being sexual, since it is a sign of their supposed masculinity.

It was also strange that my brother’s friends made a mysterious correlation between having brightly coloured hair and being a slut – how does such brilliantly colourful hair even relate to a person having loads of sex? To me, they were being illogical and anyway, it is no one’s business to know if a person has loads of sex and much less condemn it. Though them spouting the common rhetoric that I’m “not like the other girls” was only said to make me feel like I’m the ‘special one’ who is exempted from the brutal ‘slut’ label, it does not make them any less offensive, because it is still sexist.

From this incident, I realized that slut-shaming has grown from bad to worse. It used to be an insult to girls who have sexual agency, but now, it has evolved to a derogatory umbrella term used to punish girls who deviate from the eye-pleasing and feminine ideal of a girl, even when it is completely unrelated to their sexuality. Imposing such an ideal on girls is not only harsh but also dehumanizing, as girls are expected to be sexy, but not sexual, which in itself is contradictory.

Since the incident, I have been trying to think of ways that I could have countered their misogynistic ways. It dawned upon me that it is much more difficult that simply telling them off: how was I supposed to educate a group of males who enjoyed degrading women in the most ridiculous ways? I still struggle to answer this question till today, but I believe the key is to show that feminism is not meant to police and oppress men (and women also), but rather that feminism liberates and benefits everyone, regardless of gender, through its inclusive nature.

To show others such problematic behaviour that is entrenched in their beliefs is akin to presenting themselves with a mirror and pointing out their flaws – something that is incredibly painful for them to recognise and change.

Slut-shaming is a pervasive form of sexist behaviour that should be eliminated. We all ought to think twice before we scream ‘slut’ at a girl who is simply choosing to take ownership of her body – we should simply respect that.

2About the Writer: Tammy is a recent A level graduate who occasionally writes about feminism and enjoys learning more about gender equality advocacy work, how to fight the patriarchy and being a better feminist. She is constantly with E.T pointing at a new horizon that is bright and full of gender equality.