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

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
Blog

Is the internet a man’s world?

 

Written by Camille Neale, Change Maker

1onlinevawThe EU Human Rights seminar held last month (“Progress and Perspectives for Women’s rights in Singapore and ASEAN”) explored the progress of women’s rights since Singapore’s accession to CEDAW in 1995, with a particular view towards the future – what still needs to be done, what are the current challenges and what are the challenges that may emerge down the line? One serious challenge to gender equality and women’s rights that was cited is online violence against women.

The Internet is a significant means by which people are socialised; it is now one of the main ways that information is distributed and culture is reproduced. Children as young as three are being connected to the internet and learning about the world through it. 59% of young people say that the Internet is shaping who they are.

Being a woman on the internet

2ovawBeing a woman with an internet connection means being subjected to an almost constant stream of violent online commentary. Violence against women through the internet can mean anything from hate speech, hacking, identity theft, online stalking, threats and even convincing a target to end their lives.

The internet is one place where the insidious nature of gender roles and sexism are made very clear. While outright instances of misogyny and sexism are now less socially acceptable in the public realm, the Internet is one place where this notion has yet to catch on. It has become just one of many spaces where men tell women to get out. Read the comment section of any article, any YouTube video and you are bound to find some man deriding women, their bodies, and pretty much anything to do with them. The abuse comes no matter what, just for being a woman on the Internet. This kind of harassment is something that women experience almost daily and 73% of women on the Internet report having experienced cyber violence.  Why is the Internet a space where it is seemingly okay for misogynists to run wild?

Crying free speech

 

3ovawUnder the guise of “free speech” social media sites and other websites often feature videos and photos of women being sexually assaulted or revenge porn. Prominent women figures, bloggers and journalists are frequently abused online for daring to express their opinions, especially in fields that are traditionally deemed the domain of men, such as politics or I.T. A report called “Misogyny on Twitter,” found 6 million instances of the use of the word “slut” or “whore” in English between December 26, 2013 and February 9, 2014, and of these 20% were believed to be threatening. Women gamers often choose to use a male avatar so they won’t have to put up with lewd or threatening comments from male gamers. There are entire websites dedicated to women bashing, and to decrying that feminists are all man-haters and feminism is destroying society. It’s not uncommon to find violently sexist memes about women all over Facebook.

Taking violence offline

Another concern is the way that the internet is facilitating violence against women in the “real world.” The internet is increasingly being used to conduct human trafficking as it makes it easier for traffickers to recruit women, children and men. The way that women are portrayed and treated online serves to normalise and glorify violence against them. Studies have shown that after viewing porn and other sexually explicit content about women, men are more likely to: “report decreased empathy for rape victims; report believing that a woman who dresses provocatively deserves to be raped and report increased interest in coercing partners into unwanted sex acts”. Some of the first images and information about sex that boys are exposed to includes violence towards a woman–it’s terrifying to think of the kinds of ideas about women that are being encouraged.  

The anonymity of the internet, the fact that there is not a live human being in front of you reacting to what you’re doing, gives men an incentive to troll at their leisure.

It’s true that the internet has brought a host of social benefits. However, it has become a really scary place for women– filled with instances of slut-shaming, rape threats and general violence directed at women’s bodies. Women don’t feel safe expressing their views on the internet and this is a significant barrier to their ability to take advantage of the opportunities that the internet can provide.

Frequently, cyber-violence is not taken to be a serious issue. Part of the problem is that those who are expected to respond to the problem, police officers, people working in the tech industry, are all working in fields that continue to be dominated by men who don’t have to live with the reality of the kinds of harassment that women face everyday. As a consequence, women who experience these violations have little or no redress. Women who try to call out these sexist behaviours and standards online are either told to shut up or to calm down because it’s just a joke.

Online violence silences women by emphasising that women occupy a lower social position to men. What’s more, we don’t trust women’s voices to talk about serious issues; most authors of magazine articles, news and so on are men. Men are constantly telling women not to be so emotional, to stop complaining about things that happen to them, basically to stop talking about themselves in public.

Safe online and offline spaces

Online violence is no joke, we need to stop letting boys off the hook for treating women badly. We need to create an environment that is more welcoming to women. Focusing on the response of the victim rather than trying to address this kind of harmful behaviour isn’t going to solve the problem anyway.

What we need is greater accountability; websites need to get better at monitoring harmful content. One survey of 84 countries found that 74% of those surveyed are doing nothing to stop online violence. Experts agree that what’s needed is for companies to provide greater transparency, to attract female talent to their companies, and to dedicate more time to training staff to understand and perform moderation. Talks about online bullying in schools needs to address this gendered component. Until we treat violence against women as a serious issue, until we recognise the value of women’s voices and strive for gender equality, women will continue to be marginalised and subject to violence.

What will it take for violence against women, both online and offline, to not be the norm?

About the author: Camille is a recent university graduate who is still figuring out what she wants to do with her life. She hopes that whatever that is, she will be able to wear a power suit and be really intimidating.

Categories
Blog

A platform of sexism

Anonymous blog post

A while ago, I found out the most horrifying thing about a close friend of mine. He was using the fact that I was a legal adult but still able to pull off a schoolgirl look to feed his fetishes. We agreed to have a shoot and at that time, I thought it was only for artistic and photographic purposes.

That was, until my friends showed me a forum where this close friend of mine is a member. What I read in the forum filled me with utter horror.

There is a thread in the forum where men discuss their fetish for various secondary school uniforms in Singapore. They were posting pictures of them ejaculating on the uniforms, asking for suggestions on which school uniform they should cum on next and cheering each other on. This close friend of mine also posted some pictures of him ejaculating on several secondary school uniforms. The worst thing was that some users shared the photos of the girls whose uniforms they had ejaculated on. Those girls are just secondary school girls!

This forum is none other than Sammyboy Forum.

A quick glance at the rest of the forum made me understand why the moderators did not do anything about the thread. Sammyboy Forum is a place where discussion about any type of fetish and any topic of sexual nature is acceptable, regardless of how non-consensual the activity or hateful the discussion. There is even a place for users to share uncensored photos of girls they had sex or nude photoshoots with, with or without their consent. Users also share tips about how to sexually groom a girl into agreeing to take nude photoshoots.

Why is such a forum allowed to exist? A forum where women are nothing but sexual objects to satisfy the fetishes of the users. A forum where women are trophies and prizes in the eyes of those users.

I understand that we need a venue to share and discuss sexual fantasies because sexual freedom is important in our conservative culture. But there should be limits to that. Every party involved should be consenting. Every party involved should be treated as a person with feelings and needs, instead of being objectified as a fetish object. What would the impact be on a young person who happened to stumble upon this forum? What would they believe to be the norm with regards to sex and women?

I hope that something can be done about this forum, and its contents to be moderated. Sexual freedom should be encouraged in Singapore, but learning to respect a person and understand consent is important as well.

Categories
Blog

RALLY: for art, music and conversations for change


WE CAN POSTER - 4 SEPT SMALLRALLY,
v. coming together for a common purpose.

Celebrate solidarity, support, collaboration and allyship at We Can! Arts Fest on December 6 – back for the third year in a row!

What does it mean to be an ally for gender equality? How can we support the causes we feel strongly about without overpowering the voices we want heard? How can we do this through art, music and conversation?

If you:

– love art and performances that provoke critical thought and empower your audience
– wish to showcase your talents to inspire action for change
– want to meet like-minded artists and activists
– have a voice or a story that you want to share with others

….then we invite you to be part of RALLY, and be featured alongside other artists and activists in Singapore! Band together for a day of art, music, films, performance and dialogue. Be part of the Change Maker movement towards a safer, inclusive, more diverse reality.

Submit a proposal for your performance, programme or exhibition to us!

More details on what to include in the proposal in the link above. Send your proposal to [email protected]


About the We Can! Arts Fest

10869589_884245438277055_5022304249781370802_oWe Can! Arts Fest is an arts festival by We Can! Singapore and its partners in conjunction with ‘16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence’, an international campaign marked by the UN and other groups around the world. 16 Days of Activism starts on 25 November, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and ends on 10 December, Human Rights Day. It aims to raise awareness about gender-based violence as a human rights issue at the local, national, regional, and international level.

We Can! Arts Fest offers a platform to bring together arts, performance, and community-based events in solidarity with the international movement, and to make an impact locally. We Can! Singapore will also run a parallel social media campaign to build up towards the festival.

Read more about The Silence of Violence: We Can! Arts Fest 2013 here and take a look at our photo gallery here!

Read more about Breakthrough: We Can! Arts Fest 2014 here and take a look at our photo gallery here!

Categories
Blog

A statistical approach to ‘She cried rape’

by Min, Change Maker

article-new-thumbnail-ehow-images-a07-of-7f-out-police-interrogation-800x800-2A scantily-clad woman with a black dress, high heels, red lipstick and smoky eye make-up approaches the officer. The officer stares at her, scrutinising her from head to toe. He shakes his head.

“So, you say you’ve been raped?” he asks.

The woman nods. Despite her strong and confident outer appearance, inside, she is scared. She is trying not to think about it, but she is deeply traumatised.

“Really? But you followed him back to his apartment willingly,” he questions her skeptically. Glancing at the documents, he adds, “Besides, you have a very active sex life. 100 men in a year, I hear.”

She sighs. They don’t believe her.

Her case is not uncommon in Singapore. In fact, until 2012, Section 157(d) of the Evidence Act made it possible to discredit a victim of sexual assault based on her sexual history. This means that if a victim is known to be a very sexually active person, the judges are less likely to believe that she has been sexually assaulted or raped.

There are several reasons why people would think a woman would cry rape. The reasons ranges from revenge to regretting a one night’s stand.

However, how many of rape accusations are really false allegations?

The percentage of false rape allegations cases are few, even insignificant

The numbers may be shocking to some. In the United States, 8% of rape allegations are false. In other countries, it ranges from between 1.5% to 10%. Research by National Center for the Prosecution of Violence Against Women reports through research that 2 to 8% of rape allegations are false.

This means that when a woman claims to be raped, often times than not, she is telling the truth.

Besides, false rape allegations are also unlikely to happen because of stigma attached to having been raped

imgp3886

Society has a wide range of negative responses to someone who’s been raped. Victim-blaming is common, blaming them for dressing too inappropriately and/or simply ‘asking for it’. Society might look down upon them, and perceive them as ‘cheap’ and ‘used’, because they are no longer ‘innocent’. Other times, they will be told to keep silent, because being raped is disgraceful.

Hence, it is even more unlikely that a woman would risk all that just to pretend to be a rape victim.

In fact, many cases of rape or sexual assault go unreported

In Singapore, 90% of sexual crimes are not reported. A survey has also shown that 75% of physical and sexual violence cases are unreported.

As friends and family, we should do our best to be understanding and supportive whenever our loved ones confide in us about a sexual assault or rape. Being judgmental or brushing the topic aside only risks denying justice to those who experience rape or sexual assault.

Conclusions

imagesI strongly believe we, not just as a society but as family and friends of someone who’s been raped, should listen attentively whenever someone confides in us instead of jumping to conclusions straightaway. I have never had any friends who have been raped, but I do know that if I had one, I would listen to their story and support them all the way. After all, what is a friend if they won’t believe your side of the story?

I think society should also be more mindful when making assumptions about a person. It does not mean a woman is lying about rape just because she was sexually active, may have agreed to be alone with the man and/or had said initially yes to a sexual advance.

Rape can happen to anyone.

About the author: Min is someone who is not afraid to speak out if she believes that something needs to be said or done. Many a times, her strong passion and faith in her beliefs lead to little changes being done. She hopes that others will do the same.

Categories
Blog

Gaming As Women

by Ming Gui, Change Maker

From the massive underrepresentation of females in video games to the sexualisation of female characters, video games have been responsible for promoting gender norms and stereotypes. Since we were young, we have seen female characters like Princess Peach and Zelda portrayed as damsels in distress, waiting around for a male character to rescue them.

So why these stereotypes are an issue, and what are their impact?

Firstly, it encourages negative attitude and beliefs

Warrior_FemaleIn games like Grand Theft Auto, Tomb Raider and Dead or Alive, female characters are shown as scantily-clad women with large breasts, an impossibly slim figure and a face that society would describe as beautiful or sexy. In fact, a study by Dill and Thill in 2005 found that 80% of video games include such portrayal of women. Female characters are also, more often than not, portrayed as weak, dependent or as damsels in distress.

What kind of message would this send to the players? That girls should aim to achieve the body of, and dress just like, the female characters in order to be liked? Or that women are supposed to always wait around for a guy to rescue her?

How are you even supposed to fight enemies while dressed like that? I would be too busy pulling and adjusting that thin piece of cloth covering my important parts whenever I walked.

Secondly, it encourages tolerance and support for sexual harassment and rape

Research by Dill, Brown, and Collins found that long-term exposure to violent video games can lead to more tolerance towards sexual violence. One possible reason could be that because video games portray sexual harassment and rape as the norm, it is also seen as the norm by the player, even in real life. Sometimes, the game might even praise the player for using such violent means to progress through a mission.

17pofc3mjy2xsjpgThis is further supported by a study done by Yao, Mahood, and Linz. Of the 74 males who were assigned to play either a sexually-explicit or non-sexually-explicit game, those who played a sexually-explicit game were more likely to view women as sex objects and display inappropriate behaviours towards them.

Some may argue that men are equally objectified in video games because they are portrayed to be muscular, strong and impossibly well-built. However…

If we examine the traits given to female and male characters, we will notice that female characters are usually portrayed to have no other personality other than their big bust and beautiful figure. Whereas for male characters, they are usually portrayed as not just muscular, but strong, courageous and brave. There is a difference in the messages the game sends across to each gender. Being portrayed as nothing but a beautiful figure is not the same as being portrayed as a muscular and strong person. One is passive while the other is active.

As video game critique Jimquisition points out, there is a difference: Female characters are objectified while male characters are idealised.

As the video game industry is worth billions of dollars with millions of players, changes need to be made in the video game industry in order to further promote the cause of gender equality. If game producers were to be a little more mindful of the gender stereotypes they portray in their games, we will be one step closer to gender equality.

As a child, I remember that my favourite game is Super Mario. In the game, Princess Peach is always being kidnapped by the big bad guy Browser, and it is up to Mario and Luigi to save her. Because the characters are cartoons and I play as Mario, it does not have that much of an impact on my views of men and women. However, I recall finding myself wishing that I can play as Princess Peach instead, and have my own adventures to escape from Browser’s castle.

15gaming-callout-master1050As I got older, the gaming world grew as well. I started playing a few MMORPGs. In these games, I noticed that female characters always have great clothes, really big busts and just look really pretty. I remember spending a lot of time customising my character. Before I knew it, I started wishing that I could look like them. I even started altering my appearance, and buying accessories that looks like the character’s. Looking back, it was the first time I actually took notice of my own appearance and started being self-conscious. It affected me slightly, as I fought to attain the unachievable beauty of my character, spending hours in front of my computer screen and visualising myself looking like my character.

Now, as a young adult, I feel confident with my own looks. I now play games for the plot and storyline, not for the beauty of the characters. However, my story illustrates the impact that gaming has on young teenagers who are still learning to accept and love their own bodies.

As a hardcore female gamer, I would love to play a game where female characters are shown as brave warriors, but without being scantily-clad or sexualised. I would love to play a game where male characters are not always the aggressive one, and are capable of showing emotions.

I would love to play a game meant for everybody.

References:

Dill, K. E., Brown, B. P., & Collins, M. A. (2008). Effects of exposure to sex-stereotyped video game characters on tolerance of sexual harassment. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 44(5), 1402–1408. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2008.06.002

Dill, K. E, & Thill, K. P. (2007). Video game characters and the socialization of gender roles: Young people’s perceptions mirror sexist media depictions. Sex Roles, 57, 851–864. doi:10.1007/s11199-007-9278-1

Yao, M. Z., Mahood, C., & Linz, D. (2009). Sexual priming, gender stereotyping, and likelihood to sexually harass: Examining the cognitive effects of playing a sexually-explicit video game. Sex Roles, 62(1-2), 77–88. doi: 10.1007/s11199-009-9695-4

About the Author: Min is a hardcore gamer with a Steam library loaded with games. She loves Skyrim, Two Worlds, GTA, Vampire: The Masquerade, Pokemon, Ace Attorney, Final Fantasy, and the list could stretch on for miles. She hopes to play more games that allows her to play as a strong female character.  

Categories
Blog

What I learnt from my cyber-bullying experience

by Hazel Que Miaoye, Change Maker

I had always examined cyber-bullying from an outsider’s perspective, with a considerable degree of detachment. Even after engaging in extensive class discussions and readings, subconsciously, I safely assumed that I would never become a victim of online harassment.

cyber-bullyingI wasn’t until one year ago that I realized how wrong I was. Back then, I was involved in a project that aims to promote internship opportunities across high schools in Singapore. To understand the extent of student participation in internships and analyze the types of internships undertaken, my team crafted a detailed set of survey questions for high schoolers to answer. I posted the survey on my Facebook timeline, and among all the responses – responses that should be academic, professional and unrelated to sex at all – one made the exception and overwhelmed me with horrifying disbelief – under please describe the internship you’ve participated in, ‘F*ck Miaoye’ was the title, while sexually explicit scenes filled the space below details of your internship. As if that’s not insulting enough, the respondent bombarded me with slut-shaming slurs at the end, with all the steps done anonymously. Only my friends in real life had access to my Facebook account. So who did it? Why did he/she direct such threatening messages to me, when I did not even do anything that deserved it? I was clueless. It was betrayal, disrespect and hurt all rolled into one – a distasteful combination I could barely digest.

Fortunately, the initial phase of anxiety and bitter disappointment did not last long. As my emotions took a backseat to reason, I turned to my peers for support and advice. However, after listening to my encounter, they conveniently brushed me off with casual remarks such as “Maybe it’s just a prank”. One member even suggested deleting that particular survey response, so that those words would not reappear while I was collecting other results and I could “forget about it and move on”.

I was genuinely disturbed by their words, which reflected the (unfortunately still) widespread belief that sexual oppression towards girls is common and should not be taken seriously; that victims are supposed to deal with everything, while the wrongdoers are free from responsibility, condemnation and guilt. It is precisely this dangerous tendency to trivialize physical and/or psychological harm that’s silencing women and perpetuating sexism and gender-related violence. I never felt as compelled to make a meaningful difference through my actions, however insignificant they might seem to be.

My first instinct was to confront the perpetrator, telling him/her outright that how much a loser he/she is (I’m not going to make assumptions about the person’s gender, but whether the person is a male or not, my experience is a sobering reminder that sexual harassment is disproportionately aimed at women), which was completely impractical due to the anonymity. I even considered posting a Facebook message addressed to him/her as a warning, but the plan was soon dismissed because I thought it would not be effective. Is there any other way I could connect to them at all? No.

think beforeThe most I could do was to prepare for what I felt was the worst-case scenario. For that, I looked for my Economics teacher (who’s more like a friend) the next day. She was outraged by the insensitive act and promised to protect me if the person attempts to hurt me in real life. The ugly episode brought the feminist out of both of us. We talked about how some boys are perpetuating chauvinism (and other ‘-ism’s as they translate masculinity into superiority) in class, and how the others – especially the girls, who are more affected by gender inequality – should never hesitate to challenge sexism manifested in every facet of our daily lives.

The conversation became the inspiration for me to continue to promote awareness of feminist issues, even after the incident faded away. The person’s identity and intentions, though still a mystery, no longer concern me anymore; I only think about how to reduce, if not eradicate the injustice, prejudices and harm that are inflicted on women and men alike, as a result of gender inequality and gender stereotypes. So, in the spirit of feminism, I have a few tips regarding cyber-bullying to offer (which may seem like common sense, but are often forgotten in the cases of real harassment):

  •  If you are a victim, it is natural to be afraid. However, if you feel like you are able to do so safely and are comfortable in doing so, you should speak up about your experiences.
  • If you are a friend of a victim, show some care and empathy; it’s never too much to offer your friends love and protection during their tough times.
  • If you intend to cause harm, or have bullied, harassed or abused someone online for whatever reason, acknowledge and own your actions. It’s not too late to change yet. Think about how your casual actions are ruining someone’s life, and how you would hate to be in that someone’s position; apologize if you can. It’s really not that hard to make a meaningful difference.

IMG_6094 2About the author: Hazel is proudly bisexual, unwaveringly feminist and almost turned completely anarchist after reading Noam Chomsky’s book. She seems to defy all your stereotypes about China girls, but well, stereotypes are stupid anyway.

Categories
Blog

Stop Sexist Behaviour Online

by Delia Toh, Change Maker

Halloween has just passed. I actually considered going to a party as an Internet troll just for laughs (my costume would be a cardboard face mask to symbolise anonymity and a neon jacket to symbolise obnoxiousness). However, it is slightly discouraging that Internet trolls are not merely fantasy or a source of harmless entertainment like our beloved Halloween character, the Frankenstein’s monster. Internet trolls are very real and they are everywhere. Anyone active on online spaces can attest to that.

it_photo_108658Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter allow people to hide behind the cloak of anonymity without being accountable for their actions. Furthermore, increasingly complicated privacy settings make it more difficult for users to control access to their personal information. Women in particular bear the brunt of cyber harassment that sometimes borders on outright cruelty. Famous blogger Xiaxue encountered her fair share of online trolls who called her degrading names for sharing her thoughts on politics in 2012 (but we’ve got to love that she gave the online misogynists a taste of their own medicine).

There are many ways the Internet can make a woman fear for her own safety. Women might have experienced one or more of the following online:

  1. Rape and/or death threats after sharing her opinion online.
  2. Being cyber stalked by people who abuse their personal information in order to harass them. This could also be in the form of persistent unwelcome comments and messages on social media.
  3. Having their Facebook or Instagram photographs stolen and used for malicious purposes.
  4. Find themselves the target of a group of online trolls who rallied against them. These groups work together to write nasty comments that are usually of a sexual nature, including and not limited to their appearance or desirability to men.

cyber-bully-3-finalCyber harassment affects many internet users today, but women in particular are targeted simply for the fact that they are women. It targets their very personhood – either for the purposes of sexual objectification or humiliation. This is not only disrespectful but damaging to the victim’s emotional and physical health.

As much as we value the freedom of speech, we cannot allow it if people do not practise responsibility of speech as well. A good way to start would be to educate people on sensitivity and respecting boundaries. In a world where sexism, racism and other forms of bigotry are very much rampant, we can take positive steps with our actions and words online. Calling out rude, hostile and bullying behaviour towards women online definitely sends a powerful message that women deserve a safe and respectful environment.

deliaAbout the author: Delia is a second year Chemical Engineering undergraduate at University College London. She has enjoyed blogging since her secondary school days. She would now like to move on from raving about school work to raising awareness through her writing. She strongly believes people are more different than similar, and that individuals ought to be valued for who they are inside.

Categories
Blog

The Day I Became a Change Maker

by Foo Jun Kit, Change Maker

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I signed up for the Change Maker Workshop. Prior to this, I thought violence only referred to physical and sexual abuse. I expected a lecture on the severity of rape and tips on how to deal with rape cases, but walked out of the room gaining much more than that.

My initial notions on violence against women were already proven wrong right from the start. Violence is much more than physical and sexual abuse; it includes many other aspects such emotional abuse, intimidation and economic abuse.  During the workshop, we were exposed to several scenarios, demonstrating how gender-based violence can occur all around us without us being aware. Gender-based violence could happen in a workplace, a party, or even at home! It happens everywhere, and we should be able to identify them and intervene if possible.

What struck me most was learning about victim blaming. I never knew that such an issue was so relevant to me. Victim blaming, as the name suggests, refers to wrongly shifting the blame onto a victim. This makes them feel worse about what they went through when we should be offering support and assistance to them instead. After all, they have experienced something traumatic. This idea of victim blaming may sound foreign to some, but common phrases such as “why didn’t you…” or “you could have…” are examples of victim blaming.

In fact, instead of additionally pressurising an already distressed victim, it is only right to help them by offering them options and respecting her decision. For example, support the rape victim’s decision not to seek professional advice. It is very easy for a bystander to tell her to make a police report, but we are often unable to fully comprehend the situation and the feelings of the victim. If we impose our opinions on the victim instead of helping her, it may cause her further emotional stress because our decisions may not be entirely suitable for her situation. Therefore, think twice before blaming a victim for an incident or instructing her on what action to take. Rather, talk to her and support her decisions.  This is crucial because the first person the victim consults impacts her decisions the most.

BSA_molest_FA_pathSome recent events also perpetuate violence against women, especially victim blaming. Just last year, the Singapore Police Force put up a poster addressing molestation with the tagline “Don’t get rubbed the wrong way.” This advertisement is a perfect example of victim blaming.  By instructing women to “have someone escort you home when it is late”, “avoid walking through dimly lit and secluded areas alone” and “shout for help and call 999, don’t be a silent victim”, molesters are absolved of   blame. The message seems to imply that it is the victim’s fault for getting molested because she did not protect herself well. This should not be the case. While these crime prevention posters have good intentions, they should really be targeting the molesters instead of telling victims to prevent sexual assault. That way, victims can be assured that being molested was not their fault.

Come spend a bit of your time to find out more about victim blaming and other pertinent gender-based violence issues such as rape culture and privilege.  Schedules for the monthly Change Maker workshops can be found at the We Can! Singapore website.  I assure you, your time will be very well spent!

jun kitAbout the Author: Jun Kit is a Year 4 student at Raffles Institution, although often mistaken to be primary school student due to his massive height.  He is an avid fan of football but enjoys playing badminton too. Maybe one day, he’ll represent Singapore at the World Cup and lead the country to glory.  Besides playing sports, he is also a fan of writing and has his own blog page, albeit filled with football content. But at the moment, he’s focused on his studies and is all pumped up for the upcoming O Level Higher Chinese Examinations. Right.