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.


Understanding Violence Part II: Guidelines for supporting friends

This is part 2 of the Understanding Violence guidelines series. Take a look at Part 1 here

Woman-crying_920x380_scaled_cropp1.  Support them through their choices.

If they want to make a police report or go to the hospital, offering to go with them for support can make a big difference.

  • If they are open to seeing a counsellor, you can offer to call and make an appointment for them.
  • If they agree to make a safety plan, you can make it with them.
  • You can follow up with them on steps they wanted to take, checking in gently to see how they’re doing and if they have made any progress on that/require further support. 

2.  Offer resources. Often, people may not realise what options are available to them. Look up resources for support in such a situation, and share them with your friend. It could be a helpline number, free legal services, counselling services, etc. Educate yourself on the available options and discuss them with your friend. If you are able to, and comfortable with it, you can also offer personal resources. For example, they may need some money or a place to stay temporarily while they figure out their next steps. 

3.  Be sensitive to their position. When a victim of violence is queer, disabled, poor, an ethnic or religious minority, an immigrant, is lacking family support or is facing other societal and structural barriers, they may have even less access to conventional modes of support. Be sensitive to their particular situation, and don’t assume anything about their experience. 

4.  Encourage them to document their experience(s) of violation or abuse, with as many accurate details as possible. Even if they are not intending to make a police report at present, evidence collection and accounts of their experience can help build a case if they change their mind in the future or if the violence escalates and they want to seek legal recourse. 

support-survivors-sign5.  Self care is essential. When our loved ones experience trauma, it often affects us too. While supporting them, we must be responsible in caring for ourselves too and remember to do little things for ourselves that keep our spirits up, and seek help if we need to. 

6.  Encourage them to seek professional help. There are limits to the extent that friends and family can support someone experiencing trauma. Trained professionals can provide support in a multitude of ways, ranging from hotlines and counselling services to legal advice and casework. Encourage them to get the help they need if and when they are ready to. 

7.  Intervening during an incident of violence can be difficult, and even dangerous, but not impossible. Your safety is top priority. Every situation is different, but some ways people have effectively intervened when they witness sexual harassment or abusive behaviour are:

  1. Calling the police
  2. Asking the victim if they are OK or need help
  3. Getting the attention of others around so you have support and can speak in a collective voice
  4. If the perpetrator is known to you, and you feel you have the power to intervene safely (e.g. your friend is getting aggressive or touchy with someone in a club), you can leave with them, take them away from that area/the victim, or persuade them to stop.
  5. Distraction can be useful. In a case of molest on public transport, or catcalling, you can pretend to know the victim and strike up a conversation with them, offer your seat to the victim, or place yourself between them and the perpetrator.

Think about different scenarios you have been in and strategies that might be helpful. Talk to others about their experiences and strategies.

Supportive responses Unsupportive responses
•       It’s not your fault

•       I believe you

•       We’re here for you

•       What do you want to do?

•       What can I do to help?

•       Should we look up options together?

•       We can talk about it whenever you want to

•       This matters. You matter.

•       You don’t deserve to go through this.

•       I’m so sorry that happened.

•       (The perpetrator) is responsible for what happened, not you.

•       Who else do you trust to talk about this to?

•       Do you want me or someone else to talk to (the perpetrator)?

•       Do you want some space?

•       I’m going to support you no matter what.

•       You have nothing to be ashamed of.

•       You didn’t let it happen, (the perpetrator) chose to do it.

•       It’s your own doing

•       You can’t call that abuse/rape

•       You have to leave him!

•       Don’t take it so seriously

•       Are you sure?

•       What were you wearing?

•       Why did you…? / Why didn’t you…?

•       You have to take care of yourself better.

•       Don’t talk to that person anymore.

•       You chose to date a guy like that

•       Think about your kids/others

•       I told you so

•       Don’t exaggerate/Don’t lie

•       Just ignore it

•       Forget about it, it’s no big deal

•       How could you let this happen?

•       Let it go/It’s time to get over it

•       Think about (the perpetrator’s) life

•       Toughen up/Stop crying

•       You can’t let people treat you like that

•       If you weren’t so weak, this wouldn’t happen


How can I stand up against sexual harassment?

Anonymous contribution

This is a serious topic. It is also controversial, uncomfortable, and one that I’ve considered voicing before. Even today, I write this with a lot of hesitation.

If I documented all the instances of sexual harassment I’ve encountered, I could probably write chapter or two of a book by now. If someone else told me they had encountered similar situations, I would unequivocally urge them to take action immediately.

SHslider4bYet it is something I have never done. Why? Because my image and my career are way more important to me. Because I brush it off like I’ve learnt to brush off everything else unpleasant that comes my way (Because that’s life, right?). Because it is not worth the hassle to me. Because apparently not everyone has the same moral compass. Because ours is a society of victim-blaming. Or that is how I have justified it to myself time and again. I know it’s not right. But I also don’t know if this is a cause I want to get up in arms about. Because I’m comfortable in my own coping mechanisms. I am also acutely aware that it is my silence (and the silence of many others) that empowers the perpetrators.

But today, for me, a nerve was struck. I wonder what gives some men the gall to think they can say or do whatever they want, and it is fine? I imagined myself saying some of the things that have been said to me and I don’t know in what world I would think it okay to say that to another person whom I clearly interact with only in a professional manner, and have never given a reason to think otherwise.

And in each instance and interaction of this kind, it has been crystal clear to me that any respect or regard for my intellect or character is only secondary (if at all existent) to the objectification of my body. It bothers me a lot that in this day and age, capable women, who are in every way equal to their male counterparts, still need to be subjected to this objectification. It bothers me that we as a society have not yet found a solution to these fundamental issues arising out of a lack of respect (and in some cases, even consent).

I don’t know what the answer is, I honestly don’t. And, I am somewhat ashamed to say, I still stand by my very poor coping mechanism of silence. But I do know that as a society we can all do better. A lot, lot better.


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.


The scourge of cyber harassment

By Kimberly Lim, Change Maker

According to the Pew Research Center, 73% of adults had witnessed some form of cyber harassment in 2014 alone. Widespread cyber harassment has prompted individuals like Monica Lewinsky to commit themselves to ending cyber bullying. However, the issue of cyber harassment is multifaceted and women are disproportionately the victims of cyber-harassment.huffpost

1.  Stalking

Perhaps one of the most well-known forms of cyber harassment is stalking. Today, personal information like email addresses and photographs is easily accessible online. It is also possible to obtain private information illegally through hacking, as seen from the recent leak of nude celebrity photographs on the imageboard 4chan. But more than often, it is not celebrities, but ordinary people who are targeted—one of the most famous cases is that of Randi Barber in the 1990s, whose stalker revealed her home address on sex chat lines and online advertisements, putting her in danger. Such stories are no longer uncommon in today’s context, as seen from movies like “Cyber Stalker”, where protagonist Aiden Ashley’s online stalker broke into her home.

2.  Slut-shaming

know your memeIncreasingly, the proliferation of social media and the ability to hide behind anonymity have fuelled malicious attacks on individuals perceived as sexually promiscuous. In 2013, the hashtag #slanegirl was particularly infamous, as Twitter users collectively denounced a girl caught performing oral sex at a concert venue, with some even going to the extent of publishing her full name and age on online public spaces. More recently, schools in USA are facing protests after humiliating students who were perceived to be inappropriately dressed by forcing them to wear loose fitting “shame suits”. Such behavior, however, irresponsibly perpetuates the damaging outlook that victims are responsible for their own plight, while removing responsibility from perpetrators.

3.  Revenge “Porn”

The non-consensual distribution of sexual images has also become worryingly common. This usually occurs after a breakup, where intimate pictures or videos are posted as a form of retaliation. According to the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, 1 in 10 have threatened to post explicit material implicating their former partners, while 93% of victims have undergone extreme emotional distress. Only recently have lawmakers begun to formulate specific legislation tackling revenge porn; under California’s new anti-revenge porn laws, Noe Iniguez was the first to be sentenced in December 2014.

4.  Rape Videos

telegraphThe glorification of rape has also, unfortunately, emerged as part of the culture of violence online. Underscoring the popular hashtag #Jadapose is the cruel mockery of 16 year old Jada, whose rapists posted pictures of her online. In Russia, with intolerance towards the LGBT community on the rise, videos featuring vigilantes humiliating and physically hurting homosexuals have become widespread as well.

Underscoring all forms of cyber harassment is the common theme of violence, lack of empathy and the erosion of human dignity. In Singapore, we have recently proposed new anti-harassment laws, encompassed in the Protection from Harassment Act. However, the extent to which legislation can combat entrenched anti-social behaviour remains to be fully seen. Nonetheless, we can remain optimistic that with recognition from the law that cyber harassment is undesirable, social paradigms may likewise shift in a more positive direction as well.

About the Author:

Kimberly is a recent junior college graduate. She has a fascination for history and an unhealthy obsession over fluffy things. Currently, she is enjoying her life after the A Levels and is trying her hand at felt knitting, constantly leaving traces of wool in her wake, much to the chagrin to her friends and family.


Rape culture is our problem too

[two_third] In an article in The Kent Ridge Common, Sakunika Wewalaarachchi looks at the fixation that the world, including Singapore, had on the gang rape of Jyoti Singh in Delhi in 2012. Part of this fixation was the tendency to characterise rape and misogyny as endemic to the Indian culture.

Protest against rape

In fact, women around the world only stand to suffer more when rape culture and misogyny are perceived as the product of conditions specific to a country – low levels of education, poverty, lack of economic development or modernisation, “backwardness” – and not as problems in themselves. Rape culture is not the inevitable result of these social conditions. Conversely, it is not true that having better social conditions means rape culture naturally dies out. This is a dangerous notion to have, because it breeds complacency and retards the progression of gender equality.

Rape culture does not arise from income and education levels, but from attitudes and beliefs that privilege male gratification at the expense of the freedom and security of women. Such attitudes and beliefs can be found anywhere and in every country, in a shack in a shanty town, as on the top floor of a glittery skyscraper. While rightly feeling outrage at incidences of rape that occur anywhere in the world, we must remember to look towards home, and not ignore the hornets’ nest in our own backyard. [/two_third]


10 ways men can prevent gender-based violence

This is part of an article that originally appeared in Feminist Wire on May 15, 2013 – by Sacchi Patel



  1. Communicate. One of our largest problems is that we do not talk. No one is a mind-reader. If we talk with our partners, we can understand each other’s wishes, thoughts, and desires. Consent should never be assumed.
  2. Educate Yourself. There is lot of information on Domestic Violence that we ought to learn and understand. “1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime,” “1.3 million women are physically assaulted each year in the US,” and “every 2 minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted” are all undeniable statistics, and need acknowledgement and continuing press coverage.
  3. Contribute. We ought to give our time, thoughts, and even monetary donations to helping stop all forms of violence against women. Assistance is always needed, and there are many ways for us to get involved and support the cause.
  4. Support Victims/Survivors. We can be there for those who have been victimized by domestic violence or sexual assault. This might mean driving someone to the hospital, accompanying a victim to court or the police station, or even just sitting and listening to the survivor.
  5. Organize. As men, we can create or join a movement against DV.
  6. Act. Rather than watch abuse happen, we can take a more proactive role and become empowered bystanders. This means standing up, speaking out, intervening in potentially harmful situations, or alerting others for assistance. There is always something we can do.
  7. Choose Words Thoughtfully. We must understand the impact of our language and the words that we use. Using words like bitch, ho, and slut to describe women makes it easy for our whole society to view women as inferior.
  8. Talk with/listen to Women. Women have spoken out for decades, trying to spread awareness. It is time to have those conversations with women and learn their thoughts about living with threats of violence on a daily basis. We can also find out ways that we can support women best.
  9. Talk with Men. We can engage in dialogue with other men about how domestic violence has impacted their lives. We can explore feelings and the costs of being regarded as potential perpetrators of violence, while learning how to best support male-identifying survivors. Talking with other men will also allow a space to discuss ideas on how to challenge and stand up against domestic violence.
  10. Lead by Example. Never disregard, excuse, commit, or remain silent about any violence, and particularly that against women and girls. We can be role models for other men and boys in our communities. We can teach our children to be respectful and never abusive toward women. We can be good fathers and equal partners in our relationships.

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