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topic 1: Introduction to the Theme

Roisin Putti

Welcome to the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence with Nonviolence International New York!
 

New York is Nonviolence International New York is a volunteer and youth powered branch of Nonviolence International that advocates for nonviolent solutions in violent and oppressive situations.  It does so through civil society participation at the United Nations, partnerships with grassroots organizations and outreach on social media. 
 

One of the highlights of our social media calendar here at Nonviolence International New York is the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign.  This is an annual international campaign that begins on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until 10 December, Human Rights Day. The campaign is coordinated each year by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership. Organizations around the world calling for nonviolence, peace, and gender equality collaborate in this global project to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls. 
 

Nonviolence International New York contributes to the campaign by advancing the gender equality agenda from the perspective of humanitarian disarmament.  It is imperative that the global movement for peace incorporates the perspectives of women and girls, who highlight issues which might otherwise be insufficiently addressed.  One international instrument that is paving the way for the application of a gender-sensitive lens to be used in arms issues is the Arms Trade Treaty.  The theme for the fifth presidency of the ATT, which was held by Latvia, was gender and gender-based violence.

 

Last August, State Parties met in Geneva to discuss how their actions within the ATT can have a greater focus on gender equality.  Roisin Putti, research analyst at NVI-NY looked into the outcomes of the meeting and argues that gender quotas are an important element to secure equal gender representation at ATT conferences and beyond. Check out her blog post here!

topic 2: Sexual violence and intersectionality

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topic 3: History of the 16 Days of activism campaign

Carl Mackensen

16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence began in 1991, and runs every year between November 25th, The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and December 10th, Human Rights Day.  It was originally started by members of the Women’s Global Leadership Institute. The UN supports this yearly with their UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women campaign. The origination of the 16 Days movement started with the Montreal Massacre in 1989, which was a mass shooting at the École Polytechnique that resulted in the deaths of 14 women, and an additional 10 women and four men being injured.  This mass shooting was gender based violence, and led to the creation of the 16 Days of Activism program two years later.


Gender based violence is still a stark reality around the world.  Women and girls experience sexual and physical violence in times of war and peace.  The presence of a gun in the home dramatically increases the likelihood of gender based violence, abusers with access to firearms are up to five times more likely to kill their victims.  Every month, approximately 52 women are shot and killed by a domestic partner.  However, together we can do something about this.  Evidence has shown that stopping abusers’ access to guns by following federal and state laws and policies can save lives.  We can do more, however.  By calling on our elected officials to make it impossible for abusers to get access to guns, we can effect change.  The 16 Days campaign reminds us of the stark reality of gender based violence. Evidence based policies show us the way to prevent the deaths and abuse of women and girls around the world.  Together, by lifting our voice and advocating, we can bring change about. This is at the heart of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign.

Sexual Violence at the US-Mexico Border 

By Alexa Sabatini

 

It is no secret that migrants coming to the United States from Latin America face real and drastic violence on their asylum-seeking journeys. However, there is a lack of attention to the sexual violence that migrants, particularly women and children, have come to expect when preparing for their journey. Research from human rights organizations, including the International Rescue Committee, Doctors Without Borders, and the United Nations University have consistently raised alarm at the sexual violence rate for Latin American migrants. Criminal gangs, and even government agents, are known for sexual exploitation, forced prostitution, and human trafficking. Many women have reported that their primary concern is of kidnap and rape. The International Rescue Committee reported, “when asked where these risks are most likely to occur, two-thirds of respondents were most concerned about the time in transit followed by here in the border town (53%), then back home (41%), and lastly while presenting to US authorities at the U.S. border (37%)”. According to Amnesty International, 60-80% of migrant girls and women are raped while in transit. The potential risk is so high, that many women have started taking contraceptives before beginning their migration in order to avoid pregnancy as a result of rape. The trauma of sexual violence, especially without proper medical care, will create life long consequences for these women and children. 

Witness for Peace is an organization taking action to promote peace and nonviolence within the Americas. Their mission statement is “to support peace, justice and sustainable economies in the Americas by changing U.S. policies and corporate practices that contribute to poverty and oppression in Latin America and the Caribbean”. Witness for Peace has recognized the economic motivations of immigration and are working to draft an improved NAFTA that centers not around the wealthy, but on creating jobs to foster better economies. They have provided educational resources, as well as personal testimonies from migrant women who have experienced sexual violence. Better protection, accountability, and resources must be provided so that women can effectively escape the dangers they are facing, not encounter more. If you or a loved one has experienced sexual assault, there are resources for justice, including What’s Immigration Status Got to Do with It? Prosecution Strategies for Cases Involving Undocumented Victims. For additional resources, please visit, www.nsvrc.org.  

topic 5: Sexual violence in the household

Roisin
infograph
 
at The US-Mexico Border

topic 6: Sexual violence in armed conflict/ war zones

Carl

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SEXUAL VIOLENCE AND MENTAL HEALTH

By Carl Mackensen

Sexual assault has a complicated relationship with mental health.  First, sexual assault can lead to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), eating and sleeping disorders, suicidality, amongst other things.  Second, perpetrators also tend to target those with mental health challenges.  The stigma that people already face by virtue of having a mental health issue is hard enough to deal with on a day to day basis, let alone when sexual assault is layered on top of this.  There is a 50-59% percent chance that a woman will develop PTSD after being raped.  Childhood sexual abuse is strongly linked to worsened mental health

as an adult.  Trauma-related disorders related to sexual abuse are also much higher among poor women, with one study finding that 83% of women in the study had been physically or sexually abused during their lifetimes.  Lastly, the likelihood of experiencing violence as a homeless woman was found to be so high (97%) that it was seen to be simply the norm.ate health-care services.” [4] Adequate health services include care related to reproductive rights and family planning. Unfortunately, the access to health services has not improved as much as projected. There is cause for hope.  First, prevention of sexual assault through public education campaigns about consent can make a real difference.  Second, reducing the stigma associated with both mental health issues and sexual assault greatly ameliorates subsequent treatment.  Lastly, there are devoted organizations that deal with sexual assault, and the earlier that intervention takes place, the better are the prospects of recovery.  With prevention, lessening stigma, and treatment, we can make a difference. Some of the organizations that work exclusively on this issue are the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.  Contact information can be found below.

So what can we do?  If you have experienced trauma, seek help.  Relatedly, we can work to lessen the stigma of mental health issues, whether occurring before or after trauma, and their treatments.  There is good work being done on this, but we can all pitch in as citizens and by having difficult conversations with our family, friends, neighbors, and community members about both mental health, and sexual violence.  Specifically, we can lessen the stigma associated with mental health and sexual violence by listening compassionately to survivors, and offering them a forum in which to tell their stories.  For those with mental illness, listening to their life experiences also proves a great resource on the road to recovery.

 Another tangible thing we can do is to speak with elected representatives and educators about including mandatory consent education in basic sexual education.  This would aid prevention.  Lastly, we can attempt to forge a ‘positive peace’ environment, by focusing attention on the poorest among us, as they disproportionately face the largest threat of trauma.  Together, we can make a difference.

topic 8: Sexual violence against sex workers

Roisin
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topic 9:Sexual Violence Against Transgender People

 

Carl Mackensen

Transgender people represent one of the most vulnerable communities.  Here are some of the facts: 26% of transgender people reported being physically assualted and 10% report being sexually assualted. Transgender women were 1.6 times more likely to experience physical violence as well as to experience sexual violence, and 1.4 times more likely to experience hate violence in public places.  40% of trans people have attempted suicide in their lifetimes - nine times the average.  These are facts and figures pose a jarring way to introduce a debate about sexual violence against transgender people.  However, they are important to keep in mind. What was also found was that when a full transition has been made, and gender identities have been fully supported, the mental health of transgendered was comparable to anyone else.  It is argued that with public education, policy change, and community efforts we can ameliorate violence against transgender people. 

What can we do?  There is an organization called the Trevor Project that deals specifically with LGBTQ members, and helps them through every aspect of what they’re dealing with.  Focused primarily on talking people through crises, this organization also offers peer to peer networks of people who have gone through similar experiences. They can talk people through it, and describe practical steps, and help people to understand that it truly does get better.

 

If interested in being an ally for transgender people, visit OutRight Action International, a great organization with many resources available for those who want to help.  This can be done in conjunction with public education, and reaching out to people to hear their stories in a loving, compassionate, and understanding seeking way. Reaching out to elected representatives is also a great tool, and doing all possible to better understand that transgender people are like anyone else - simply trying to live their lives, and be themselves.  The figures that open this piece are indeed jarring. Together, we can do something about them.

topic 10: Rape Culture on University Campuses

Alexa Sabatini

University campuses are infamous for their rates of sexual assault and violence towards students. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, one in five women will experience sexual assault while in college. Sexual assault of any kind can have serious effects on survivors, particularly for college students, that includes both health and academic consequences. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), sexual violence is “all encompassing” and centered around consent. RAINN asserts that sexual assault is never the victim’s fault. Reports of sexual violence have increased among colleges and universities, drawing nationwide attention.

 

 RISE is a social movement founded by Amanda Nguyen in 2014 that is working toward implementing a Survivor’s Bill of Rights and federal protections for victims of sexual assault in all fifty states. Outlined in the Survivor’s Bill of Rights, victims are entitled to equality under the law, the right to rape kit procedures and notification, the right to survivor’s advocacy, the right to terminate all legal ties with the assailant, and the guarantee of rights regardless if an attack was reported to law enforcement. What’s more, RISE has proposed a UN Resolution, asserting that sexual violence is an international epidemic that must be addressed. The resolution shares some of the same rights as the state-to-state bills, but includes the right to education after an assault, the right to report an attack and obtain medical evidence with no cost to the survivor, and a report by the UN Secretary General on the rights of survivors. Since its founding, RISE has passed over twenty-seven laws, benefitting seventy million people, and trained over two-hundred community organizers. RISE inspires others to take action, uphold democracy, and create change. 

 

Therefore, it is important to know and understand the resources available to survivors. We encourage you to tweet or call your Congressmen (https://www.house.gov/representatives) and encourage them to support the HALT Act to protect survivors and prevent sexual assault on campuses. 

For additional resources and to learn about the EROC’s work, visit, https://endrapeoncampus.org/.  

topic 12: Sexual Violence in Sports

Brittany

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Sexual violence in prisons

05/14/18 - Njomeza

The general dissatisfaction towards the Beijing Declaration stems from its established goals for healthcare. The Declaration states that “health problems and injuries are preventable through improved access to adequate health-care services.” [4] Adequate health services include care related to reproductive rights and family planning. Unfortunately, the access to health services has not improved as much as projected.

topic 14: Sexual violence in the entertainment industry

christine

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Starting at Home: Ending GBV in NYC

05/14/18 - Alison

The normalization of sexual violence, domestic violence and the entire spectrum of harm-inducing acts laid upon women is a symptom of a systemic problem, one deeply rooted in gender and power inequality. Gender-based violence (GBV) is a mechanism for the subjugation of women, and it’s one that rears its ugly head in a myriad of ways;: from the naturalization of rape culture and sexual harassment to reproductive coercion, sexual slavery and female infanticide. These issues, though broad-reaching, are integrated and indivisible from one another as they all stem from—and help perpetuate—abusive patriarchal systems, both cultural and institutionalized. These systems are pandemic and exist in all sizes and shapes around the world, with women and girls subjected to the local flavor of abuse at the hands of those in power.

topic 16: Sonya’s House promotion day (trailer)

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Ex: Project within  the Campaign

05/14/18 - Peter Gandal

The general dissatisfaction towards the Beijing Declaration stems from its established goals for healthcare. The Declaration states that “health problems and injuries are preventable through improved access to adequate health-care services.” [4] Adequate health services include care related to reproductive rights and family planning. Unfortunately, the access to health services has not improved as much as projected.