All posts filed under: Gender-based Violence

Enjoy Sexual Assault for it to be a Crime

Absurd though it may sound, for a sexual assault to be charged as such the perpetrator of the crime must gain sexual pleasure from the victim by doing so. Or so was the logic behind Judge Anuar Gonzales who, on March 28th, exonerated Diego Cruz for the crime of pederasty and, as understood in the sentence, even sexual assault. Cruz is one of the five men labeled by Mexican society and media as “Los Porkys,” who, on January 2015 in the state of Veracruz, sexually assaulted Daphne Fernández. She was a minor at the time. Seeing that the criminal system was getting nowhere with the case, Javier Fernández, Daphne’s father, approached these men and recorded their confession. In the tape, they acknowledge their crime and asked for  forgiveness, promising they would not do it again. But, to the Mexican judiciary, the confession was not evidence enough. Over a year later, Judge González Hemadi acquitted Cruz in a writ of Amparo. In the latter, he stated that “there was not enough evidence on [Cruz’] participation in the …

The FGM Conversation has to Change

It’s been roughly 100 days since 2017 began. Reflecting on the past year’s campaigns against FGM and early marriages, it is true that all who are involved have come a long way. There have been moments where the campaign may have faltered and made missteps – but we’ve also seen some significant progress. However, in the course of writing and campaigning, as well as visiting various communities across the country where FGM is practiced, I can attest that activists are increasingly encountering subtle resistance. A revisionist movement is slowly but surely pushing back, challenging some of reasons advanced in campaigns against FGM as well as approaches that do not seem not to fit with their local context. As such, the conversation at the global and national level is not making much needed impact at the community level. How is this possible, given the resources that are being channeled and renewed vigor among activists? To illustrate this, sometime in 2016 during a Rugby 7s event dubbed #EndFGMmaasai in Kajiado, Kenya, a group of elite young men …

How Music and Theatre are Educating Young People in Uganda

Last Wednesday (March 8) marked International Women’s Day. The energy and effort within the women’s rights movement has clearly not slowed down from 2016. Events like the Women’s March on Washington (and the ripple effect that that has caused worldwide) as well as the consequent A Day Without a Woman campaign have showcased the creativity and inspiration that emerges when women come together to express their views on what they believe to be right and just. Girl Up Initiative Uganda (GUIU) has been working to set the stage in Uganda for spreading messages on sexual and reproductive rights and health (SRHR) and gender-based violence (GBV) through creative means – music, dance, and drama. The initiative proves that the performing arts are an effective medium of ‘edutainment’ – challenging gender norms and creating spaces to discuss sensitive topics. As a community-centered organization, it made sense for GUIU to partner with Plan International Uganda for a youth-focused program called Ni-Yetu (translating to It Is Ours in Swahili) – operating in five districts of Uganda. In Kampala, Ni-Yetu has introduced two activities to spread messages on SRHR …

How Martial Arts Helped Me Get Back on My Feet

Content note: this post contains depictions of physical assault  After being attacked on my way home, I decided to start training in martial arts. I wanted to become stronger both physically and mentally, and eventually, I found my way to the Korean martial art of taekwondo. Today, the mental tools taekwondo has given me help me out in all areas of life. In my twenties, I was attacked on my way home after a late shift at work. A man followed me and forced his way into the building where I lived. Luckily, he didn’t have a weapon, and I managed to get out of his grip and scream for help. Even though he ran off when he heard people approaching, I was deeply shaken. What if there wouldn’t have been anyone around? I felt so helpless. The man who had attacked me wasn’t big – around my height. But when he grabbed me, it was like one of those nightmares where your muscles stop working. I was paralyzed by the thought that he might …

He Broke Her Face – But Kept Playing

When the 2014 World Cup finished, I wrote an article for an online youth outlet in the UK calling on men to stop asking women “But how come you love soccer, you’re a girl?” Not only is this attitude outdated, but it is also completely true that women love, watch and play sports as much as men, including those sports traditionally seen as ‘masculine’ – soccer included. The rather more worrying trend I emphasized though was what emerged since the football tournament in South Africa in 2010 – namely, domestic violence increases significantly during major sporting events and the usual victims tend to be intimate partners: wives and girlfriends. In England, after game losses of the national team, domestic violence tends to increase by up to 25%, the National Centre for Domestic Violence has found out. This may be a direct result of high levels of viewers’ engagement and passion for the game, but may also be due to drinking and betting. Multiple campaigns have so far focused on this issue but sporadic TV ads …

“Speaking the Unspeakable”: Sexual Violence in Conflict

Their suffering and desperation was so great that they begged them to kill them, to end their pain once and for all… but the men who had been raping them replied, “No, we’re going to leave you alive so you can die of sadness.” This is the harrowing story told in the documentary “The Uncondemned” of the first time genocide, rape and sexual violence were prosecuted in an international tribunal. But this isn’t just a story of sadness and grief; it’s also a story of hope and healing. It is a story about the three brave survivors and witnesses who testified at the tribunal, identified then only as JJ, NN and OO. Co-director Michele Mitchell said: “In the face of enormous tragedy and pain, the fact that three of them were laughing about the plane journey shows their great resilience and demonstrates how they had kept their humanity.” I was privileged to watch this amazing documentary when it was screening in New York City. I left the theater with a heavy heart, but also feeling extremely encouraged and …

Brazil’s Problem: Violence Against Women

The movement #NiUnaMenos started in Argentina, but its message and impact has crossed the borders of the country and is now the voice of all Latin America protesting violence against women. On November 25th, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women established by the United Nations, women marched in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and other cities against the epidemic indexes of violence against women in Brazil. In a video of the protests in Rio shared on Facebook by Hermanas, a page dedicated to bridge Brazilian feminism to that of the rest of Latin America, women were singing, “violence against women is not the world that we want.” Data shows just how serious the reality of femicides and violence against women is in Brazil: According to the UN, Brazil has the 5th highest index of femicides in the world. According to PRI, “the number of women killed in homicides in Brazil keeps on increasing” (see Graphic 1 below). Also according to PRI, this number is higher among black women (see Graphic 2 below), …

Getting the Story Right About Violence Against Women

The need for data-driven storytelling is bigger than ever. With the growth of social media, where stories can go viral any second, it is crucial that we tell the stories right – to change perspectives, challenge the roots of patriarchy, create movements of positive change around the world, and ultimately to end violence against women. Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women – a day to highlight the importance to fight violence and discrimination that so many women are subjected to on a daily basis around the world. The United Nations defines violence against women as, any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life. When a President is elected, despite the fact that he has said that powerful men can “grab women by the pussy” or when a Swedish male politician calls a female minister “whore” in …

Community Heroes Drive Progress to End Violence Against Women

Blog Post written by Global Fund for Women and Rifka Annisa Global Fund for Women grantee partner, Rifka Annisa, a domestic violence shelter in Indonesia supported by Johnson & Johnson, works to empower women and communities to eliminate gender-based violence. Rifka Annisa works at all levels, providing counseling to male perpetrators, educating the community and training groups of women to address gender-based violence locally, and advocating for new laws and pushing for legal enforcement. Rini Iswandari leads the of Forum for Handling Victims of Violence in Bleberan Village, Gunungkidul, Yogyakarta. Johnson & Johnson partners with the Global Fund for Women to support 5 grassroots organizations like Rifka Annisa in Indonesia and the Philippines to provide services to victims of gender-based violence. This is the last of 3 blog posts spotlighting how collective, community-oriented action is needed to end violence against women around the world.  How are you working to end violence against women or care for survivors of violence in your community? What do your programs to end violence against women in your community look like? Every human …