BY ANNIE BOGGS & REBECCA KATHERINE HIRSCH
Did you catch “Women, War and Peace” last night on PBS? The five-part documentary series aired its first episode, Bosnia: I Came To Testify, and it’s certainly not to be missed (the episode will soon be posted online).
Think women and war zones don’t mix? The sentimental notion that women are uninvolved peacekeepers only in the “masculine” domain of war is shattered in the series. In today’s war landscape, women have actually become “primary targets and are suffering unprecedented casualties” in many countries.
The series spotlights female bellicosity and passivity in conflict zones in Africa, South America, the Middle East and the Balkans. Some of the powerful ladies shown in the series are also becoming leaders in governing conflict.
One episode features Leymah Gbowee who recently won the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, alongside President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia and Tawakkul Karman of Yemen (all for their admirable activism work in advancing peace and gender equality — yeah!).
The series continues every Tuesday night until November 8. Narrators Matt Damon, Tilda Swinton, Geena Davis and Alfre Woodard all add some star power to the series.
Find out more on the show’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Next week’s episode is “Pray the Devil Back to Hell”, the story of Liberian women who powerfully stood up against their country’s warlords, so don’t miss it!
As you know may already know, in recent months, there have been more than a dozen instances of sexual assault and harrassment in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Park Slope, Greenwood Heights, Windsor Terrace, Sunset Park and Bay Ridge. In response to the growing concern for public safety, we worked with Public Advocate Bill deBlasio‘s office in conjunction with Center for Anti-Violence Education, Safe Slope, Girls for Gender Equity, and RightRides, to produce a new guide with tips and resources to help prevent and intervene in sexual assault and harassment.Volunteers from the Public Advocate’s office are teaming up to distribute 3,000 copies of the guide in the area. If you’d like to volunteer, email [email protected]
We are grateful to the Public Advocate’s office for their leadership on this project, and even if you’re not located in the NYC area, we hope you’ll take a look and considering adopting it for use in your own community.
UPDATE! The guide is now in Spanish, too:
Haciendo Nuestros Vecindarios Más Seguros: Cómo Puede Ayudar a Prevenir el Asalto y Acoso Sexual Público
BY EMILY MAY
Last week 6,300 of you rallied and signed a petition on Change.org for the NYPD to have increased sensitivity surrounding the South Brooklyn sexual assault cases, and today we are proud to announce the NYPD listened.
On Thursday, October 8th – only a week after the petition began – the commanding officers of the NYPD’s 72nd and 78th Precincts held a meeting with members of Hollaback! and Safe Slope, convened by New York City Councilmember Brad Lander, to directly address Safe Slope’s open letter to the NYPD and the 6,300 people (that’s you!) who signed the petition demanding increased sensitivity. As a result of that meeting, we are proud to announce the NYPD has agreed to following improvements:
Clearly, there is still work to be done. But we couldn’t have made it this far without your support.
In addition to your efforts, our heartfelt thanks go to Safe Slope, The Line Campaign, Permanent Wave, the organizers of SlutWalk NYC, and Women in the Media and News for organizing with us to make the petition happen, and Councilmember Lander for setting up the meeting with the NYPD. Shelby Knox, Director of Community Organizing for Women’s Rights at Change.org said, “the coalition of activists that made this happen should be commended for using people power, online and offline, to improve police sensitivity surrounding sexual assault cases. Their work will serve as a blueprint on how residents can respectfully petition the NYPD — and it is my belief that the impact of their efforts will live on long after the South Brooklyn rapist has been caught.”
Keep using your voice to change the world, and remember to always…
A year ago I went on vacation with my dad to Las Vegas, it was the first vacation I’ve had ever since I was a 6, (16 when this happened) and was even able to go with my dad whose job has him all over the world much of the time. So I was trying very hard to make this a good experience for me, one which I would look back fondly on for years. This guy ruined the whole post-harassment part of the vacation for me.
So my dad and I were at the Excalibur Hotel/Casino on the Vegas Strip, we were heading out of the building after a show to go back to our hotel to get dinner and sleep. My dad had to use the bathroom, so I just sat down on the steps by the bathroom, and waited. I was next to the slot machines, and I noticed a man staring at me from there. He was likely in his 40s or 50s, and was balding with gray hair. A bit nervous, I pulled out my phone and tried to look busy. I heard “Hey.” and looked up to see him right above me. It was hard to understand him through his thick accent, but I’ll never forget my heart dropping into my stomach when he said: “You have… very beautiful legs. They’d sure look nice wrapped around me.” (I was wearing jeans and boots, not a skirt or anything revealing.) Luckily, I didn’t need to think about what to do, because my dad came out of the bathroom right after. My dad said “What’s going on? Who’re you?” to him. The man was obviously shaken by the sudden appearance of my 6″1′ tall, 225 lb dad. He said “I wasn’t doin’ nothin’.” and backed off. As we left my dad shot him the most threatening look he could. I remember just getting to our room in the MGM Grand hotel and crying my eyes out, my dad was furious that this was able to happen. I had never experienced anything like this in my hometown, I mean I’ve had catcalls coming from men in cars when I was on the sidewalk here, but I never felt truly threatened. I was genuinely afraid that somehow this man would get into our room and rape me. It was sort of a wake-up call that I’m not as safe in public as I thought. We made a point to never separate for the rest of the vacation, and I’ve been so much more cautious ever since.
Every time this happens to me, I wish I did something different. I was walking home alone at 1am in a nice residential part of the city in a zipped hooded sweatshirt and corduroys, no skin showing by my face. I hear the slowing of a car coming up behind me and I feel this immediate sinking feeling, thinking oh god, here we go. A man in the car rolls his window down as he pulls up next to me, I continue to walk staring straight ahead, hoping he’s stopping for any other reason than to cat call me. “Hey, want a ride?” And immediately, I said “No”, continuing to walk and stare ahead of me. “Really?” I started to seethe. “YEAH, REALLY.” The man scoffs and says, “WOW” and drives away. I flipped him off as he drove away, wishing I had brought my can of pepper spray. It’s an abomination that this happens to women every day in the U.S., the constant degradation of women that is ignored as being harmless. And I wish I could say this were the first (or last time) this happened to me.
BY: ALEX ALSTON
Wayne Simmonds was the victim of a racially charged display one week before when a fan chunked a banana in front of him during a Philadelphia Flyers exhibition game in London, Ontario. On September 24th, however, he found no problem with calling Sean Avery, an outspoken advocate for the LGBTQ community, and forward of the New York Rangers, a “f*cking f*gg*t.” According to Simmonds, his actions were the result of a sucker punch Avery hit him with earlier in the game. Whatever his reasons, Simmonds was wrong. In this day and age of the camera constantly being in every athlete’s mouth, to even “slip up” and say something like this a perpetuation and a promotion of the homophobia that runs rampant in our culture and so blatantly and consistently ends in the deaths of young people across the country. The NHL would do well to react swiftly and decisively because a lack of a response in this case should be understood as nothing less than an endorsement of this type of behavior. We all remember Kobe’s $100,000 fine, so my eyes are fixed on the NHL. What kind of league do they want to be? One that fosters hate speech and homophobia or one that promotes tolerance and equality? Of course they can’t control what every individual player says, but they can set standards that make it clear that bigotry will not be tolerated. Unfortunately, it does not appear as if they plan to enact any repercussions on Simmonds, without any prodding at least. I encourage you all to prod, and to join the 50,000+ other people who have signed the petition to fine Wayne Simmonds for his homophobic slur against Sean Avery. You can read and sign it here.
I had been sitting on a bench reading. I was in full sun and was getting rather hot, so I decided to head back to my dorm. As I got up and started walking along the path, I noticed a man coming towards me in the opposite direction. I didn’t take too much notice of him. Until the moment when I directly past him and noticed he had his penis and balls out of his pants, rubbing one out looking at me as he walked past. It all happened so quickly, I was already past him before I realized exactly what had happened. I suddenly became conscious of how short my shorts were and how a little bit of my mid-drift could be seen. But I told myself that shouldn’t matter. That guy was a pig-headed creep, getting off on girls in a public park. If I had been still sitting, and my experience more prolonged, I would like to think I would have called him out, brought attention to what he was doing in hopes that would shame him into stopping. But seeing as this is my first encounter with street harassment, maybe I wouldn’t have been that gutsy. But it is because of organizations like Hollaback! that I am gaining confidence. After I left the park, I found I was really angry and almost wanted him to come back and try again so I could scream in his face. And because of Hollaback! I know that that anger is justified. Thank you for empowering women to stand up to street harassment and for providing a forum for women to share their stories.
BY ANNIE BOGGS
Is there a way to reduce violence in communities without traditional police intervention? What about through disease-control methods? Enter CeaseFire, an awesome Chicago-based organization.
CeaseFire curbs violence through an on-the-ground approach by using professionals from the actual communities to intervene in crises and mediate conflicts. They make use of a public health-inspired model:
1. Identification & detection
2. Interruption, Intervention, & risk reduction
3. Changing behavior and norms
They are working, overall, to change how we think about violence and overturn the conventional “prosecution over prevention” approach. They aim to find a solution to the epidemic of violence in other ways than incarceration.
This method isn’t just confined to CeaseFire, however. You can also be an “interruptor” in your own life, as shown in this great article. Interrupting racist or sexist discourse, and of course, street harassment, is one big way to cause change in your own community. The ‘I’ve Got Your Back’ campaign is one big way Hollaback! is working on bystander prevention.
Overall, CeaseFire is employing a refreshing approach to a seemingly unstoppable problem. Like Hollaback!, theirs is a grassroots movement that really takes the local community into account. Go CeaseFire!
We just wanted to highlight the work of two amazing college-based initiatives – Freeze the Tease and Chappal Maarungi – in the Mumbai-wide and global fight to end street harassment.
Freeze the Tease is the brainchild of six students at St. Andrew’s College – Perma Dsouza, Andrea Fernades, Digi George, Anishka Alvares, Rochelle Barrie and Valeska Reveredo. The initiative began as a response to a class assignment and has solidified into a dynamic, awareness-raising campaign. Their campaign has involved encouraging women to sign a pledge saying that they will not be silent in the face of street harassment and wearing bands that say ‘I pledge to freeze the tease.’ They have also organized outdoor activities, such as a recent outing where they distributed ‘Freeze the Tease’ bands in Bandra and other public spaces. Check out their Facebook page here. Amazing stuff!
Similarly, Chappal Maarungi was started in response to a class assignment at Wilson College and has taken on a life of its own. Their Facebook page states “Chappal Maarungi” as a campaign is not directed towards men, asking them to stop cat calling and eve teasing. Instead, as the name itself suggests, is directed towards women: asking them to raise their voices against inappropriate behavior. The “chappal” here is symbolic for women raising their voices and not necessarily their footwear (unless of course, they need to!)”
Amazing stuff! Their angle is that when women are empowered to take a stand against harassment, men will learn that harassment of any kind in any arena is entirely unacceptable. The group has created a 5-foot tall chappal and placed boxes of chappals around their college campus as an encouragement to women to step up (no pun intended : ) Check out their Facebook page here!
Awesome stuff! So good to see other campaigns working to end street harassment in Mumbai. Together we shall overcome.