Empower. Prevent. Protect.
Together, For Girls 50 Heroes Ending Sexual Violence How Tanzania Tackles Abuse 7 Things Girls Need to Stay Safe
Kiss and Tell:
The Protective Power of Disclosure
Kayla Harrison Olympic Gold Medalist
In partnership with:
FEATURES 30 A Golden Opportunity: Judo star Kayla Harrison overcomes sexual abuse—and wins the Olympic Gold. By Regan Hofmann.
Editor-in-Chief: Regan Hofmann
44 Together, for Girls: 50 heroes working to end sexual violence against children.
Art Director: Susie Henkel
58 Girl Power: Michele Moloney-Kitts, director of Together for Girls, stands for a world where all children are safe from harm.
Contributing Writers: Hiram Martinez-Cabrera, Joya Taft-Dick
64 Tanzania Takes Charge: Anna Maembe, Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Tanzanian government, shares how her nation fights violence against children. 70 Here Comes the Sun: Geeta Rao Gupta, UNICEF’s Deputy Executive Director of Programmes, on how day lighting incidents of violence helps stop them.
Photographers: Charlotte Raymond, Sandie Taylor, Bill Wadman Together for Girls Director: Michele Moloney-Kitts Senior Communications and Business Development Officer: Sandie Taylor
photo © 2013 Charlotte Raymond
Copy Editor: Courtney Sheinmel
Communications and Youth Advocacy Officer/Global Health Corp Fellow: Joya Taft-Dick Program and Policy Officer / Global Health Corp Fellow: Kudakwashe Dube The authors’ views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of Together for Girls’ partners.
DEPARTMENTS 5 Letter from the Editor 6 A Pandemic of Sexual Violence: Statistics from five nations tell the tale.
Together for Girls Social Media Togetherforgirls.org email@example.com
8 Pivotal Moments: 13 signs the world is primed to end sexual violence.
16 Teach Your Children Well: Judith Bruce, a global advocate for girls, suggests seven tools girls should have in their self-protection toolkits.
14 Girls Talk: Young women weigh in on the threats they feel and how they face them.
18 D efensive Dialing: 7 mobile phone apps that connect users to safety networks and crisis support. 20 In Case of Emergency: 4 things women and girls can do in the aftermath of sexual violence. 22 Let’s Hear It for the Boys: The importance of engaging men & boys in solutions to end sexual violence. By Joya Taft-Dick. 26 K iss and Tell: Hiram Martinez-Cabrera shares his testimony of surviving and rising above sexual abuse. 36 A Girl at Heart: Charlotte Raymond’s photographs of girls around the world. 74 Safety Net: Ways you can engage in the fight against sexual violence.
Cover photo ©2013 Bill Wadman billwadman.com
78 Final Words by Susan Bissell, UNICEF’s Chief of Child Protection, Programme Division. togetherforgirls.org 3
Letter from the Editor There’s a common element among many bad things: they often happen behind the twin veils of silence and darkness. Conversely, they can be stopped when a spotlight is shone on them—and people begin to talk about them.
players. More than just making noise, these public reactions led to action: new laws to better protect Indian women were passed and high school sports coaches are now being trained to help prevent gender-based violence.
That’s why Together for Girls—a global public-private partnership dedicated to stopping violence against children— supported the launch of this magazine—to both illuminate that there is a pandemic of violence against children, and to amplify the global conversation about what can be done to stop it. This first issue is dedicated to one aspect of the problem: sexual violence.
More cases of sexual violence are being reported—and reported on. The global media is awake to the issue and many of the governments around the world are tuning in. Ever larger throngs of people are publicly supporting survivors and demonstrating for their protection and justice. The number of prosecutions is on the rise. Outdated laws and societal norms are beginning to be questioned—and changed.
The scale of violence around the world is staggering. An estimated one billion children endure some type of abuse (including sexual) each year. That figure dwarfs almost all other pandemics, of all kinds, current and past. In terms of sexual violence specifically, one in three women in the world experiences it. As do one in six men. And because of people’s reticence to report sexual violence, as high as those numbers are, they fall short of the reality. Which is why the Together for Girls partnership is collecting a wealth of new data, specific to communities and countries. By defining the precise nature of the problem, such data helps identify what can be done to stop the horror. A very important fact is that the principal perpetrators of sexual violence against children are often people children should be able to trust. People like their parents, relatives, neighbors, teachers and faith leaders. Ironically, the very people and places that should protect them are often at the root of the problem. While boys are absolutely impacted, girls are especially vulnerable in some communities. They endure genital mutilation and cutting, are forced into child marriages, and are sold into sex trafficking or slavery. They are preyed on by peers and raped in war as well as while traveling to and from school. In addition to being threatened by people and circumstances that should be safe in their everyday worlds, the risk of experiencing sexual violence increases when children find themselves in conflict zones, in refugee camps, without food or shelter, disabled or orphaned. The good news is the Zeitgeist is primed to stop sexual violence against children. A world that has long been too silent on the issue is finding its voice. Two recent examples include the global outcry in the aftermath of the young Indian woman gang raped on a bus who subsequently died of injuries from the attack and the unbridled outrage by tens of thousands in response to the rape of the young woman in Steubenville, Ohio by two football
Solutions are being found. Which is why our premier issue of Safe focuses on some of the most effective ways to halt sexual violence against children. In this issue, you’ll meet 50 of the most courageous, dedicated people working to remedy the problem. Their work sets the gold standard for how to protect and empower children. Speaking of gold, you’ll also meet Kayla Harrison, who overcame the sexual onslaught of her first coach to be the first American to win the Olympic Gold in Judo. And, children themselves share the greatest threats to their safety and what they feel they can do about them—and what others can do to help them stay safe. Being safe. It’s a reasonable expectation for every child. And because children who witness or experience violence are more likely to grow up and experience further violence or to become perpetrators of violence themselves, protecting those who are children today is one of the best ways to assure the future health and peace of the world. November 25 is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. It kicks off 16 days of activism intended to galvanize a response to abuse. We hope you will join us at our Google+ Hangout on at 12 p.m. EST on December 4 to discover how you can be part of the solution. To stay connected, join our Google+ group, follow us @together4girls and like us on facebook.com/togetherforgirls. Together, we have the power to make the violence against children stop. And we should exercise that power. Because, as Michele Moloney-Kitts of Together for Girls says, “A world in which our children are safe is a world in which we all want to live.”
Regan Hofmann Editor-in-Chief togetherforgirls.org 5
A Pandemic of Sexual Violence Surveys from 5 Nations Show Staggering Stats
New data gathered through the Violence Against Children Surveys by the Together for Girls partnership shows high levels of sexual violence against children and adolescents around the world. The data highlights the related challenges sexual violence leaves in its wake, from illness to unintended pregnancies to mental health challenges. The data is being leveraged to compel national leaders to develop effective, country-led action plans. Measuring and tracking the scope of sexual violence against children is step one in putting an end to it.
6 Safe. Issue I
artwork by Stephanie Wolf
l a t o Piv Moments 13 signs the global discourse on sexual violence is beginning to crescendo—and be heard. Increasingly, the issue of sexual violence—one that has been on far too few lips for far too long—seems to be a hot topic of conversation around the world. Why is this happening? In part because more and more survivors of sexual abuse and/or their families are taking stands and openly talking about the injustice. Revealing a horror is always the first step towards galvanizing reactions capable of catalyzing change. Personal disclosures often trigger public responses. Indeed, large groups have responded to individual protests—be they girls forced into marriage in the Middle East; women and girls raped on public transportation in India, South Africa or South America; or girls abused at high school parties or women raped while serving in the military. And when the throngs come, in person, or via social media, the mass media notices. In turn, media coverage amplifies the outcries, sometimes so much that governments and lawmakers take note of the outrage. This is when disclosure and protest can lead to profound legal or societal change. There have been many powerful moments of late where bravery on the part of those affected led to positive solutions (certainly too many to list here). But to offer evidence that the Zeitgeist might be primed for more broadly resolving the issue of sexual violence, we highlight a handful of the most dramatic and impactful moments of the last year. Each moment was chosen for its imprint on the global consciousness about sexual violence and for the favorable outcomes that followed. While not all pertain to girls, those tied to women are capable of benefitting young girls today—and for days to come. 8 Safe. Issue I
1. February 14: V-Day launched “One Billion Rising.”
communities toward a rape-free climate, thus preventing future “Steubenvilles.” For more information, go to sparksummit.com.
Billed as a “global call for a world where women are free and safe and cherished and equal” by V-Day founder and awardwinning playwright Eve Ensler (of Vagina Monologues fame), this day of global action to end violence against women and girls comprised thousands of events in 207 countries. From a debate in the British Parliament to the formation of a human chain in Bangladesh to dancing in Kabul and Tripoli, “One Billion Rising” raised awareness and spurred governments to talk with women about the issue of violence. It garnered mega press and highlighted tangible solutions on a national scale, such as the push to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act in the U.S. Congress. To continue the taboo-smashing, go to vday.org.
4. April 18: The Indian Parliament passed a new law protecting women and girls from sexual violence.
2. March 7: The empowerment of young girls was celebrated in Girl Rising. Directed by Academy Award nominee Richard Robbins, Girl Rising is a documentary film exploring the lives of nine extraordinary girls from nine countries. The documentary directs a spotlight on the strength of the human spirit and the power of education to change a girl—and the world. It magnifies the power of higher education to help girls achieve the societal status and financial independence that are integrally linked to their safety and highlights the brave steps the girls took to speak out and fight against the many forms of violence in their lives. To learn more, including how to attend or host a screening, go to girlrising.com. 3. March 17: Trent Mays and Ma’Lik Richmond charged with rape in Steubenville. Two teenage football players in Steubenville, Ohio were convicted of the rape of a 16-year-old girl who was intoxicated and semi-conscious. They have been sentenced to at least a year in juvenile jail. Morning-after text messages and photos and videos posted on social media sites alerted the victim and her parents to the crime. Public horror turned to response when more than 65,000 people signed a petition created on change. org by Carmen Rios and Colby College football player Connor Clancy. The petition called for the National Federation of State High School Associations to partner with nationally recognized activist organizations to develop and integrate a course on sexual violence prevention for coaches as part of their annual accreditation. By teaching coaches—role models, mentors, thought leaders and sometimes perpetrators themselves—to foster a violence-free culture among their athletes in the locker room, on the playing fields, in school hallways and at weekend parties, the hope is that young, male athletes will lead their
The law criminalizes stalking, voyeurism and sexual harassment. It provides for the death penalty for repeat offenders or for rape attacks that lead to the victim’s death and makes it a crime for police to refuse to investigate cases of alleged sexual attacks. The watershed law passed, in part, as a result of the worldwide outcry over the fatal gang rape and beating of a young Indian female physiotherapist on a bus in New Delhi in December 2012. Despite the legislation, problems continue. On August 23, 2013, a 22-year-old photojournalist was gang raped by five men while her male colleague was tied up and beaten in an abandoned textile mill in Mumbai—a city that had been considered largely safe for Indian women. The more recent attack incited activists to push for even stricter laws—and their enforcement. On a related note, the Indian government’s refusal to criminalize marital rape is an especially pertinent issue given that 40 percent of the world’s child marriages occur in India. According to the UN Population Fund, more than 2/3 of married women in India, ages 15-49, have been beaten, raped or forced to provide sex. 5. April 20: SOUTH AFRICA HONORS THE MEMORY OF ANENE BOOYSEN WITH ANNOUNCEMENT TO BUILD YOUTH JOB-CREATION PROJECT IN BREDASDORP. Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande announced a ZAR 10 million construction skills development and jobcreation project in Bredasdorp, South Africa to help improve the quality of life for youth in the impoverished region that has historically experienced the highest levels of rape in the world. Citing poverty and unemployment as drivers of the violence, Nzimande said they had decided to honor Anene Booysen with the project. Seventeen-year-old Booysen had worked on a similar construction site building RDP (government subsidized) housing. After work on the evening of February 1, she visited a Bredasdorp nightclub. Several hours later, she was gang raped and mutilated between two newly-built RDP houses outside the club. She was found the next morning at the construction site where she worked. She died in the hospital later that day. Nzimande said to City Press, “Anene Booysen was actively contributing to ensuring a better life for herself and her family through working on that construction site.” Now, hopefully, new construction in her honor will help educate and provide youth with skills and attitudes that can help them rise above poverty—and such atrocious violence. togetherforgirls.org 9
6. May 27: Kenyan girls win lawsuit over sexual abuse. A determined band of young women living in the Tumaini Girls Rescue Centre in Meru, Kenya, who had all suffered rape (including some as young as three years old) won a decisive court victory against their own government for failing to protect them. Some, including an 11-year-old, had become pregnant. The Equality Effect, an international legal rights group protecting women, launched an African-Canadian partnership known as “160 Girls” that initiated the lawsuit in October 2012 against the Kenyan police, the country’s director of public prosecutions and the minister of justice, claiming they had neglected or omitted to investigate allegations of rape. Justice J.A. Makua decided that the girls’ rights—including their right to equal protection of the law, to personal security and to be free from cruel treatment—had indeed been violated and recognized the Kenyan police’s duty to conduct proper investigations in cases of sexual abuse. It is likely they will be quite busy if they comply given that it is reported a woman is raped in Kenya every 30 minutes. The Equality Effect is supporting similar claims in Ghana and Malawi and has been approached by groups in Uganda, Tanzania, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, which are also asking for legal assistance to initiate cases. 7. May 29: Big brand social media takes a stand against violence against women. On this day, Facebook formally restricted hate speech that glorifies violence against women. Though some would file this news byte in the “too little, too late” box, we’re putting it in the “better late than never” one. Their decision was a response to a social media campaign—launched by groups like Women, Action & the Media and The Everyday Sexism Project—that led to advertisers pulling ads from Facebook lest their ads run next to Facebook pages with such offensive titles as (according to the New York Times): “Violently Raping Your Friend Just for Laughs” or “Kicking Your Girlfriend in the Fanny Because She Won’t Make You A Sandwich.” Next up, we’d like to see some headway made against the issue of online child porn… 8. June 24: The United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 2106 addressing the rape of women and girls in conflict zones. Angelina Jolie—actress, activist and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Goodwill Ambassador—was one of many who called on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to better tackle sexual violence against women in war zones. In the aftermath of her powerful speech, building on the efforts of many, the 10 Safe. Issue I
15-member UN body unanimously approved Security Council Resolution 2106—a binding (member states are obligated to implement UNSC decisions) commitment to end conflictrelated sexual violence. The resolution emphasizes more consistent and vigorous investigation and prosecution of sexual violence crimes as a central aspect of deterrence and ultimately prevention. Additionally, the UN Commission on the Status of Women made a resolution for the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women. The two resolutions share common themes such as: improving the evidence base on sexual violence; strengthening the implementation of programs, policies and legal frameworks to prevent violence against women and girls; and addressing structural and underlying causes of violence against women and girls. To read the resolution, go to http://bit.ly/16zKjoM. 9. July 8: Video made by Nada al-Ahdal, an 11-year-old Yemeni girl protesting child marriage, went viral. “Does it make you happy to marry me off?! My mother, my family, believe me when I say: I’m done with you. You’ve ruined my dreams, all of them. I’m better off dead. I’d rather die.” These were just some of the words uttered by Nada al-Ahdal in a video posted online to protest her parents’ alleged attempts to marry her to an older man (her parents dispute her allegations). Al-Ahdal fled her parents and ended up in the custody of the Yemeni Women’s Union, a non-governmental organization that protects women’s rights. The issue of child marriage in Yemen first hit the international airwaves in 2008 when Nujood Ali, a 9-year-old girl forced into marriage, escaped her two-month marriage to a much older man, sought—and was granted—a divorce. The International Center for Research on Women conducted a study that revealed that 48.9 percent of Yemeni girls were married before the age of 18. The Gender Development Research and Studies Centre at Sanaa University says that 65 percent of Yemeni marriages between 2010-2012 involved children; in rural areas, the number was 70 percent. 10. July 22: UNICEF released major report “Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: A Statistical Overview and Exploration of the Dynamics of Change.” Drawing on data from more than 70 national surveys over a period of 20 years, this report is the most comprehensive compilation of statistics on genital mutilation ever. The release of the report followed the June 10 death of Suhair al-Bata, a 13-year-old Egyptian girl who died undergoing circumcision at a village in Cairo. Although female genital mutilation is illegal in Egypt, data shows that 91 percent of Egyptian girls have been cut—the majority by healthcare providers. Notable in UNICEF’s new report is data from all 29 countries in
1 7 2 6
ÂŠ UNHCR/J. Tanner
A picture of Daisy Coleman, posted with her essay on xoJane
Africa and the Middle East where FGM/C is concentrated, including never-before-captured data from Iraq. The report explores the role of social norms and expectations surrounding the practice, explaining phenomena like why even mothers vehemently against FGM/C endorse the cutting of their own daughters (answer? they believe they are protecting the girls by adhering to social norms). The report also reveals insights like the fact that while women may believe men in their communities think it is “normal” to administer FGM/C, many men stand against the practice. The capture of such contradictory beliefs illuminates the importance of communication between men and women about outdated practices. And, the fresh data enforces the need for action and assists in the development of effective response plans customized to the scale and scope of the issue in a given region or country. To read the report, go to unicef.org. 11. August 15: Jonathan Froudakis de Souza, Wallace Aparecido and Carlos Armando Costa dos Santos convicted of gang raping. An American woman was raped by the three Brazilian men aboard a public transit van in Rio de Janeiro’s seaside neighborhood of Copacabana. The men pummeled the woman’s face, breaking her nose and raping her repeatedly in front of her French male companion, who was bound and hammered with a metal bar as he was forced to watch her assault. According to the New York Times, the event, which happened in late March 2013, “shocked the nation and focused attention on a surge of reported rape cases in Brazil.” Indeed, this was hardly the only case. On August 15, the New York Times also reported that a 22-year-old Brazilian woman said she had been raped on the same bus by the same men a week prior to the American woman, on March 23. Though she had also reported her crime when it happened, the local police failed to respond until the American had been attacked. “The authorities still seem to be more concerned in dealing with the rape case of a foreigner instead of my own,” the Brazilian woman said in a phone interview with the New York Times. Her hearing, originally scheduled for July 24, was rescheduled to August 27. As we go to press, there is no indication of when a judge would rule. Here’s hoping when one does, she gets the same consideration as visitors to her motherland. 12. August 28: TWITTER OFFERS WAY TO REPORT ABUSE IN FACE OF RAPE THREATS. When Caroline Criado-Perez saw a news story that women would no longer be featured on British currency, she appealed to the Bank of England to reconsider that decision. Her campaign to maintain gender diversity on England’s bank notes caught the attention of more than those who print and oversee money. Her campaign was also noticed by a group of men who,
opposing her suggestion that women continue to be featured on pound (and other) notes, threatened her—via Twitter— with rape. The comments ranged from the specific (“everyone jump on the rape train > @CCriadoPerez is conductor”) to the explicit (“this Perez one just needs a good smashing up the arse and she’ll be fine” and “Wouldn’t mind tying this bitch to my stove. Hey sweetheart, give me a shout when you’re ready to be put in your place”). Advised by friends to ignore them and let the whole thing die down, the woman who had just gone nose-to-nose with the Bank of England decided, perhaps not surprisingly, to answer them. What started as a small stream of offensive threats turned into a rushing, pun unintentional, current, with Perez giving answers as fast as she received threats. Eventually, Perez found supporters who helped her take on the offensive men themselves as well as Twitter. One of Perez’s supporters put up a petition calling on Twitter to put a “report abuse” button on every tweet; the petition garnered more than 140K signatures. As a result, Twitter agreed to give users a way to report abuse. 13. October 18: Daisy Coleman posts her cri de couer blog about her rape in Maryville—drawing attention to her resolve to reopen the case—and her vow “not to be a victim of cruelty any longer.” The varsity cheerleader who was allegedly raped on January 8, 2012, then left at her parents’ doorstep in a T-shirt in the snow, posted her personal account of what she says happened to her at the hands of her male schoolmates on xojane.com. In the aftermath of the incident, her brother was bullied, her mother lost her job and their house burned to the ground. She withdrew from school and attempted suicide. The charges her family brought against her attacker—a high school football player whose family was politically connected in their state (Missouri)—were dropped despite forensic evidence of rape and a video of the incident on a cell phone. The group Anonymous, who helped defend the victims in the Steubenville case, has gotten involved. As we go to press, a special prosecutor is reviewing the case. To follow Coleman’s story, go to #justice4daisy on Twitter. These are but a few of the notable pivotal moments in the last year when individuals stood up to sexual violence themselves or when incidents of sexual abuse led others to respond in ways that made the world a safer place for many. Collectively, these, and other moments like them, seem to mark a new era of an eyes-and-mouths-wide-open response to sexual violence. If this trend continues, even greater headway can be made against the pandemic of sexual abuse. Because seeing, hearing and speaking about evil are the first critical steps towards ending it. togetherforgirls.org 13
Young women from around the world weigh in on what they fear—and what they have experienced—related to sexual violence. Their words define the scope of the issue, and offer some suggestions for positive change.
Girls Talk “I remember middle school was the absolute worst time for bullying, especially if you are involved in sports and everything. There is so much competition, everyone is changing…personalities are changing… relationships are ambiguous…and you’re trying to figure out who you are…It’s hard, but it does get better.” — Nicole, from the U.S. via the Girl Scouts
“Girls’ bodies are not ready for childbirth but we do not all know this, and our communities do not understand.” — A girl, aged 13-15, from India via The Girl Effect
“I am afraid to step out of the house in the streets alone because I have seen with my own eyes how boys are cat-calling young school girls. I currently go out in the presence of my father. Ideally, this behavior from boys needs to stop. There should be strict laws prohibiting boys from doing such acts. If these laws are not followed, there should be consequences for the offenders.” — Roeda, aged 14, from Pakistan via Teach for Pakistan “I hate FGM (female genital mutilation). It has caused many deaths. I even witnessed a girl in our area undergoing FGM, and she really bled…and died, so this is quite detrimental to our girls.” — A girl, aged 16-19, from, Kenya via The Girl Effect
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“In my whole life, I have never felt love.” — Mejgon, married at 11, from Afghanistan, via Too Young to Wed
“I was compelled to get married at the age of 15 and when I became afflicted with VVF (Vesico Vaginal Fistula), nobody looked after me in my compound. I was left alone to cater for myself and children. Our people are wicked. If you do not have someone behind you, nobody looks at your face.” — Esther, now 22, from Nigeria via Girls Not Brides
“Every boy should think of a girl like his own sister, then they wouldn’t commit crimes against her.” — A girl, aged 13-15 from India via The Girl Effect
“I feel threatened by the people on the way to school. We are scared of going to school from home alone. When we go to school in the morning, we feel unsafe. When there are few people in the lanes, we are afraid of the people standing there. The people include men of different ages who stare at us. We feel relatively safe when there are more people in the lanes, especially when familiar people are around us.” — Sadia, aged 16, from Pakistan via Teach for Pakistan
“Every day we experience war; there is enormous instability. The conflict explains why we experience so many attacks, and girls are raped so frequently.” — A girl, aged 16-19 from the Democratic Republic of the Congo via the Girl Effect
“Even if the girl is not at fault, she still gets the blame.” — A girl, aged 16-19 from India via The Girl Effect
“Our environment is not suitable for girls to step out alone, A girl in my village was going to school and a gang of boys kidnapped her. It was even more disturbing when she was found. People in our society talked ill about the girl saying that had she been careful, no one would have touched her. This led to many parents taking their daughters out of school. It is unfortunate. Only illiterate people do such things. I avoid going to vulnerable places alone. We should not blame a girl or stop her from going to school if something happens to her. We should instead focus on fixing the community. We should provide awareness to people, telling them there are girls in all houses and we need to respect girls. Everyone should be more empathetic.” — Rimsha, aged 14, from Pakistan via Teach for Pakistan
“I was given to my husband when I was little and I don’t even remember when I was given because I was so little. It’s my husband who brought me up.” — Kanas, aged 18 at the time of the interview, from Ethiopia via Too Young to Wed
“I want to be able to stand on my own two feet (not to be dependent). Please let me be home for some years before marrying me off.” — A girl, aged 16-19, from India via the Girl Effect
“Being a survivor of assault, I know the depths of depression, pain, heartache, shame and self-loathing. The embarrassment and self-hate. With the love from my friends and family, I am here…standing…” — Akira, from the U.S. via V-Girls
For more on the organizations referenced here: girleffect.org; girlsnotbrides.org; girlscouts.org; v-girls.ning.com; & tooyoungtowed.org togetherforgirls.org 15
Teach Your Children Well Judith Bruce, a global advocate for girls, highlights seven key things they need to stay safe. Ideally, girls would never find themselves at risk for sexual violence. And there is much that adults can do to ensure their safety. But it also helps to empower girls themselves. One place to start is by making girls aware of the risks they may face and encouraging them to speak up and get help if they feel threatened or experience sexual violence. Using ageappropriate messages, tell them abuse does happen and that if it happens to them, they should neither be ashamed nor afraid to talk about it—instead, they should report it immediately to family members, friends or trusted authorities. It is also helpful to ensure that girls have access to the information, resources and tools they need to prevent and deal with violence. With these things in their possession, girls can better protect themselves and be a central part of the prevention of sexual violence. Judith Bruce, a global guru on empowering young women, has drawn up the following list of seven specific assets all girls should have in their self-protection toolkit by age 12. Though she was thinking of young women in the developing world when she created this list, many of these suggestions are useful in the developed world (and for boys), too. Bruce is a senior associate and policy analyst at the Population Council’s Poverty, Gender and Youth program and a long-standing member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She has worked for years on the ground in hotspots for violence against girls (such 16 Safe. Issue I
as in Haiti, after the 2010 earthquake) and says, “The subject closest to my heart is the six hundred million girls of the developing world.” Imagine if each girl could have:
• • • • •
1 At least five friends she can trust and count on. 2 A slightly older female mentor who is not a member of her family. 3 A girl-only space/platform in her community where she can meet her friends or mentor. 4 Personal documentation—e.g. passport or birth certificate—in her possession for citizenship rights, health and securing a livelihood. 5 A ge-appropriate life skills such as health information and financial literacy (including: knowledge of contraception options, the physical risks of genital mutilation/cutting, budgeting and how to track income and spending).
6 Incubator savings—funds to help her travel to and stay in a safe space if something happens. 7 A context-specific, age-appropriate safety plan, including knowledge of where to go in case of an emergency.
Seven apps that can bring lifesaving help with the touch of a button.
Mobile technology has been cited for putting children more at risk for sexual and other types of violence. Indeed, it can connect children to information, people, ideas and networks they might not otherwise be able to access. But, while mobile technology introduces variables that can be dangerous, it can also be a lifesaver. We highlighted a few of the best apps that allow users to connect with pre-selected groups of emergency services, authorities, helpers and hotlines. Most are designed so that no one can tell the user is signaling for help and many employ GPS to track those in trouble. With often just a single tap or two, help can be immediately on the way.
1. bSafe Users of this app never have to walk home alone (it’s bSafe’s tagline). When triggered, the app sends an emergency text message to a preselected group of contacts. The free version allows users to establish a web of an unlimited number of “Guardians” who can respond to SOS texts. The paid version (USD $1.99/month or USD $14.99/year) includes the option of having up to three “Guardians” simultaneously called in times of trouble. The app uses GPS to show your “Guardians” your exact location. You can also program fake incoming calls and employ the timer mode that automatically triggers alarm activation if you don’t log in at the programmed time (free and paid subscriptions versions for Android, Blackberry and iPhone; neverwalkalone.com). 18 Safe. Issue I
2. Circle of 6 This app was designed by four college students (three are women) and won first place in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/White House “Apps Against Abuse Technology Challenge.” If a user needs help getting home or requires a strategic intervention by phone or in person, they can signal a pre-selected group of six friends in their “circle” that they need assistance. Two taps send out one of three predetermined text messages to six contacts— the sender’s exact location is included. The app’s icons are designed so that no one can tell that a user is signaling for help. In critical situations, the Circle of 6 app can be used to call pre-programmed national hotlines or a local emergency number for, say, campus security, police or 911 (free; for iPhone; circleof6app.com).
3. Fight Back It was developed to protect women in India from “eve teasing”—a term used to describe men’s unwanted attention towards women ranging from uncomfortable and threatening stares to undesired physical contact. It forwards the user’s location via GPS to pre-programmed contacts and can push out an SOS text message with a single tap. It can also be linked to Facebook (free; for Android, Blackberry, iPhone, Nokia and Windows; fightbackmobile.com).
This app instantly connects users with a safety network and authorities in case of emergency. It’s different from the others in that the phone call it sends out for help includes your name, precise location and type of emergency. It can be set up to send different types of requests for help (e.g. allergic reaction, stroke, walking home alone) to different groups. The profile page details birth date, eye/hair color, height, weight, blood type, plus medical info, doctor’s contact info and insurance details and policy number. The subscription version allows responders to connect by conference call and sends the group a text/e-mail linking them to an emergency response site where they can exchange messages, send photos and locate each other on a map. It also offers live location tracking and a direct connection to 911 (free and subscription version for Android, Blackberry, iPhone, iPod Touch and Windows Phone 7; guardly.com).
It’s estimated that 80 percent of women experience harassment on the street. This app is designed to record and prevent such harassment—from catcalls to whistles, gropes to ogles, hoots to hollers. The thinking is that street harassment is a gateway crime that makes other forms of gender-based violence okay. Users can snap a pic of a perpetrator of harassment and upload it to ihollaback.org which tracks the incident and signals to others where harassment occurs. Hollaback has local chapters in more than 18 nations (free; for Android and iPhone; ihollaback.org).
5. HarassMap HarassMap was created to respond to the problem of sexual harassment on the streets of Egypt—and the fact that such behavior has become increasingly accepted. While women’s groups in Egypt lobby for legislation to legally address the issue, the women behind HarassMap created this app to keep awareness high and to hopefully accelerate solutions to the rampant verbal harassment, groping, stalking and indecent exposure that are common in Egypt. The app allows anonymous reporting of sexual harassment through SMS. The reports are uploaded in real time and give users an indication of potential “harassment hotspots” and danger zones. It helps users steer clear of these areas and helps police and security personnel establish areas of concentrated threats (free; harassmap.org.).
7. One Love DA The One Love Foundation was established in 2010 by Sharon and Lexie Love (and other friends and family members) to honor the memory of Yeardley Reynolds Love. The “One” reflects the number on Yeardley’s high school and college lacrosse jersey. The number has since been retired by the University of Virginia in her memory, but her legacy lives on, helping to protect young women from sexual violence. The DA stands for “danger assessment” because this app helps young women (16-24) recognize dating violence. It poses 20 questions (such as: Is he an alcoholic or problem drinker? Does he ever try to choke you? Do you feel owned and controlled? Has the physical violence increased in severity or frequency in the last year?) in order to help women ascertain if they are in a potentially abusive or dangerous relationship. Women who get a high score (which indicates they are in a dangerous relationship) are urged to seek immediate professional help and are supplied with a list of phone numbers and resources (free; for Android and iPhone; joinonelove.org). togetherforgirls.org 19
In case of emergency Should prevention efforts fail, anyone who has been raped should seek medical help as soon as possible—and within 72 hours for maximum health benefits. Here are 4 good reasons why:
1. The Prevention of HIV through Post-Exposure Prophylaxis, or “PEP” “PEP” is a short-term dose of antiretroviral HIV medications that, if administered as soon as possible and within 72-hours of potential exposure to HIV, can reduce the risk of HIV infection by more than 90 percent. The course of 2-3 medications must be taken daily for 28 days. Depending on where you live, PEP may be available at an emergency room, onestop center for post rape care, a community health center or an HIV clinic. It is important to take the medicine as soon as possible—and as prescribed—in order to realize optimal protection. 2. The Diagnosis and Treatment of Other Sexually Transmitted Infections In addition to being exposed to HIV, those who have been sexually assaulted may also have been exposed to other sexually transmitted infections (STIs)— such as chlamydia, genital herpes or warts, gonnorhea, syphilis, or trichomoniasis. A visit to a health clinic can diagnose and treat those. Some STIs (like chlamydia) have no easily discernible symptoms but can do permanent damage if left untreated. Plus, being screened for STIs—and, if they are found, engaging in related prevention or treatment options—can help prevent passing any infections on to others. 3. The Prevention of Pregnancy through Emergency Contraception For those who are not currently pregnant or using contraception, emergency contraception can help prevent a pregnancy 20 Safe. Issue I
post rape. As is true with PEP, the sooner you take it, the more effective it is. And, while like PEP, it is most effective within 72 hours, some types of emergency contraception reduce the risk of pregnancy for up to five days. There are a number of types of emergency contraception—from “morning after pills” to an IUD. Morning after pills are essentially a specially packaged high dose of oral contraceptive and are generally very accessible (at least in high income countries). There are many different brands and formulations. In some countries, like the U.S., single-dose morning after pills may be available over-the-counter in pharmacies. For more information on this, including how to use regular oral contraceptives as emergency contraception, consult a health care provider or visit: http:// ec.princeton.edu/questions/dose.html. 4. Breaking the Cycle of Perpetration—and Healing Oneself No matter what the circumstances, sex without explicit consent is a crime in most countries; most survivors have grounds for seeking retribution against their attacker. Given that perpetrators are often repeat offenders, engaging the police and bringing charges against a rapist can perhaps prevent future rapes. Even those who do not wish to personally press charges can begin to heal and get the mental health care they need by contacting health care providers, crime victims’ advocates, or a local rape crisis center/hotline about an attack. Reporting rape has been shown to support the mental health and emotional recovery of those who have suffered an attack. Even the act of disclosing an incident of sexual violence to a trusted friend or supporter can be an important first step in recovery.
Letâ€™s Hear it for the Boys Men and boys, traditionally seen as perpetrators of abuse, are increasingly recognized as vulnerable to itâ€”and as integral to the solution. by Joya Taft-Dick 22 Safe. Issue I
2013 study involving more than 10,000 men in six countries in the Asia-Pacific region found that nearly half of those interviewed reported using physical and/or sexual violence against a female partner (the rates ranged from 26 to 80 percent, depending on the country). The study, conducted by Partners for Prevention, also discovered that, on average, nearly a quarter of the men interviewed (from 10 to 62 percent) had raped a woman or girl. The most common reason men gave for committing rape? The belief they had the right to sex regardless of consent. While these findings point to overwhelming rates of abuse by men, the study also revealed that many of the men interviewed had alternate perspectives. Some men in the study expressed frustration with the dominant notions of what it means to “be a man.” They suggested it was possible to embody masculinity differently— expressing one’s “manliness” in ways that do not prioritize power, control or violence.
“I think boys are learning the wrong way to be men. This macho way of thinking leads to violence. We can be men without using violence.” “From the time we are young, boys are taught to be strong. That we have to be brave. That we shouldn’t cry and that we should withstand pain [without showing we’re hurt]. And that boys should be superior to girls,” says Douglas Mendoza from Nicaragua in an interview with MenCare, a global fatherhood campaign aimed at helping fathers raise their boys with modern and benevolent attitudes towards women and girls. “I think boys are learning the wrong way to be men. This macho way of thinking leads to violence. We can be men without using violence.”
Strategies to Engage Men The following are innovative strategies used by a few global organizations to engage men and boys in ending violence. Parenting Programs and Fatherhood Campaigns: Programs that strengthen parenting skills and encourage men to take on a caregiving role at home and be non-violent fathers can be helpful. According to data emerging from a campaign, when caregiving by men goes up, the rate of violence against women and children goes down. Confronting Power Dynamics: SASA! is a community engagement program started in Uganda that has now spread to other countries and is designed to address a core driver of violence against women and HIV—the imbalance of power between women and men and girls and boys. The interventions offered through SASA! inspire and enable communities to rethink and reshape social norms around the acceptability of violence and gender inequality; to recognize the links between these issues and HIV/AIDS; to take effective action to change their own relationships; and to support women experiencing violence or who are at risk for or who have contracted HIV/AIDS. Teaching Gender Equality in Schools: In Brazil, the Ministry of Education developed an online course for teachers focused on promoting gender equality. Teachers are incentivized to enroll: Those who pass the course get additional credits towards their professional development and a salary increase. By educating teachers, both male and female, to have greater sensitivity to gender issues and promote gender equality, the program has the potential to have a domino effect on the children in their classrooms. Engaging Men in the Empowerment of Women: Research done in Rwanda demonstrates that including men in efforts to economically empower women results not only in higher incomes for families, but also increased communication between husbands and wives or partners, and, in turn, less violence. togetherforgirls.org 23
Mendoza, coordinator for MenCare’s Masculinity Network for Gender and Equality, is one of a growing number of men around the world working to rally men to reconsider traditional norms, such as men’s superiority and control over women and their use of violence as an expression of that control. They are also raising awareness about the life-long and cyclical negative repercussions for men who experience violence as a child. “If we want to really address sexual violence, we need to take a step back and look at family violence,” says Giovanna Lauro, U.S. deputy director for Promundo, an international organization working to engage men and boys in violence prevention and response. “Boys who grow up around domestic violence have a much higher likelihood of perpetuating that kind of violence [themselves].” In addition, as Lauro points out, children often don’t have access to the psycho-social support they need to help them understand, process and move beyond the violence they have witnessed or experienced at home. “We have to engage men as fathers,” she says. “When men can set a violence-free example in their home, it helps break the chain of intergenerational cycles of family violence.” The key is encouraging men to let themselves be emotional, caring individuals—caretakers and role models—as opposed to being simply patriarchal, authoritative figures who feel the need to be tough and who think violence is acceptable. Partnerships like MenCare, people like Mendoza and the many other men worldwide dedicated to ending violence against women are critical to moving the needle. They are out in their communities talking to boys and men about new ways to view and embody masculinity. They’re turning gender norms on their heads—declaring that being a man does not revolve around the exertion of power or reliance on violence and being a woman does not require sexual servitude or constantly taking the proverbial back seat. By refusing to accept harmful social norms, these men are busting the stereotype of men-as-perpetrators-of-violence and instead becoming an integral part of the solution. Perhaps most important, by demonstrating how the “boys will be boys” mentality is not only simplistic but harmful— for everyone—they protect many from unnecessary pain.
24 Safe. Issue I
Things You Can Do > Be Aware Pay close attention to the lyrics of the music you and your friends listen to as well as the level of violence in the video games you play. Also, be aware that derogatory slang terms like “bitch,” “whore,” and “slut,” reflect and perpetuate the idea that women are not on the same level as men—in the case of “bitch,” which means “female dog,” the term implies women belong to another species altogether. > Speak Out Remaining silent when others in your midst are using language that demeans women means you are a passive participant in misogyny. Instead, call people out and educate them about why such language is hurtful. Explain how it propagates attitudes that can lead to violence. Similarly, whenever someone tells a joke about a woman being hurt in some way or teases a man for not being “manly” enough, tell them their joke isn’t funny and is misogynistic. > Engage in Conversation Talk to women about how violence, or the threat of violence, affects their lives. Talk to children to make them aware of their risks for violence and explain that it is absolutely the right thing for them to talk to a trusted adult if it should happen to them. Ask men about how it feels to be perceived as an aggressor— and how it feels to be worried about being a target, too. Teach boys around you that they can “be a man” without relying on violence or the degradation of others. > Confront Yourself Examine and, if necessary, confront your own beliefs, behaviors and actions. Educate yourself further on the issue of sexual violence and get engaged in the solutions. Seek help if you feel, or become, violent towards others. If you witnessed or experienced violence as a child, and have not sought psycho-social support, consider doing so.
photo courtesy of Hiram Martinez-Cabrera
Hiram Martinez-Cabrera was just a young boy when he experienced sexual assault. Years of suffering at the hands of his stepfather led him to take action—and take back control over his life. Today, he is a sophomore at the University of Florida in Gainesville where he is studying public relations. Vice President for the university’s Pride Student Union (the LGBTQ group), he is well-known on campus as a brave trailblazer for human rights, equality and safety from violence. Here, Martinez-
Hiram Martinez-Cabrera’s third grade class photo
Cabrera shares his journey.
heard my mom mutter prayers through her tears—she prayed this situation would pass. When I was five, I knew that money brought joy and happiness and that no money brought distress and pain. Watching my mom suffer, I wished for things to somehow change. My wish came true when I was six.
y mother and father came from Puerto Rico to the United States to live the American dream and create a better life for their children than the one they had known. But working full time while facing the stress of trying to raise young children unraveled their marriage. They divorced when I was three years old.
As the only male in a Latino household, a lot was expected of me. I had to protect my mother, and my older sister. I had to live up to a level of machismo—not shedding a tear when the tough things kept getting tougher. But I got emotional very quickly and easily. I would rather stay inside and play with my sister’s toys than go outside to play catch with the boys from my neighborhood. If my mother was disappointed in me, she never said so. She was busy working at Sea World Amusement Park from dawn to dusk. Each day, my sister and I would get dropped off at the sitter’s with a kiss and picked up at around 9 p.m. with another kiss. Going from living in a house with two parents working full time to a house supported only by my mother was hard. Our socioeconomic situation drastically changed. My mother took my sister and me to offices with posters on the walls that read: “Medicaid” and “food stamps.” People in those offices cried and begged for assistance. At home, I over26 Safe. Issue I
After years of my mom going to sleep in a bed by herself, I noticed her going more and more to her friend Salvador’s place. We all went to Salvador’s for holidays and special occasions. As time passed, Salvador began taking us to school. One day, my mom told us Salvador would be moving in with our family, and he would be our new “papi.” My sister and I were ecstatic. My mom could stop working so much. She seemed happier with a partner by her side, and, above all, my family was finally considered “normal” like those of other children in my class. Little did I know, this move marked the beginning of what would turn into eight years of experiences no person should ever be forced to face. Every Thursday night, my mother, sister, Salvador and I would gather around the TV to watch our favorite show, “World Wrestling Entertainment: Smackdown.” The show was two hours long. My mother and sister often went to bed early, and I stayed downstairs until I fell
asleep on the couch. One night when I was asleep, Salvador picked me up and took me to my room. I felt safe in his arms. When he laid me on the bed and tucked me in, he moved my head in his hands until he pressed his lips against mine. My mind emptied. I did not know what to do. He whispered to me, “This is our own little secret.” He kissed my forehead and left. As I lay there, I decided to think it was a normal occurrence. I had seen parents kiss their children on the lips all the time.
I wanted to tell my mother what had happened, but I knew if I did it meant she would have to go back to working two jobs to put bread on the table while my sister and I stayed with a babysitter. So I decided not to say anything. The kissing between my stepfather and me continued. The location began to vary from my room, to car rides when he dropped me off at school, to the backs of supermarkets. Months and then years passed. As I went from first to second to third grade, the relationship between Salvador and me reached deeper levels. When my mom fell asleep in their king-size bed, he would head to my room and lay next to me, saying, “You know I love you right?” Saying those words, he would move my hand towards his sleeping shorts and under his underwear. When I acted reluctant, he just kissed me to reassure me that everything was okay. He slid my hand deeper into his shorts so it touched his penis; I retracted my hand and turned around in my bed. One night, instead of getting up and going back to his room, he stayed next to me until the morning. When my mother asked why he was in my bed and not hers, he said I had had nightmares. I wanted to tell my mother what had happened, but I knew if I did it meant she would have to go back to working two jobs to put bread on the table while my sister and I stayed with a babysitter. So I decided not to say anything, to hold out hope it would stop, and secure the safety and happiness my mother deserved in the meantime. Salvador provided a roof over our heads in exchange for my kisses; he placed food on our table in exchange for my blowjobs. I began to view my life as a math equation: sexual act + stepfather’s satisfaction = socioeconomic security and a happy, relaxed mom. In April of 2004, when I was in the fourth grade, my mother and Salvador tied the knot in the Osceola County Court
House. I decided that if I was going to go through with enduring the circumstances, I would go the whole nine yards. I hid any negative emotions, feelings, or second thoughts under a smile. Things picked up quickly as I got older: kissing and mutual masturbation turned to penetrative sex any moment we could find, from places like the shed in the backyard to public restrooms in supermarkets. What had been a threetime-per-week-trauma turned into a daily task to check off my to-do list. Life became a strange routine: wake up, brush my teeth, eat breakfast, have my stepdad take me to school, give him a blowjob in the car, get out of the car, get good grades, talk to friends, leave school, head to a friend’s house, play video games, have my stepdad pick me up, make out with my stepdad in-between red lights, get home, do homework, eat, laugh, shower, head to bed, slip into his bed or have him slip into mine, perform sexual favors, go back to sleep, repeat. Anything I needed, wanted or desired was a mere sexual favor away. I considered myself the best prostitute in Kissimmee, Florida. My mother spoke so highly of my stepfather and me. She said we were the most important men in her life. I had lost sight of who I was becoming and what I was doing in order to protect my mother. All I envisioned was my family’s security and happiness. But with each stroke of my hand upon his penis or each touch of my lips to his, I lived more hollowly.
All I could do was hold her and let every feeling of agony, pain, self-hate and anger that had built up during eight years of silence and abuse come pouring out. March 26, 2008, everything changed. Days before, I told a close friend of mine that I had been feeling sick and not safe at home. I was about to go to high school, and thinking about the social expectations from classmates made me nervous. I told my friend what had been going on for the past eight years of my life. Awestruck, she gave me three days to tell the police. At the deadline, I told her that I had confided in the authorities and they were going to deal with the situation. I lied over and over, until one day he picked me up from school while she was nearby. On the morning of the 26th, my friend told our teachers. Walking into class and seeing how the teachers approached me simultaneously more aggressively and cautiously, I knew my friend had said something. I called my mom and asked her to togetherforgirls.org 27
pick me up from school since I felt weak and out-of-mybody. She didn’t answer so I went home on foot. By the time I reached home, there were three police cars outside my house. The policemen were waiting on my doorstep with my mom. The moment my stepfather arrived home and opened the car door, the police handcuffed him and slammed him against the vehicle.
tion on the eight years I spent sleeping with my ex-step dad. I cannot fault her for thinking that way; to this day, I still find it hard to believe that I am gay and that my orientation is not a product of my past. Immediately after the divorce, my sister started working full time while trying to stay in high school. My mother stayed in bed, agonizing and loathing the house she lived in, saying, “Everything reminds me of him; it makes me want to leave this world early.”
Watching the police arrest my stepdad, my mom began to cry, not realizing what Surrounded by pain and grief, was happening—or why. I I decided to take life into my grabbed her and told her I own hands and change what I had been sexually abused for could change. I founded and eight years by her husband— became president for two years my stepfather. The look in of the Gay Straight Alliance her eye was that of a lion at my high school. I created a losing her cub in a stampede. safe space where people could Wiping her tears away, she come regardless of their sexual grabbed the gun of the officer orientation / gender identity. closest to her and aimed it at I sat down with my mother my stepfather’s head. They and sister and suggested we said if she shot it, two people cannot sulk about the past. I would be going to jail. She told myself that I needed to dropped the gun and fell make a future for myself and to her knees, sobbing. All I began hitting the books harder could do was hold her and let than before. As a result, I got every feeling of agony, pain, into the University of Florida, photo courtesy of Hiram Martinez-Cabrera self-hate, and anger that had where I am a student now. built up during eight years of silence and abuse come pouring out. While I have come a long way, I still struggle sometimes. I have intimacy issues with guys I date. I often overwork myself After a year of being in and out of courtrooms—where I revisto the bone to ensure I stay on top. Surviving sexual abuse has ited what happened through a review of various types of evimade me grateful for the opportunities God has given me to dence, such as videotapes of the two of us having sex and the have a second chance to achieve. Whatever walks of life we pornography he kept in his car—my mother was divorced and come from—rich or poor, straight or queer, black, white, or Salvador was sentenced to 25 years in prison. As much as I brown—we all have to decide what to do with our situations. would have liked to see him sent to death row, my hope is Family was the most important for me when I was six, and I during the 25 years he will serve, he will reflect on what he did. do not regret the choices I made then though they have made my life hard. I know that second chances do not come easily, It took years of counseling, medication and fights between my so I am grabbing the one before me now. Once, I relied on mom and me to come to terms with what happened. When I others for a better future. Today, that opportunity is happily came out as gay in high school, she blamed my sexual orientain my own hands. 28 Safe. Issue I
A Golden Opportunity
When Kayla Harrison medaled at the 2012 London Olympic Games, she became the first American, man or woman, to bring home the gold for the U.S. in the sport of Judo. Her accomplishment is all the more extraordinary given she was sexually abused by her first coach. Recognized as an elite athlete, Kayla now has a new goal: a world where children are safe from predatory adults. She now coaches others to fight back—a thing she has done with remarkable strength, courage and dignity. By Regan Hofmann
ayla Harrison answers the phone from the road. She’s in a car headed westward from Boston, looking forward to taking a break from her rigorous Judo training schedule by spending a week relaxing with her family.
It is not surprising that soon she felt love for Daniel—as much love as she felt for the sport itself. The two were interchangeable in her mind. Nor is it surprising that given her love and trust, she would do anything for him.
I sense someone’s with her. There is. It’s Aaron Handy, her fiancé. As he pilots the car back to Harrison’s home state of Ohio, she takes me back in time, sharing how she has evolved from being a young girl with Olympic dreams held down by the hands of a hurtful man to a young woman in possession of an Olympic gold medal holding hands with the man she will soon marry.
Daniel returned her devotion, expressing his desire to please her. His support and affection began innocently with backrubs. Over time, the contact got more personal, and more inappropriate; eventually turning into intercourse. Kayla was 12 at the time. “I was sexually abused by Daniel until I was 16,” Harrison said.
At the age of six, Harrison, who is now 23, was already addicted to Judo. Even before her age reached double digits, Harrison dreamed of winning at the Olympics. “About a year after I started Judo, I went to my first competition and was pretty much hooked from then on,” Harrison said. In response to her passion and promise, her mom did what most parents desirous of supporting their child might do: find her daughter a top-notch coach and turn her development over to him. About two years after she first started Judo, when Harrison was 8 years old, her mother moved her to a new, more competitive club. That is where she met Daniel, her coach who would come to sexually abuse her. Signing up to Daniel’s program, she did what many young athletes who are Olympics hopefuls do: fully, and unconditionally, commit herself to the tutelage of her coach. 30 Safe. Issue I
But though she found herself in a difficult position, she stayed. By that point, Judo had become her life. Her dreams of going to the Olympics had crystallized into concrete aspirations— and Daniel, who was integral to her success in Judo—was in a position of absolute power. “It was a tricky situation,” Harrison said. “When you’re a coach, you have a lot of sway over the way children think and act and what they do. Because I was going for the gold, when Daniel said ‘jump,’ I said ‘how high?’” “I was terrified,” she continued. “I was a pretty sheltered 12-year-old. I didn’t have any previous experience but I also wanted to please him. It really grew out of that. I felt that I loved him.” But her feelings morphed over time. “As I got older my entire demeanor changed,” she explained. “I went from being this super type-A, center-of-attention,
photo by Bill Wadman
photo by Bill Wadman
bubbly, outgoing, fun-loving girl to someone who wore sweatpants every day. I stopped talking to my friends at school. I fought with my mother every day. I couldn’t stand my young brother and sister. I became suicidal. I pretty much only talked to Daniel or people who were in the Judo world. My world became very, very small.” Kayla fought a constant inner battle. “Every day I would wake up and go to school,” she said. “Even though I was an athlete and potentially a future superstar, I had worries my friends didn’t know about. While my friends were worrying about whether a boy liked them or not or whether they had passed a test, I worried about if I was pregnant or not. And I couldn’t talk to anyone about the things I was worrying about. I was living a lie and I hated myself for it. Initially, that was what forced me to say something. It got to the point where either I was going to kill myself, I was going to run away or I was going to say something. I am just lucky that there was someone in my life—a friend—who cared enough to not stop asking questions and to continue to hound me until I found the courage to say something.” That friend is now her fiancé, Aaron Handy. The first time she mentioned her challenges with Daniel to Hardy, she said Daniel had made a pass at her. “In my mind,” Harrison said, “I was just going to move away. I wasn’t going to deal with it. I just thought if I said I didn’t want to be around him that would be the end of it, and I would just go on with my life. Fortunately for me, that wasn’t the case. When I said that Daniel had made a move on me, Aaron said, ‘What happened? Tell me. What do you mean? Tell me more.’ He wouldn’t stop questioning me. So I went from saying Daniel had made a pass at me to saying he makes me uncomfortable to telling the truth: I finally said, ‘I have been having sex with Daniel since I was 12 years old’.” At the time of her confession, Harrison and Hardy were driving home from a Judo tournament. Distraught over the news, Handy punched the windshield, cracking it. He then made Harrison call her mom. “From that day, my life changed forever,” she said. “My mom was devastated. She felt betrayed. Daniel had been a very close friend of the family. She immediately pressed charges and then the FBI got involved. Eventually, Daniel was convicted. A month after I first told her, my mom packed me up and moved me up to Boston where I live now. It was hard. It definitely changed our relationship and it changed her too. It made her very wary of the world.” How did Harrison feel?
“I was furious and numb. I was 16 at the time, so I felt that I was old enough to be responsible. I felt like if Daniel had to go to jail then I should, too. I felt it took two to tango. I felt I was a mature adult. I felt I knew what I was doing. I tried to explain to people that I loved him and that when I turned 18 we were going to get married. Of course, I was so brainwashed, I just didn’t understand.” Citing research on sexual violence, Harrison said, “It’s fascinating to see that athletes are one of the best targets for sexual violence. Especially athletes who come from broken homes or have no father figure. My dad left my mom and I was raised by my stepdad. I played right into that hand. I am an extreme overachiever, I craved attention, and approval and that is exactly what predators look for. I had a fear that if I didn’t have Daniel, I couldn’t have Judo. They became intertwined. Daniel was Judo and Judo was Daniel. My biggest fear was disappointing someone, my parents, my friends, Daniel.” A month after disclosing to her mom, Harrison found herself in a completely new environment with a new coach [Jimmy Pedro—her coach today] and new teammates, living in an athlete house with eight guys and three girls. “I was an emotional wreck,” said Harrison. “The way I would describe myself for that first year and a half was numb. I was in and out of therapy, experiencing extreme PTSD. I spent time in a hospital. It was a serious struggle. It took me a long time to realize that what happened to me was wrong and an even longer time to come to grips with the fact that while it happened to me, it doesn’t define me and it’s not who I am.” Harrison powered through, driven by her goal of becoming an Olympic champion. “I had something to wake up for every morning. I was surrounded by people who had the same goals, dreams and hopes for themselves. I had blinders on. It was all about the Olympics and that healed me in a way.” Reflecting on how the whole Pedro family helped her recover, she said, “When I first moved to Boston, it wasn’t about Judo, it was about a lot of people getting me to live again. My coaches, friends and Aaron made sure I went to school and that I went to therapy so I could learn coping skills. Once I started to be able to make it through a practice without crying, things started to get better. To the Pedros, it was really important to them that I have a really strict sense of what a [proper] relationship with your coach should be. I find it extraordinary that I trusted the Pedros the exact same way I trusted Daniel. I believed in them. They also said ‘jump’ and I said ‘how high?’ but look at how differently things turned out. Big Jim is one of my best friends. I can talk to him about togetherforgirls.org 33
anything. I feel extremely lucky that the Pedros are such good, solid people. You’ll never find better. Not just coaches but people.” Harrison described Judo thus, “The martial art of Judo started in 1882. It’s one of two martial arts that is an Olympic sport; it became an Olympic sport in 1964. Judo in Japanese means ‘the gentle way.’ It’s all about using your opponent’s momentum, abilities and strengths against them. You don’t fight force with force; you redirect it and use it against them. I’m extremely biased. Judo is unique in that you can take it to the highest level and become an Olympic champion, the epitome of sports, but it’s also a way of life, and a mind-body work out. It’s a battle of wills; a test of your inner strength.”
and going for London. In London, I took my revenge and I won.” When asked what she felt like the day she won the Olympic Gold, Harrison said, “Oh, I don’t know if I can describe it. First of all, to go and represent your country as an Olympian feels amazing. You are 1 percent of the population. You get to do something not many people get to do. To go and win your country a gold medal was my life’s dream. I dreamed of it my whole life and to do it was just incredible. And to win the first medal ever in Judo for the United States…I don’t think I’ll ever come down from the clouds from that experience. Athletes call them ‘white moments,’ and it’s sort of like when you just reach that plain of just knowing you’re going to win. You can just feel it. You know everything’s going to go right for you and you’re doing everything so well. And you’re so in the zone. I woke up that morning in London and I knew I was going to win. I was in a little bubble of serenity. Everyone around me was buzzing and hectic and frantic but I was completely calm.”
When asked what makes her different from her peers in the sport, she said, “Part of it is the team I have around me. I have an amazing support system. I have all the tools necessary to win, but a big part of it is the mental aspect. I visualize myself winning big tournaments months before they happen. I visualized the Olympics every night for two years before I went to sleep. I visualized myself on top of the podium, hearing the Rituals? “Oh my goodness, I am wicked superstitious,” Harrinational anthem. I visualized the entire day. My first match, son says with the faintest trace of a burgeoning Boston accent. second match, third match. My warm-up. What I ate for “I always wear the same socks. They have a golden ring around breakfast. Hugging Jimmy after I won and hearing the crowd them. I always pack my bag the night before a certain way and cheering for me. By the time I got eat a certain kind of breakfast. It got to the point where either I was there, I had done it thousands of Say a prayer facing a certain way times in my brain and I was ready going to kill myself, I was going to run away before I leave my room. I listen for it. I felt it was my destiny. to the same playlist on my way or I was going to say something. And I know that because of that to the venue and when I do my and everything I’ve been through in my life, that I am menwarm up I start with the same song. Jimmy and I have our tally tougher than anyone I will ever fight. I’ve been through little breathing exercises we do in the same exact way…I’m more and come out on top after dealing with way more than quirky. I’ve realized that I do better when I’m on a roll. From anyone should ever have to and I’ve hit rock bottom and sur2010 to 2012, I was pretty much at every competition—there vived. That, alone, makes me believe in myself. But I also are four big tournaments a year called grand slams plus the believe in myself because there were others who did when I world championships. And most of my competitors would didn’t, people who gave me the courage, strength and mental go to those so they fought five times a year. I was fighting fortitude I needed.” 16 times a year, at the grand slams, worlds and grand prix. I didn’t always win the grand slams, but that’s because I didn’t Harrison moved to Boston in 2007. In 2008, she won the always see them as competitions as much as training opporJunior World Championships; in 2009, a silver medal at the tunities. That’s because my coaches are geniuses. The big ones Worlds; in 2010 Harrison won the Senior World Champiare what count. I want to win world and Olympic medals. onships. “It was at that time I distinguished myself as one of Those are ones people will remember. The U.S. doesn’t have the ones to watch,” she said. “Because I had won the World the bodies or funds to compete at home like Brazil or France Championships, it was pretty clear I was going to make the so we have to get the experience by competing.” Olympic team. Every single year since 2008, I’ve been on a world podium. That makes me feel a huge swell of pride. What’s next for Harrison in Judo? “I always thought I’d retire When it’s time to show up and compete I’m on, ready and from Judo if I won the Olympics,” she said. “But it’s made prepared. No matter what happens. But in 2011, I took a me realize I’m not finished yet. There are a lot of things I bronze at the Worlds and was devastated. I’d lost my world want to accomplish. Now, I’m considered one of the best title. It was exactly the ‘failure’ I needed to keep me hungry in American history. Maybe the best. If I can go to Rio and 34 Safe. Issue I
win another gold medal or another world championship, I’ll go down in history as one of the best ever in our sport period. I’ll be a legend. That drives me. I want to leave a legacy behind. I want to be a good role model and a good person. I try to wake up every day and be the best possible version of myself.”
I can imagine that you must be going through hell and that it feels you will never feel happy again and that you are at rock bottom, but there is light at the end of the tunnel, a rainbow after the rain, a gold medal if you choose to strive for it. You’re only a victim if you allow yourself to be. And the first way to stop that is by saying something.”
Asked whether her wins in any way heal what has happened to her, she said, “I don’t know that you could ever be healed from something like this. It’s a part of you. It will affect me for the rest of my life. I’ll be able to overcome it and define myself outside of that. But honestly, I don’t think of that when I think of the Olympics. To link my Olympic win to the abuse I suffered would take away from that moment. In that moment, it was me and my family and it was everything we had sacrificed. It wasn’t about being a victim of sexual abuse at all.”
On the subject of the importance of prosecuting those who commit violence Harrison said, “It’s a huge factor in helping to stop violence. A very high number of perpetrators are repeat offenders. [Having them behind bars] breaks that cycle and I think it brings closure for the survivor(s).” Having achieved a milestone that would lead most to retire in glory, it seems Kayla’s run for recognition has only just begun. She’s already made Olympic and American history. Now, she’s set her sites on winning another gold in Rio, besting the Brazilians on their turf in the sport they have long dominated. If she manages to do that, she may indeed become a living legend—one of the best Judo competitors of all time.
But while she may not connect the moment of her greatest win to her greatest act of overcoming another challenge, Harrison has since leveraged her new position in the global limelight to address the issue of sexual violence. “Since And, while she pursues expanding her entry in the history London, I’ve dedicated a large part of my life towards raising books through her athletic accomplishments, she is equally awareness. I am Kayla Harrison, world champion, Kayla determined to be remembered for what she does in the arena Harrison, Olympic champion, of protecting girls like her. HarriI am just lucky that there was someone in my but I am also Kayla Harrison, son’s future plans include creating life—a friend—who cared enough to not stop survivor. Part of the problem of a foundation for survivors of sexual abuse is the taboo around asking questions and to continue to hound me sexual violence. “A big part of it is it that keeps people silent. Here raising awareness. I give speeches until I found the courage to say something. I am, with this literal gold medal at countless organizations and opportunity, and I have this huge platform and a chance to fundraisers. I’ll always do that—share my personal story to use my voice to do some good in the world on an issue that’s try and make a difference,” she said. “I want to make the very close to my heart…that gives me a responsibility, I feel, biggest impact I can. I would like to create a foundation that to be a voice for those who don’t feel they have one and to be will outlast me.” part of the change and a part of fixing the problem. If I didn’t do that, it would be a crime.” As for Handy? He too continues to save lives—as a professional firefighter in Massachusetts. What messages does she want out there? “I think it helps people [who have experienced sexual violence] to realize that “I consider him my guardian angel,” Harrison said of her despite the fact that something terrible happened to me I was fiancé. “He’s a big part of the reason why I am who I am able to move on with my life. I want people to understand today. He changed my life and he saved my life. That formed that my life changed because I spoke up. And I want them to an unbreakable bond. He’s one of the only people who has believe that that can happen to them, too. And that they can ever loved me unconditionally. I feel very blessed and lucky to be a happier, healthier, whole person. For me, opening my have him in my life.” mouth was the biggest step. Having someone believe me and say [that what happened] was not okay was critical. That’s No doubt, future generations of young women are likely to part of why I talk so much. I want people to realize that the benefit from the fact that Kayla Harrison is very much alive— taboo has got to go.” and kicking it. Asked what she’d say to a young woman or man in the midst of a sexually abusive relationship, Harrison said, “I would say:
To connect with Kayla, follow her on Twitter @Judo_Kayla or kaylaharrison.com. togetherforgirls.org 35
A Girl At Heart Photographer Charlotte Raymond has traveled the globe—from the Valley of a Thousand Hills in South Africa to St. Petersburg, Russia—documenting the stories of children at risk for all types of challenges, including sexual violence. By humanizing abstract crises, she plays her part in encouraging people to engage in solutions to them. For more than three decades, photographer Charlotte Raymond has chronicled the lives of people who might otherwise remain unknown. Her quiet, compassionate nature allows her deep access into the lives of people and places not often seen. Sharing her subjects’ circumstances with her audiences, she builds bridges—between those in need, and those capable of helping. Her work highlights what many have to overcome just to get through the day. As her portraits show, they do so embodying what is best and most irrepressible in the human spirit—often maintaining dignity, humor and resilience in the face of great pain and despair. Her intent is always to find the extraordinary in the ordinary, beauty in the most mundane of things and the humanity that surrounds us, though it often remains unseen and under appreciated. “The people I photograph open up their souls to me,” says Raymond. “So I feel an obligation to do my best to create images that will allow me to share their plight with those who help help better their lives. In my own way, I try to give people greater voice. I feel honored to have the chance to help make some small difference in their lives.” Raymond explains to her subjects how their images will help raise awareness of difficult situations and bring hope, support and relief.
During her many trips to sub-Saharan Africa, Raymond recorded both the progress being made and the enormous, ongoing pain caused by the HIV/AIDS pandemic and the sexual abuse that helps the virus spread. Her work has appeared in special exhibits sponsored by the National Geographic Society, Secure the Future and the World Childhood Foundation, as well as at several one-woman retrospective shows in New Jersey. She has been published in outlets like the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Discover. Raymond’s studio is in New Hope, PA, where she lives. Here, we feature a collection of portraits of some of the children Raymond has documented around the world. They remind us of the reason Safe exists: to help protect and empower children the world over, because keeping today’s children safe and sound—from poverty, orphandom, homelessness, disease, exploitation and abuse of all kinds—is one of the best ways ensure a future world filled with more joy and less pain. Her work is driven by her belief that every child has a right to a childhood, safety and happiness. To see more of her work: charlotteraymondphotography.com
She has traveled to Burma to record the work of missionaries helping children express themselves and realize their rights through new learnings and the arts. In Thailand, Russia and Brazil, Raymond photographed children who escaped the ravages of sexual exploitation to build lives for themselves by accessing direct services, prevention tools and education. 36 Safe. Issue I
Editor’s note: It has not been determined that any of the children pictured here have suffered sexual violence. But many of them live in areas where sexual violence is a real and present danger.
Girls around the world face a variety of threats to their safety. The people on this list are finding innovative solutionsâ€”and are themselves part of the solutionâ€”to ending the pandemic of abuse against children.
Together, for Girls
5 0 global heroes who help stop sexual violence against children.
We live in a hashtagged world. Where entire tragedies get reduced to the briefest sets of numbers and letters following the pound symbol. #9/11. #Haiti. #Darfur. #SandyHook. #Fukishima. #Haiyan. #Steubenville. The gravitas of a crisis is often in inverse proportion to the length of its Twitter handle. (Because if it’s really a serious thing, you need to leave room for the news. On the other hand, subjects like #catsthatlooklikeHitler or #crazynastyasshoneybadger require reserving few of the 140-character limit on Twitter for expository thoughts.) The relative importance of world events is further measured by how long they defend their reign at the top of Twitter’s hashtag charts by continuing to trend. Not surprisingly however, in a time in which the digitally dedicated face a seemingly endless flow of information daily, the half-life of concerns for any given crisis is regrettably short. It’s hardly long enough for the millions who tune in briefly to actually engage in and address the tragedy at hand. And heaven help an affected group if two tragedies happen at once. Often, the collective attention span of the global audience dwindles as quickly as it was roused. In a globalized world where technology and social media connect millions of people instantly, we are always just minutes from hearing about—and being asked to respond to—the next catastrophic world event. The world has never been more constantly and completely accessible. And, arguably, never more overwhelming.
photo by Charlotte Raymond
Some manage the infoglut by choosing to only pay attention to certain kinds of tragedies. Others take in whatever news comes over the transom until they can’t take it anymore. (Then, they retreat to a viewing of the #crazynastyasshoneybadger until the horrors of the human world are chased from their neurons.) If it sounds a bit bizarre, it is. But it’s not easy to be aware of so much heaviness, nonstop, every day. And yet, the willingness to square off daily with the darkest aspects of life and to focus unrelentingly on finding and implementing solutions to them is exactly what certain remarkable people do. Every. Single. Day. togetherforgirls.org 45
You are about to meet 50 truly extraordinary people from around the world who have the heart to stomach some of society’s worst ills. Things like: genital cutting and mutilation, child marriage and sexual assault. The unsavory list goes on. These heroes share a dedication to ending sexual violence of all types. By highlighting their wondrous work, we hope to engage you in this fight as well. Step one to solving any serious problem is a willingness to admit there is indeed a problem. For far too many years, the issue of sexual violence, has thrived, unchecked, in the vacuum of silence. That silence has allowed the crisis to develop into a pandemic of staggering scope. Step two to resolving a tragedy is understanding the nature of what you’re up against. The work of Together for Girls, the global public-private partnership that brings you this list, and this magazine, contributes to the efforts of many people and organizations on this list by capturing data that proves there is a horrific problem and helps engage governments in solutions by describing the exact scale and type of sexual violence being perpetrated within their borders. Step three is developing an implementable, effective action plan. Step four is recruiting the warm bodies, leadership and funding capable of putting the plan into place.
Who’s not on this list? Notably, a set of people who often play the most central role in ending sexual violence: the friends, mentors, sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, neighbors, tribal or faith-based leaders, peers, co- and healthcare workers who notice the changes that point to sexual abuse—and who have the courage to speak up and ask the right questions, relentlessly and reassuringly, until the person needing help feels comfortable confiding in them. We have also intentionally omitted some of the big, marquee names because a) you know who they are and b) we wanted to celebrate some unsung heroes and highlight some unconventional ideas, innovators and best practices that deliver a surprisingly profound punch. Though each person on this carefully considered list is remarkable, they are by no means the 50 people who matter most but rather 50 of the people who matter a whole heckuva lot. They are listed alphabetically.
For far too many years, the issue of sexual violence, has thrived, unchecked, in the vacuum of silence.
The 50 people you are about to meet take many of those steps. They admit sexual violence is rampant around the world, they have strategies for intervening and—most importantly—they suit up and get in the game.
It’s unlikely many of these brave souls planned their lives to end up focused on addressing violence, especially sexual violence, wielded against the children of the world. But thankfully, the roads they traveled took them to a place where providing for— and supporting the self-empowered safety of—our world’s young is their day job. Because of them, solutions are being found and implemented around the world. These heroes are the light bringers. They are the whistleblowers, risk takers and the lawmakers. They question social norms, provoke conversations and tell it like it is. They are watchdogs, media hounds and meticulous researchers, hot on the scent of fresh data. They are, alternately, diplomats or disturbers of the status quo. All of them are people who are willing to venture where few others dare go. And where they go, they are willing to stay, sticking it out for the long haul, refusing to head home until the job is done.
46 Safe. Issue I
This list is neither conclusive nor inclusive of the legions of people making enormous headway to reduce sexual violence. (It would take a veritable phone book to list all who deserve recognition.) Therefore, instead of being encyclopedic, this list is a Whitman’s Sampler if you will of good ideas, championed by great people.
We hope this list (and the whole of this issue) will serve as a catalist for a global web of connectivity encouraging the exchange of bright ideas and best practices. Far from being the last word, it is intended as a conversation starter. (To join the conversation, visit togetherforgirls.org or @Togetherforgirls on Twitter.) We know you will enjoy meeting the incredible people on this list. We hope you will join us in celebrating and thanking them. We dream that you will consider offering your support for their work and we encourage you to reach out to us and make us aware of all the heroes we have yet to meet. Our digital world is indeed reductive; stories of global suffering can be tidily reduced to 140-characters. But it can also be wonderfully expansive—such as when digital technology and social media are leveraged to bridge those like-minded, lionhearted souls who work tirelessly to make the world a better, saner, healthier, safer place. After all, it’s not what comes after the hashtag that matters, but whether each of us is willing to step up in the face of stoppable tragedies.
50 global heroes who help stop sexual violence against children 1 Nujood Ali Forced by her Yemeni parents at 10 to marry 30-year-old Faez Ali Thamer, Ali was raped daily by Thamer for the first two months of their marriage. She sought solace with her father, but he beat her and told her if she did not comply with her husband’s sexual wishes, “He will rape you, and no one will convict him.” Ali used bread money to escape to Sanaa, Yemen’s capital, where she went to court seeking a divorce. A judge noticed her sitting alone during the lunch recess and gave her temporary refuge in his home. Two days later, Ali’s husband and father were taken into custody. Yemeni law allows girls of any age to wed, but it forbids sex until an unspecific time at which they are considered “suitable for sexual intercourse.” Shada Nasser, Ali’s lawyer, argued that Ali’s marriage violated the law since she was raped. The judge overseeing the case proposed that Ali return to her husband after a break of three to five years. She refused. On April 15, 2008, Ali was granted a divorce. Ali rejoined her family and returned to school. She is planning to become a lawyer. Media coverage of her case has inspired other judges to annul other child marriages around the world.
and boys as partners in our efforts for gender equality. The world cannot afford the costs of violence against women and girls. Make no mistake: there can be no peace, no prosperity, no progress, without the full and equal participation of women. Wherever I go, this is the message I convey.” And indeed, she does.
Gary Barker A leading activist and researcher on the subject of engaging men in gender equality and violence prevention, Barker is the International Director of Promundo-DC, the U.S. office of Instituto Promundo, a Brazilian non-governmental organization based in Rio de Janeiro (he founded the organization). Promundo promotes gender equality and reduction of violence against children, youth and women. He was also the founding co-chair of MenEngage, a global alliance of international organizations that strive to engage men and boys to promote gender equality worldwide. A member of the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s campaign “UNiTE to End Violence Against Women,” Barker wisely said (in an interview with Peace X Peace), “You can say that masculinities are destructive in their essence or you can see masculinities as socially constructed and open to change. [It is surprising] how easy it sometimes is to topple those rigid, machista versions of what it means to be men…It just takes a nudge at times, at the individual level and even at the collective, to get men to admit that the tough guy thing with the violence and all the sexual conquests never worked, that it’s all a sham.”
Michelle Bachelet As Chile’s first female President (she ran her nation from 2006-2010), Bachelet is back for round two and hopes to win the December 15 runoff presidential election (as we go to press, she is the front-runner). Following her first stint as Chile’s leader, Bachelet served as United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, the United Nations entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, where she launched its COMMIT initiative, calling on governments to implement international agreements to end violence against women and to commit to new, concrete steps to end human rights violations. At the United Nations’ 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women in March of 2013, she delivered a riveting speech on the widespread sexual violence against women and girls. She summarized her thoughts on the issue thus, “We need to dig deep to patriarchal culture; discriminatory socio-cultural practices; unequal distribution of social, cultural and economic power and the economic disempowerment of women. We need awareness raising, and education, and engagement of both men and women. I have said it many times, and I will say it again: we need to engage young men
John Bradshaw Bradshaw is the Executive Director of the Enough Project, an organization focused on ending genocide and crimes against humanity, including sexual abuse and rape in conflict zones. Think of the most intense hot spots of violence where human rights are as sparse as the water, layer in challenging political leadership, a difficult physical environment and often drastically absent basic resources for food, safety and health and you can start to imagine the kinds of environments where Enough works. Bradshaw’s previous endeavors ranged from serving as the Washington Director of Physicians for Human Rights (where he directed the organization’s relations with Congress and the Executive Branch and handled a wide range of human rights togetherforgirls.org 47
subjects, such as issues arising from the conflict in Darfur, U.S. health policies in African and U.S. interrogation and detention practices) to coordinating the Human Rights Leadership Coalition. He served as an advisor at the Open Society Policy Center, worked as a Foreign Service Officer and was Foreign Policy Officer to U.S. Senators Wellstone and Torricelli while they were members of the Foreign Relations Committee. Oh yes, and he was in the Peace Corps. When the going gets tough, Bradshaw gets going. Jackie Branfield Known for tackling the alarming increase in child sexual abuse cases in South Africa head on (a “maverick crusader,” according to her official bio), Branfield is the founder and director of Operation Bobbi Bear in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. She mobilizes communities to make the criminal justice system accountable, to demand swift prosecution of perpetrators and to ensure that victims are treated sensitively while addressing their high risk of HIV infection. Seeing how—due to social taboos tied to discussing body parts—children had no safe way to express their experiences of sexual violence, she found one. She created a stuffed, canvas bear (called “Bobbi Bear”) that is given to a child at the point of rescue. The toy is combined with counseling methods to help obtain forensic evidence of a sexual assault in a rapid, unthreatening way. This allows law enforcement officials to gather consistent facts and helps determine whether or not the child is at risk for contracting HIV/AIDS without causing additional psychological stress. The bears are sealed as evidence to be used in legal cases, sparing the need to bring a traumatized child into a setting that could inflict further trauma by requiring them to recount details of sexual violence in a public setting. The bear is a recognized symbol. When police, nurses and court officials see a child clutching a Bobbi Bear, they know a citizen advocate is accompanying the child to demand justice on their behalf. Branfield is one of three program directors at Arms Around the Child, a global NGO fighting for the happiness of children. We’d like to also give a tip of the hat here to U.S./European Executive Directors of Arms Around the Child Leigh Blake and Ellie Milner, respectively, who support Branfield’s courageous compassion.
step to becoming a change maker; it is feeling the burning need of what you want to do and what you have to achieve at a certain time. To be passionate is when you are exactly feeling the pain that others feel and you are desperate to try your hardest to help out in any way you can. Belief comes when you know you will achieve your target because you have come to realize that there is nothing in this world that cannot be achieved. To believe is when you can close your eyes and see the results right there, in front of you and your soul gets ready to achieve those results because every possibility has grown in size and every barrier has shrunk to a droplet. Persistence is the fact that to achieve your goals, you have to keep moving, keep trying and struggling and doing the best that you can, not forgetting that once you have chosen where you want to go everything around you also directs itself towards making sure you get there. The future woman is ‘Sughar,’ which means skilled and confident,” says Brohi. “She knows where she is stepping to and what she wants from life. She is aware that in the past there have been women fighting for the rights she is enjoying currently and therefore she is grateful and willing to contribute to the betterment of society.”
Khalida Brohi A 24-year-old youth activist and social entrepreneur, Brohi is the Founder and Executive Director of the Sughar Program that fights the traditions of honor killings and exchange marriages in Pakistan by offering socio-economic empowerment to tribal women. She believes the three qualities that make a change maker successful are: passion, belief and persistence. “Being passionate is the first
48 Safe. Issue I
Sarah Brown Her Twitter description reads: “Mum, charity campaigner, writer, enthusiastic chirper, believer of good things, especially the power of education to transform lives.” She’s all those things—and more. The wife of former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Gordon Brown (who is currently the UN Special Envoy for Global Education) is known as a passionate global advocate for women’s and children’s health, rights and education. She fights back against sexual violence as a patron of Women’s Aid (a side “bravo”to actress Keira Knightley who starred in Women’s Aid’s amazing video campaign to raise awareness about domestic violence) and as a member of Gucci’s “Chime for Change” campaign’s advisory board. Brown is also well known for her relentless focus on the importance of educating children, an effort that ties directly to the safety of girls as research shows those who have higher levels of education are less likely to be subject to violence. In an interview with Index on Censorship magazine she said, “All the evidence shows that for every extra year of education you give a girl, you raise her children’s chances of living past five years old, because educated mums are more likely to immunize their kids and get them the health care they need. Educated girls are more likely to stay AIDS-free and are less vulnerable to sexual exploitation by adults. They marry later, have fewer children and are more likely to educate their children in turn. If we want better politics, a politics of pluralism and freedom of expression around the world, then it begins
with empowering women—and that begins with educating them.” We would also like to mention another wife of a different former British Prime Minister, Cherie Blair, who is an equally bold champion of women and girls, protecting their health and rights through her eponymous foundation and the White Ribbon campaign. There must be something in the water at 10 Downing Street…
Tina Brown The media icon (journalist, magazine editor, columnist, talk show host and author) hardly needs an introduction. But of all her illustrious awards and accomplishments, one we’d like to highlight is the work she has done on behalf of promoting women and girls through her Women in the World conferences. The former editor of Tatler, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, with the backing of Vital Voices, is taking the formerly U.S.-centric conference global. Brown has said, in an interview with the New York Times, “Women in the World has become such an important convening place for women, adding momentum for the global women’s movement, that it made me realize how exciting it could be to do it all the time…live events have become kind of a theatrical journalism. Our mission is telling stories, shedding light. I always say it is foreign affairs through the eyes of a woman. What’s going on with women in those places? Those voices are ignored in the coverage you read. It isn’t told from the point of view of a woman. What does she think?” Indeed, by giving women a global podium from which to advocate for the betterment of their futures and by connecting the rising women stars of health, policy, law and media with those whose work already protects and empowers women, Brown is helping make the best and brightest even better and more dazzling.
Judith Bruce Bruce is the Senior Associate and Policy Analyst with the Population Council’s Poverty, Gender and Youth Program. She is a global guru on girls, reproductive health services, and adolescent girls’ status in the developing world, family and partnership dynamics, and women’s access to and control of resources inside and outside the household. She is also on the Council on Foreign Relations and a Harvard grad. Smart, articulate, fierce and funny, she’s the kind of listened-to expert who gets called into places like Haiti when the incidence of gender-based violence spikes in the aftermath of a natural disaster such as the January 2010 earthquake. For her recommendations for how to arm young women with the things they need to empower themselves, see “Teach Your Children Well,” on p. 16.
Jennifer Buffett As President and Co-Chair of the Novo Foundation, Buffett leads and oversees the vision, strategy and program development of the foun-
dation that states they are “dedicated to catalyzing a transformation in global society, moving from a culture of domination to one of equality and partnership; supportive of the development of capacities in people—individually and collectively—to help create a caring and balanced world; and envisioning a world that operates on the principles of mutual respect, collaboration and civic participation, thereby revising the old paradigm predicated on hierarchy, violence and the subordination of girls and women.” An impassioned protector of women and girls and tough fighter to end violence and exploitation against them, Buffett serves on the boards of the Nike Foundation (which is behind the Girl Effect) and V-Day (see #20). She also extends grants to Nike to support the Girl Effect; to Women & Girls Rebuilding Nations, a five-year, $17 million effort to fight violence against women in Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Ivory Coast; and to Girls Not Brides, a global partnership led by The Elders to help the estimated 10 million girls around the world who are married before they are 18. “I am not one of those ladies who lunch,” Buffett said in an interview with Fast Company. Indeed. A woman who received a gift of approximately $1 billion from her famous father-in-law who works tirelessly to capitalize on what she calls “undervalued assets”—the women and girls of the world—clearly isn’t spending her days gossiping over a salad with a gaggle of girls. Instead, she’s saving the lives of millions of them.
Jacquelyn Campbell Currently the Anna D. Wolf Chair at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, Campbell has been involved in advocacy, policy work and research in the area of violence against women and women’s health since 1980. Principle investigator on 10 major national research grants, she also co-chaired the Steering Committee for the WHO Multi-Country Study on Violence Against Women and Women’s Health. She chaired the Board of Directors of the Family Violence Prevention Fund and served as a member of the congressionally appointed U.S. Department of Defense Task Force on Domestic Violence. She is also chair of the board of Futures Without Violence. It’s no surprise then to discover Campbell is behind a powerful new app for cellular phones, based on her work on danger assessment. The app, called “One Love DA” is a domestic violence risk management tool developed for the One Love Foundation—a foundation started by Sharon and Lexie Love in the memory of their daughter, Yeardley Reynolds Love, who was a victim of sexual assault. It allows women and girls to ascertain whether or not they are in a relationship given to physical, emotional or sexual abuse. If so, it helps them move to safety. For more on her creation, see “Defensive Dialing,” p. 18. togetherforgirls.org 49
Hillary Clinton The former First Lady and former U.S. Secretary of State embodies and champions the best of what makes a girl, and eventually, a woman, safe, stellar and strong. On International Women’s Day 2012 she said, “We want a great crescendo of voices, an international chorus that says clearly and unequivocally that women and girls deserve the same rights and opportunities as their fathers and brothers and sons.” She has been a life-long champion of the rights, and self-empowerment, of women and girls. To whit, her decision to appoint the U.S.’ first Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, an honor she deservedly bestowed on her former Chief of Staff Melanne Verveer, another great champion of women and girls. The tradition continues; President Obama recently appointed Cathy Russell as the second Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues. While Russell has been at her post only a brief while, if her track record on fighting GBV is prophetic, chances are she’ll continue the tradition of strong American women encouraging U.S. leadership on the issue. As they say, the past is prologue. And then there’s the burning question of how global women’s empowerment could reach new heights should we have, say, a Madame President…
Gary Cohen Who would have thought a man in a charcoal suit and tie running a global medical technology company (BD, Becton, Dickinson and Co.) would become a leader on the issue of protecting women and girls? Cohen is a prime example of how you can’t judge a book by its cover. Though the executive vice president’s list of professional accomplishments and board associations is long (they’d fill a page of this magazine), one of his most stand out achievements to date is his devotion to bringing resources and strategic partners to the fight. It started when Cohen’s work took him to southern Africa where he saw the terrible impact HIV/AIDS was having on young girls and women. Realizing the connection between widespread HIV infection and the high rates of sexual violence, Cohen brought together a powerful coalition of leaders and convinced them to make a commitment at the Clinton Global Initiative to end sexual violence against girls. Today, that group is known as Together for Girls, a publicprivate partnership devoted to addressing the human rights and public health impacts of violence against children. Cohen is a highly knowledgeable, articulate, persuasive and respected force in global health who, thankfully for those at risk, is not afraid to tackle issues others choose to skirt.
Maria Cuomo Cole Cole is a street-smart beauty—inside and out—addressing some of today’s hardest issues head on. She is the executive producer of The Invisible War, a ground breaking, investigative documentary exploring the epidemic of rape and sexual violence in the U.S. 50 Safe. Issue I
military that won the 2012 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award. Many embroiled in the current debates around how the military should address the estimated 28,000 incidents of sexual violence a year and whether legislation proposed by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) to remove the military brass from trials involving cases of sexual assault in the military should or shouldn’t be passed cite Cole’s film as the catalytic event that started the whole brouhaha. Cole also probes the issue of gun control, serving as director of the board for The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. Another of her films—Living for 32—addresses the issue of gun safety laws in America. She also serves as Chairman of HELP USA, the leading national developer of housing for homeless and lowincome populations, including families, victims of domestic violence and veterans. She is also a member of the Mayor’s Task Force to Combat Domestic Violence in New York City.
Serena Dandini The celebrated Italian TV host is the author of Sisters Don’t Sleep, a two-part book, newly translated into English, that includes a collection of true stories, told in the first person, of women killed after years of violence and abuse and a collection of research into various forms of violence against women, such as honor killings, domestic violence and other abuses. Italy has a high rate of abuse and violence leading to the death of its women; Dandini hopes to change this through her powerful dramatization and humanization of those who would otherwise pass anonymously and silently into history.
Eramithe Delva Delva is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of KOFAVIV (the Creole acronym stands for the Komisyon Fanm Viktim pou Viktim or Commission of Women Victims for Victims)—a not-forprofit, grassroots women’s group based in Port-au-Prince, Haiti that cares for rape victims there. A survivor of rape herself, Delva is one of the pioneering women who gathered in secret to meet with her sisters and conceive a plan for justice. The struggle for women’s rights against violence and rape has been long in Haiti; neither crimes were punishable by law until 2005. Delva and others in her group who vowed to protect others from what happened to them continue to work relentlessly to get the Haitian government to uphold the promises they have made, but not yet honored, to better protect their women and girls from sexual assault.
Jos Dirkx The Brazilian-born Dirkx established Girls & Football South Africa in April 2012 while completing her master’s in global political economy and conflict resolution. Her passion for social justice and gender equality has propelled her participation in projects, debates, fund raising and campaigning for increased public awareness of
women’s rights, and her hands-on experience with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees furthered her dedication to making social justice and gender equality a worldwide priority. She is a 2013 Women Deliver Young Leader and a TedX speaker. Notably, her organization fights back against the “corrective rape” of lesbians.
Mallika Dutt The Indian-American Founder, President and CEO of Breakthrough, an Indianbased, global human rights organization focused on violence against women, sexuality and HIV/AIDS, immigrant rights and radical justice, is revered as a leading innovator in human rights, multi media and culture change. Case in point: Breakthrough’s “Bell Bajao” initiative. The male-led campaign allows men and boys to break the cycle of violence against women by ringing the doorbell or otherwise interrupting the violence they see in their midst (bell bajao means “ring the bell” in Hindi).
Maria Eitel As founding president and CEO of the Nike Foundation, Eitel tasked herself with turning the foundation into one with a major impact on the world. She summed up her approach in an interview with leanin.org. “It was clear that poverty was, and still is, the issue of our time. But to truly solve the problem, not just put a Band-Aid on it, we had to get to the source and find the highest point of leverage to fix it. At first, I believed addressing women in developing countries was the answer. But after more time on the ground, it became clear that once a girl becomes a woman, it’s already too late. She has likely quit school and already has several kids. Game over. Yet before she’s a woman, there’s still a chance. If we were going to break the poverty cycle, we had to start upstream. But how? Reaching young girls in developing nations wasn’t an easy task. When we tried, we were told: ‘Oh, she’s out in the field,’ ‘She’s tending the sheep,’ or ‘She’s at the market.’ It was clear ‘she’ wasn’t in school, ‘she’ wasn’t available, and ‘she’ certainly wasn’t valued. Most often her family would ask, ‘Why would you want to talk with her?’ That’s when we knew we were onto something. We knew we needed to get girls on the global agenda. We wanted to get them resources and make them a part of the economic equation.” And so she has.
all-things-gender-related (the vagina), Ensler has leveraged her Vagina Monologues fame to create a world-wide-web of self-empowerment for women and girls that helps them help keep themselves safe. Her creation of V-Day links women and girls (through the V-girls program) to each other, and to themselves in ways that teach and inspire them to become advocates for the value and protection of their bodies, hearts, minds—and vaginas. Ask any women, or man, who has seen Ensler’s play and you’re apt to hear how it changes everything they thought about women and their bodies. Ensler continues to empower women and girls (and men and boys) around the world through new theatrical works (e.g. Turning Pain to Power, I Am an Emotional Creature: The Secret Lives of Girls). She encourages those in her network to put on local productions, the proceeds of which get committed to local programs protecting women and girls against violence. Her work is always based on the stories of those who rise above repression with grace, dignity and courage; her hope is that these stories start conversations that change the world. And they do. For more on her incredible “One Billion Rising” campaign, see p. 9 and p. 76. We’d also like to acknowledge the work of Dr. Denis Mukwege, a gynocological surgeon and Founder and Medical Director of Panzi Hospital who works in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Ensler supports his incredible work. As she said in an interview with feminist.com, Dr. Mukwege is “sewing up women’s vaginas as fast as the militia are ripping them apart.”
Eve Ensler Speak Ensler’s name almost anywhere in the world and you will trigger the same thought: saver of women. Initially best known for giving license to women and girls to get to know—and to name out loud—the body part perhaps most squarely in the center of
David Finkelhor The Director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center, Co-Director of the Family Research Laboratory and Professor of Sociology at the University of New Hampshire is known the world over for his research into child abuse and family violence. Two of his publications, Sourcebook on Child Sexual Abuse (Sage, 1986) and Nursery Crimes (Sage, 1988) are to those aiming to stop sexual violence against children as the Joy of Cooking is to chefs: essential, fundamental, seminal. All in all, he’s penned 11 books and more than 150 journal articles and book chapters. His is simply essential reading for all in the field. Coiner of the phrase, “Developmental Victimology,” he delves deeply into the nuances of the drivers and types of violence wielded against children.
Jane Fonda Fonda is well-known as an Academy award-winning actor, author and activist. What is perhaps less well-known about her is the time and energy she has committed to raising awareness around sexual violence. In the mid-1990s, she started a non-profit in Georgia called the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power and Potential togetherforgirls.org 51
to address issues of sexuality among disadvantaged teenagers. Through this work, she became drawn to studying the effects of sexual violence on girls and boys, as she discovered that many of the girls they worked with had been sexually violated. On a personal note, she also recently revealed through her blog that her own mother had been sexually abused as a young girl. Fonda said, “sometimes [I] feel that I was called to this work because, unconsciously, I knew that the shadow of sexual violation had cast a shadow over my own family.” Fonda has also been an active supporter of V-Day (see #20) since 2000 and is a member of the V-Board, a role that has led her to travel the world, championing the cause, and encouraging men and women to participate in V-Day’s “One Billion Rising” campaign. If that isn’t enough, she also co-founded, along with Gloria Steinem and Robin Morgan, the Women’s Media Center, an organization working to amplify the voices of women in the media through advocacy, training and content creation. She is now using her blog to share information about sexual violence, educate readers on what they can do, and where they can go to seek help if they are a survivor, and generally to break the silence that ultimately kept her own mother from telling her story, and receiving the help she needed.
Nancy Glass A champion of trying to empower and protect women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo—an area of the world known for its astounding 52 Safe. Issue I
Kate Gilmore The UN Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director (Programme) of UNFPA, Gilmore has a long history of improving public health in her homeland of Australia where she was the Programme Development Manager of the Royal Women’s Hospital and CEO of the country’s largest community health service. Gilmore is a frequent moderator and panelist on the subject of sexual violence at high-level meetings around the world. She has said, “Sexual violence is a socially transmitted disease.” One of her first jobs was in a shelter for women who had experienced domestic violence. We also acknowledge the wonderful leadership of UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and the former Minister of Health for Nigeria.
Claudia Garcia-Moreno A physician from Mexico with a master’s in community medicine from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Garcia-Moreno has more than 25 years of experience in health care delivery, research and policy working in Africa, Latin America and Asia. For the last 15 years, she has led the World Health Organization’s (WHO) work on gender and women’s health, violence against women and HIV/AIDS in women and girls. She currently spearheads the team on Gender, Reproductive Rights, Sexual Health and Adolescence in the Department of Reproductive Health and Research at WHO. Garcia-Moreno was a co-author on the WHO Multi-Country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence, which was launched in 2005. Since then, the number of intimate partner violence (IPV) studies have increased four-fold. They have resulted in populationbased prevalence data on IPV collected from more than 90 countries. She is also the founder and coordinating group member of the Sexual Violence Research Initiative and on the Steering Committee of the Global Coalition on Women and AIDS.
rates of brutal rape and violence against women and girls— Glass recently received a five-year, $1.8 million grant from the National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities (NCHMD) to test the success of a microfinance program known as “Pigs for Peace.” The program provides a woman with a female pig—and breeding opportunities.Women repay the loan by giving two piglets back to the program; after their debt has been paid, they can keep or sell further piglets. “If you have six piglets, and sell them for $30-40, that’s significant,” Glass said in an interview with Johns Hopkins University. “In a country where the average annual income is $249, those pigs can make a difference in the women’s lives. If you’re able to support your family…if your kids are in school and you’re putting food on the table, your worth is significant. Being a survivor of rape becomes less important in terms of stigma and rejection.” The program, started in 2008, has been proven to be beneficial and there are plans to roll it out to other post-conflict settings.
Geeta Rao Gupta As UNICEF’s Deputy Executive Director, Programmes, Rao Gupta leverages her more than 20 years of experience in international development programming, advocacy and research to the protection of children. She has been a fellow at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (2010-2011) and was formerly the President of the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW). Her vast experiences in the field, coupled with her personal experiences facing threats of violence as a young woman growing up in India, have led Rao Gupta to be a deeply respected global leader on gender, women’s issues and HIV/AIDS as well as how to keep children safe from harm. She is also an advocate for women’s economic
and social empowerment given how these factors undergird a woman’s safety.
Rachel Jewkes Jewkes, a doctor and specialist in public health medicine, is a professor and the Director of the Medical Research Council’s Gender and Health Research Unit based in Pretoria, South Africa and acting Vice-President of the South African Medical Research Council. She has spent the better part of the last 20 years examining the intersections of gender-based violence, particularly intimate partner violence and sexual violence (including child sexual abuse) and gender equity and health in South Africa—a nation with remarkably high rates of sexual abuse, especially against women and girls. Working with the government of South Africa, she has helped shape public health policy. She also sits on the advisory board for the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) among others. A serious, and seriously effective, pro in the space of sexual violence reduction.
Rishi, Nishi and Ravi Kant Ravi Kant is the President of Shakti Vahini an organization that combats human trafficking and violence against women and children in India. The group was founded by Ravi and his brothers in 2001; Nishi is its Executive Director and Rishi is a social activist. The triumvirate supports the organization that has become a leading voice in the debate about violence against women in India. The Kant brothers work together to get their country to wake up to the needs of women who have been abused, trafficked, attacked and enslaved. “Shaki is the mother goddess, the goddess who has fought injustice,” explains Ravi. “Vahini is a brigade. There are many of us and we’re fighting together.”
Nicholas Kristof What do we really need to say about Nicholas Kristof? Two-time Pulitzer Prize winning author and journalist, he has lived on four continents, reported on six—and traveled to more than 150 countries. A writer for the New York Times since 1984, Kristof has covered presidential campaigns, China’s Tiananmen Square movement (for which he and his much-acclaimed journalist wife Sheryl WuDunn were awarded a Pulitzer—the first married couple to win such an award for journalism), the genocide in Darfur, climate change and much more. Kristof has developed a very serious interest in the issue of violence against women, and dedicates many of his columns to the subject. In 2009, Kristof and WuDunn published Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity, which rapidly became a best-seller. The book is a passionate call to arms against what they perceive to be our era’s most pervasive human rights violation: the oppression of women and girls the world over. The
book soon became a movement by the same name, bringing together video, websites, games, blogs and other educational tools to not only raise awareness of women’s issues, but to also provide concrete steps to fight against issues they face.
Senator Patrick Leahy The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was enacted in 1994 in the U.S.; the legislation has been the bedrock of the federal government’s response to domestic violence since. It provides critical funding for programs and initiatives designed to support and help victims of domestic and sexual violence— programs that have saved lives and helped reduce domestic violence across the country. It also provides assistance to state and local law enforcement and to organizations that support and serve survivors of abuse. Senator Leahy (D-VT) has been a longtime defender of VAWA and spearheaded the recent multi-year effort to renew and improve this lifesaving piece of legislation. Partnering with Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Senator Leahy shepherded the legislation to passage in the Senate on February 12, 2013, with a strong bipartisan vote of 78-22. On February 28, 2013, a bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives voted to pass the bill. President Obama signed the bill into law on March 7, 2013. The Leahy-Crapo Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 renews VAWA’s charter for another five years and includes new and essential protections for all victims of domestic violence, including college students, immigrant women, tribal women and members of the LGBT community. The bill increases focus on sexual assault and will help reduce the backlog of untested rape kits and has provision to allow police and victim assistant providers to better respond.
Somaly Mam Head of her eponymous foundation, Somaly Mam, a Cambodian human rights activist and survivor of sex slavery herself, empowers other survivors of sex slavery to end the horrible practice. Working with recovery centers in South East Asia in places like Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, Mam estimates that she and her team have assisted more than 7,000 survivors to date. Also of note is AnnaLynne McCord, an actress in the American show “90210” who is a survivor who speaks out against sexual violence. She first disclosed her personal story in 2012 and works with the Somaly Mam Foundation to protect and empower others.
Matthew McVarish The Scottish actor who stars in CBeebies hit TV show “Me Too!” is a survivor of child sexual abuse and an outspoken advocate for the fight against sexual violence. Currently, he’s on a 10,000 mile walk around Europe to raise awareness and educate people about sexual violence against children. The initiative, called “The togetherforgirls.org 53
Road to Change: Walk to Stop the Silence” is a project of Stop the Silence: Stop Child Sexual Abuse and international partners. Often spotted strolling in a kilt, McVarish aims to raise awareness about child sexual abuse, build solidarity between organizations and communities, support survivors and influence political and social change in the 28 countries comprising the European Union.
Molly Melching Melching is the founder and executive director of Tostan. Headquartered in Dakar, Senegal, Tostan’s vision is a world where everyone is treated equally and respectfully, where they are able to live free from harm and when they have the tools to determine their own future and fulfill their potential. Tostan (which means “breakthrough” in the Wolof language) and Melching are known for their work to encourage the abandonment of female genital cutting and child/forced marriage in Senegal and other West and East African nations. As of November, more than 5,500 Senegalese communities have publicly declared their abandonment of FGC after working directly, or tangentially, with Tostan’s Community Empowerment Program (CEP).
Jim Mercy As a Special Advisor for Global Activities in the Division of Violence Prevention, the National Center for Injury Control and Prevention, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the work of Mercy and his colleagues has helped transform the way Americans think about violence prevention by accurately framing it as an integral part of public health. Mercy says, “Everyone has a role and responsibility in preventing violence, by working to address the problem before it occurs. Through the research we do here at CDC, violence prevention is now well established in the public health field by Congress and the people who supply money to support research.” Mercy’s work also helped the World Health Organization to focus more closely on the issue and to conduct the first “World Report on Violence in Health.” He is also behind the “Safe Dates” initiative that uses a school-based curriculum to prevent dating in middle school-aged children. CDC-supported research has found that dating violence is generally an indicator of how adolescents will behave throughout their lives, particularly when they are in long-term relationships, which contributes to the larger problem of spousal abuse. By promoting and teaching children about respectful, two-partner relationships, Safe Dates has been proven to be effective in the prevention of physical and sexual violence.
Consolee Nishimwe Nishimwe is a survivor of the 1994 Rwandan genocide against the Tutsis. Born in Western Province, in Rubengera, Kibuye, she was
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14 when the genocide started. After her father, three young brothers and many close family members were murdered, she went into hiding, surviving physical torture; she survived with her mother and younger sister. Today, she lives in the U.S. and is a committed speaker on the genocide, a defender of global women’s rights, and an advocate for other genocide survivors. Her memoir, Tested to the Limit: A Genocide Survivor’s Story of Pain, Resilience and Hope, is a harrowing and inspiring testimony to her capacity to survive in the face of unthinkable sexual violence.
Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan A global champion of women’s and girls’ rights and safety, Queen Noor has said, “Conflicts raging across the Middle East today cannot be resolved without deliberate efforts to engage women and confront sexual violence.” Since 1979, the initiatives of the Noor Al-Hussein Foundation (NHF), have provided development models for Jordan and beyond through pioneering programs in the fields of poverty eradication and sustainable development, women’s empowerment, microfinance, health, and the arts as a medium for social development and cross-cultural exchange, many of which have become recognized models for the developing world. NHF provides training and assistance in implementing these best practice programs in the broader Arab and Asian regions through the Institute for Family Health, WAGE: Women and Girls Empowerment- Securing the Future, Tamweelcom—the Jordan Micro Credit Company, and the Community Development Program. In response to regional crises, the Institute for Family Health is expanding its pioneering work in trauma rehabilitation for victims of violence across Jordan and the Middle East, in addition to developing safeguards for child protection and against gender-based violence for local communities and refugees seeking safety in Jordan, in partnership with the UN and other NGOs.
Rahsaan Patterson Patterson is known for his soulful singing. But now the survivor of childhood sexual abuse is using his voice as a celebrity ambassador for the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN), the largest organization of its kind in the U.S. In an interview with singersroom.com, he said, “I was sexually assaulted when I was six years old and wasn’t able to share it with my family until I was 18. Looking back, I wish there was an organization like RAINN I could have turned to for help.” Patterson recorded “Don’t Touch Me” to ignite his bond with RAINN— and to raise awareness and funds for the issue. We’d also like to give a shout out to another American artist, female rapper and sexual assault survivor Angel Haze who re-recorded a version of Eminem’s “Cleaning Out My Closet” with lyrics reflecting the hardship she endured as a child facing abuse. Detailing
the journey she took—from having suicidal and homicidal thoughts to struggling with her sexuality and body image to a place, eventually, of self acceptance—she inspires others to find their own way to make peace with their past.
Gracia Violeta Ross Quiroga An HIVpositive women living in Bolivia, Quiroga is a member of the Latin American Network of People with HIV/ AIDS (REDLA) and a representative of the International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS. Quiroga, who contracted HIV through rape as a girl, has overcome her trauma to be a global spokesperson for women’s health and human rights. She emphasizes the impact that gender and gender-based violence has on HIV/AIDS and has said, “If we don’t fight gender inequality, we will never go a step forward in the AIDS response.”
Mary Robinson As Ireland’s first female President, Robinson is widely known for revitalizing and liberalizing a previously little-known, conservative political office. She resigned as president two months prior to the end of her term to accept her post as the High Commissioner for Human Rights at the United Nations. After her stint at the UN, she formed Realizing Rights: the Ethical Globalization Initiative which, among other goals, promoted the right to health and worked to strengthen women’s leadership. Now, back home in Ireland, she runs the Mary Robinson Foundation which aims to be a “center for thought leadership, education and advocacy on the struggle to secure global justice for those many victims of climate change who are usually forgotten—the poor, the disempowered and the marginalized across the world.” She is a member of The Elders, a group of world leaders convened in 2007 in Johannesburg, South Africa by Nelson Mandela, Graça Machel, and Desmond Tutu to contribute their wisdom, independent leadership and integrity to tackle some of the world’s toughest problems. When Robinson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama, Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International congratulated her saying, “Mary Robinson has long defended the rights of the underdog and has never shirked from speaking truth to power.” As an outspoken, passionate and forceful advocate for human rights and human dignity in all regions of the world, Mary Robinson has helped countless individuals from Sierra Leone to Rwanda to the Balkans to Somalia and to the Middle East.”
dren® in June 2012 after serving more than 12 years on its board, most recently as chairman. Since becoming CEO, Ryan has led a campaign to fight child sex trafficking in this country, which has shifted from the streets to the Internet, where children are openly advertised for sex on classified websites. In 2013, after the Jerry Sandusky scandal, Ryan spearheaded “Safe to Compete: Protecting Child Athletes from Sexual Abuse,” a summit co-hosted by the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, that brought together youth-sports organizations and issue experts to discuss child sexual abuse prevention. While at NCMEC, Ryan has also established a CEO Council and an Entertainment and Media Cabinet to raise awareness about missing and exploited children.
Ali Safran On the third anniversary of her sexual assault (as a Mount Holyoke student) Ali Safran came up with an idea to help others who experienced rape. She calls it “Surviving in Numbers” because she thought about all the people who she had told about her assault— the police, people in the legal system, etc.—without getting any justice. It occurred to her, while considering the number of people she’d told, that others must have experienced something similar. The name of the project plays on the phrase “strength in numbers” as well as the “numbers” survivors attach to their experiences: those they told, those they’d lost. With her project, which was launched in April of 2013, she hopes to highlight how prevalent sexual assault is on college campuses and, by doing so, hopes to help prevent it.
John Ryan Ryan was elected CEO of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Chil-
Fiona Sampson She is the Executive Director of the Equality Effect. The Equality Effect uses international human rights laws to improve the lives of girls and women. In partnership with Mercy Chidi, a director of a shelter for women in Meru, Kenya, Sampson (a Canadian) legally challenged the impunity of rapists and the absence of convictions in the cases of rape. Generally, the Equality Effect uses human rights law to achieve concrete change in the lives of women and girls in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi—change that will improve the health, safety, and standard of living of women and girls. They explore how and why women experience oppression and disadvantages, and how the law can be used as a practical tool to address the inequality experienced by women and girls; inequality that includes, for example, sexual violence, the feminization of HIV/AIDS, and the inability to own property. The goals of the Equality Effect include: that girls will not be subjected to female genital mutilation, that girls can go to school regardless of whether they are menstruating, that girls can go to school and not be sexually harassed togetherforgirls.org 55
and raped, that girls can graduate from school and choose any profession they like, that women will not be treated as property in their marriages and that husbands will not have a legal license to rape their wives, that women with HIV/ AIDS will not be forced from their homes and communities, that women will not be afraid to leave their homes because of fear of rape as a tool of political violence, that women can inherit their husbands’ property and own their own property, that women will not be forced into prostitution because they have no property rights, that women can run for public office without the threat of violence, and that women and girls will be assured access to justice.
Marta Santos Pais Appointed Special Representative of the United Nations’ Secretary-General on Violence against Children in 2009, Santos Pais brought to her position more than 30 years experience on human rights issues, engagement with the United Nations and intergovernmental processes and a firm commitment to the rights of the child. Prior, she was the Director of the UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre. An author of many books on the protection of children, she has dedicated the bulk of her illustrious career to keeping children safe. Santos Pais is a trusted and revered voice in global conversations about how best to support and protect children.
Michel SidibÉ Executive Director of the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, Sidibé has been a force for the health, dignity and human rights of people living with HIV/AIDS for years. A powerful voice around the world on the intersection of HIV/ AIDS and sexual violence, Sidibé has turned a spotlight on the need to address gender-based violence to both resolve the horror and to bring the additional benefit of stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS around the world. Under Sidibé’s oversight, UNAIDS’ mission is “zero new HIV infections, zero AIDS-related deaths and zero [HIV-related] discrimination by 2015.” Sidibé champions the elimination of discrimination and gender-based violence as essential to achieving those goals. Indeed, as long as women and children are abused sexually, it’s difficult to envision a world in which they could advocate successfully for their protection and health. A native of Mali, Sidibé works closely with the African Union to enlighten leadership on that continent about the things that must change to allow what science and the implementation of best practices on the ground show is possible: the realization of an AIDS-free generation and perhaps one day, a world without AIDS.
Malika Slimani Raped in Morocco by Hassan Arif, the Parliamentarian and President of her local municipality, Slimani took her case to the local courts. A lower court found Arif guilty and sentenced him to a year in prison. Malike became pregnant from the rape and DNA evidence confirmed that Arif was the father of the child. Malika, who screamed and broke a statute in the court room the day after the verdict came down, faced charges of contempt. Arif appealed his conviction and the appeals court overturned the lower court’s decision. But her case is one of several high profile cases that have triggered a civil society response. Another prominent one is the case of Amina Filali, another Moroccan women, who committed suicide after being forced to marry her rapist. In response to Filali’s decision to take her life, civil society activists organized a sit-in in front of the Parliament in Rabat, Morocco, to protest the Moroccan law that allows rapists to marry the girls they rape as a way to avoid prosecution. As Slimani’s case shows, there is still much headway that needs to be made in Morocco to protect its women and girls legally. But a continuing string of survivors bravely coming forward and protesting harmful laws and a lack of law enforcement is key to making that headway.
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Nancy Schwartzman An American filmmaker (as a director and producer), Schwartzman is better known as a “sex-positive, feminist activist.” She combined those things when she directed The Line, in 2009—a film exploring the culture of rape. She is the Director of The Line Campaign, a related effort, that is an interactive campaign working to break taboos with college youth and engender dialogue about desire, consent and boundaries. That effort comes on the heels of her work as founder of the New York City-based initiative “Safe Streets.” She started the project in 2005 in response to a spike in incidents of violent sexual assaults in NYC. Safestreets.org is a Brooklyn-based neighborhood watch organization that maps routes where sexual assaults have been reported. She continued to combine her tech-savvy and activist spirit when she created the “Circle of 6” app for cell phones with Deb Levine, who is the Executive Director and Founder of Internet Sexuality Information Services (ISIS). The app, which allows users to connect to six trusted friends with just two taps of their cell phone to signal for help, was designed by Thomas Cabus; it won the 2011 White House Apps Against Abuse Contest and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden called it “a new line of defense against violence for young people.”
Stacey Thompson Thompson was a 19-yearold lance corporal stationed at a Marine Corps base in Japan when she alleged her sergeant laced her drinks with drugs, raped her in his barracks and dumped her onto a street outside a nightclub at 4 a.m. At the time, she reported it to her military superiors, but no charges were brought against the man who was allowed to leave the military. Meanwhile, she became embroiled in a separate investigation of her use of drugs. Six months later, she was forced out of the service with an “other than honorable discharge” (one step below honorable discharge), which cost her her health benefits. Fourteen years later, emboldened by mounting pressure on the Pentagon to address the apparent epidemic of sexual assault among its ranks, she came forward publicly with her story, giving an exclusive interview to the Associated Press and appearing at a news conference with Senator Barbara Boxer in advance of the Senate’s hearings on sexual assault in the military. The battle for justice for victims of sexual abuse in the military continues to be waged as we go to press. Senator Boxer continues to push for a bipartisan bill that would put the jurisdiction of such cases into the hands of military trained prosecutors, rather than senior military officers (as is the process now).
Salamishah Tillet Dr. Tillet is an Associate Professor of English and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the U.S. and has been called one of the rising feminist activists and academics of her generation. After being raped, Tillet co-founded A Long Walk Home, Inc. with her sister, Scheherazade. A Long Walk Home uses art therapy and the visual and performing arts to end violence against women and girls. It partners with rape crisis centers, universities, high schools and state coalitions. Tillet penned Story of a Rape Survivor (SOARS) an award-winning, multimedia performance that tells how she reclaimed her body, sexuality and self-esteem after being sexually assaulted in college. She is also co-creator of The Girl/Friends Leadership Institute, an art-based feminist boot camp for African-American adolescent girls who have been impacted by violence in Chicago. And, she associate-produced Aishah Shahidah Simmons’ groundbreaking documentary, NO! A Rape Documentary. Tillett is a regular in the media and a regular contributor to The Washington Post magazine and The Huffington Post. An important voice, with power, persuasion and particularly fine insights.
U.S. and Africa. She founded the Rebecca Project Sacred Authority leadership and advocacy program, a national leadership network of parent-advocates in recovery and their allies. It is Walker’s goal for the Sacred Authority parents, by virtue of their own experiences and expertise, to authentically and persuasively speak truth to power. Having recovered herself from substance abuse, Walker has used her personal journey from suffering to healing to become a voice for other mothers and children dealing with violence, trauma and substance abuse issues. As part of her work, she expanded the Sacred Authority Leadership curriculum for women to train girl victims of sex trafficking to become leaders in order to help end the cycle of abuse, exploitation and poverty.
We Will Speak Out The global coalition of Christian-based NGOs, churches and organizations is supported by an alliance of individuals who have collectively committed themselves to see the end of sexual violence in communities across the world. One notable member is Dr. Nyambura Njoroge, a Presbyterian minister, leading theologian and ecumenist from Kenya who coordinates the World Council of Churches Ecumenical HIV and AIDS Initiative for Africa (EHAIA). The coalition is committed to empowering women and girls, to transforming relationships between women and men, and to ensuring that the voice of survivors of sexual violence—women and girls, men and boys—are central to their work. Given that the church is an integral part of communities around the world, with a mandate to care and stand with people who are marginalized and vulnerable, and that shame and fear often lead sexual violence to be hidden in churches and the wider community, We Will Speak Out works to harness efforts to prevent and eliminate sexual violence by supporting the church to speak out against sexual violence, to show strong and positive leadership on the issue and to be a safe place for people to go. The coalition also works to influence legislation and policy with a united voice. Rather than anoint a single individual associated with We Will Speak Out, we wanted to acknowledge the giant web of people around the world, tied to this organization, and so many others, who are part of the collective response to sexual violence. Who find the courage and resolve to see the truth, speak up, stand against the horror and fight back against those who hurt. We Will Speak Out is important because they are not afraid to go against the grain and work to change the world for the better. We say, simply, amen to that.
Imani Walker As Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Rebecca Project for Human Rights, Walker leads the organization that advocated for justice, dignity and policy reform for vulnerable women and girls in the
Michele Moloney-Kitts has dedicated the whole of her remarkable, 30-year career to keeping women and girls healthy, empowered and safe. Today, as the leader of Together for Girls— a global public-private partnership focused on stopping violence against children—she champions the possibility of a world free of the atrocities that threaten girls and boys around the world. Thankfully, the ranks of those with a similar view are growing.
lobal health diplomat. Foreign Service Officer. Nurse practitioner. Midwife. Mom. There are many ways to define Michele Moloney-Kitts. Regardless of what hat she has donned, empowering women and girls has always been her core priority. She began her career in the women’s health care movement working with disenfranchised girls in Oakland and Philadelphia as well as with incarcerated women ensuring they all had access to quality health services. She spent years as a Foreign Service Officer with USAID in Cambodia, Morocco and South Africa helping women around the world deliver their babies safely. And she presided over USAID’s international family planning service delivery programs where she supported the first program aimed at preventing the transmission of HIV from mothers to their children in Swaziland. Later, while serving as Assistant Global Coordinator of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), she turned the spotlight on how gender-associated power dynamics leave women and girls especially vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. Today, she is the Director of Together for Girls, which is housed at UNAIDS’ Washington, DC office. Together for Girls is a global, public-private partnership dedicated to eliminating violence against children, especially sexual violence against girls. Launched at the Clinton Global Initiative, Together for Girls convenes five United Nations agencies—the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO), UN Women, the Joint 58 Safe. Issue I
United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA); the U.S. government, through PEPFAR and its partners, USAID and the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Global Women’s Issues and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Violence Prevention. Private sector partners include: the Nduna Foundation, BD (Becton, Dickinson and Co.), the CDC Foundation and Grupo ABC. Working directly with national governments and civil society, Together for Girls develops and strengthens the capacity of individuals and institutions while building on existing programs and platforms where possible to integrate the issue of violence against children into social welfare, health, education and justice programs. The work of Together for Girls is focused on three priorities: 1) conducting national surveys to document the magnitude, nature and impact of violence against children, 2) creating and supporting evidence-based, coordinated programs based on data collected in each country that drive legal and policy reform, prevent violence and improve services for children who have experienced it and, 3) supporting global advocacy and awareness-raising efforts to spotlight the problem and promote evidence-based solutions. Here, Moloney-Kitts shares her insights about the pandemic of violence against children with Safe Editor-in-Chief Regan Hofmann.
photo by Bill Wadman
photo by Bill Wadman
Regan Hofmann: Why did you choose to focus on the issue of violence against children at this point in your career? Michele Moloney-Kitts: I’ve been blessed to have a long career dedicated to helping women and girls. In my early 20s, I was a nurse practitioner focused on adolescent health, young women’s access to family planning and women’s reproductive health and rights. Then, I became a nurse midwife, and eventually, I got engaged in global public health. I made a conscious choice to take this position because violence against children, particularly girls, is an issue shrouded in silence. And yet it is everywhere around us. We’re never going to stop it unless we start talking about it. It’s a privilege to have the chance to bring my lifetime of experience to bear on what I think is one of the most fundamental human rights questions of our time.
A world where a billion children suffer violence is not a world that most people want to live in.
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RH: Why was Together for Girls created? MMK: The impetus came from Gary Cohen. As an executive vice president for Becton Dickinson, he had the opportunity to work on the fight against HIV/AIDS. It became clear to him that violence against girls was driving the HIV epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa as well as undermining the broader development agenda. At the time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta were partnering with UNICEF and the government of Swaziland to do the first survey focused on violence against girls conducted outside of an upper-income country. People knew violence was happening but they didn’t know what kind or at what scale. The data from that first study—now called the “Violence Against Children Study”—put formal metrics on an issue that had previously been described anecdotally. The data made it possible to really engage on the issue. Gary was quickly able to engage the highest levels of leadership from public and private institutions, and got them to commit to work on the issue. Those partnerships led to the creation of Together for Girls. RH: Why is the data collected via these national surveys critical? MMK: Before these surveys were conducted, no one had hard data on the prevalence or risk factors related to violence. The surveys allow us to document those things. What we’re finding in the countries surveyed is that more than one in three girls and more than one in seven boys have an unwanted sexual experience before the age of 18. We found that more than one-in-five girls’ first sexual experience was forced. That the most common place for these experiences is the home although going back and forth to schools, and the schools themselves, are also very risky. Through this work, as well as other studies we are also learning about what drives perpetration.
Of great importance is that we’re showing—and this is supported by data from the U.S. and Europe—that if you experience violence as a child, including sexual violence, the consequences to you are both immediate, such as (depending on your age) trauma, HIV or unintended pregnancy but also long-term, such as higher rates of drop out from school, engaging in more risky behaviors that in turn make you vulnerable to HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, lower self-esteem and higher suicide rates. We’re even finding that [experiencing violence in childhood] ties into things like diabetes and hypertension. These issues are very important to country governments who, while concerned about the human rights aspects of the problem, are also clearly invested in having a healthy population that can contribute to their nation’s economic growth and development. Together for Girls, working through our partners, provides technical assistance and support to governments as they carry out these studies. It’s their survey, their data. The data are not merely put on a shelf; rather, they are used to develop a national action plan and to mobilize local responses to directly address the problem. That’s a huge shift. The governments also set up and lead a multi-sector task force bringing together relevant ministries—such as the health ministry, the police, the judicial system, social workers and the ministry of finance and civil society. RH: Is there a particular country that’s doing an exceptional job leveraging the data to effectively fight violence? MMK: In countries like Swaziland, Tanzania and Zimbabwe —pretty amazing things are happening. In Zimbabwe, the data was translated into a robust protocol for national action. In Swaziland, the data helped get new laws passed to protect children and to fight gender-based violence. They’ve trained justices, set up child-friendly courts and are working on onestop centers for post-rape care for children. Tanzania has done an absolutely phenomenal job in developing a national action plan and holding different government ministries accountable. They’re setting up child protection systems at district levels, so that people in education, police, social work, health and justice can work together. There are three key principles at the heart of Together for Girls’ success. The first is finding efficiencies. We know that multiple sectors have a role in violence prevention. So we engage with each of these sectors—injecting the issue of violence prevention and response into existing platforms and programs such as the educational and financial systems. For example, teachers and those who run microfinance programs that lend money to women, can play a role in violence
prevention. Every sector has a role to play. The second principle that we apply—and it’s based on experience—is acknowledging that governments can’t solve this issue alone. While we encourage national and local government ownership of this issue, we know that educated, enlightened and engaged communities play an invaluable role both in changing the social norms that make violence possible as well as in holding governments accountable for progress. The third key principle is engaging the children themselves. Children need to know that violence and sexual violence are not normal, shouldn’t be happening and that there are ways they can protect themselves and places they can go if there is a problem. RH: What are the main drivers of sexual violence against young people? MMK: There are two things that are critical in the thinking about violence. One is based on gender norms that allow men to believe they are superior to women. The second is considering violence itself as a norm—meaning that when you are angry or frustrated you think it’s acceptable to yell, hit, beat or rape. In many cultures, an acceptable way to discipline your child is to hit them; that sets up a cycle of violence. Research has also established that if you’ve experienced violence as a child, you’re much more likely either to experience or to perpetrate violence as an adult. We’re learning that emotional and physical violence can be as damaging as sexual violence in terms of long-term emotional stability and health. There’s a fair amount of data from the U.S. and other countries that shows that even witnessing violence between your parents is really a problem. Pediatricians can actually look at brain scans of children who experienced chronic stress as a result of being exposed to violence and those who haven’t and see enormous differences—and those changes have a major impact on emotional well-being and development. It’s helpful to recognize there’s an age in early adolescence when girls become particularly vulnerable, usually between 9-13. In many countries, these are the ages where girls’ social networks and expectations begin to change and the girls who get to go to secondary school get divvied out from those who don’t, yet, few programs address that age group of high vulnerability. And some of these children are even more at risk, for example, those who don’t have parents, are not in school, are living on the street or who have an intellectual or physical disability. We need to be sure our programs and investments are reaching the most vulnerable children—even though they are often the hardest to reach.
RH: What would you say to a survivor of violence about the importance of reporting the crime? MMK: Three things. Number one: disclosure can really help the individual get through such an experience. Most of the research shows that if you disclose your experience of violence it contributes to your emotional healing. Many empowered by disclosure get directly involved in protecting others from violence. Being a victim of violence can make you feel you’ve lost your power; disclosure helps you recapture it. Violence is all about power. And that’s why you see a lot of people who’ve experienced it go on to perpetrate; because that’s what they know about how to “get” power. I really love the concept of moving from victim, to surviving to thriving! Number two: reporting the violence is an active form of prevention. We hope whomever experiences violence talks to someone about it and reports the incident to the appropriate authorities to get the support and services they need. This can range from talking to parents about bullying to engaging police in investigating abuse so that the system of support can get engaged. Of course, we realize that in many parts of the world that’s not a viable option—but progress is being made. I was really thrilled to see that in Tanzania (because they’ve gotten the police and social workers together) they’ve been able to increase the number of cases that move towards a magistrate and get resolution. I have dedicated a large part of my career to fighting the HIV epidemic. We learned much from fighting HIV/AIDS that is so relevant to this issue. As a result, we now have the tools, resources and know-how to take on something as difficult and sensitive as the global epidemic of violence against children. For example, we discovered with HIV that when people were aware there was life-saving treatment, they were more willing to get tested and connect to care. And, they were more willing to disclose. All of these things contributed to prevention efforts and the reduction of stigma. When people know there’s help for those who have been sexually abused, they are also more likely to come forward for help and more likely to disclose, both of which help break the cycle of violence and reduce the stigma surrounding it. And number three—and this is absolutely, 100 percent important and a thing every person on the planet should know: if you or a child you know has been raped, if you go to a health center and get antiretroviral AIDS medications as soon as possible within 72-hours (a practice known as “PEP” for “postexposure prophylaxis”), you have the potential to prevent HIV infection. Everyone should know the location of the nearest health clinic capable of providing anti-retroviral medications. Getting HIV on top of experiencing this horrifying experience is a travesty that just shouldn’t have to happen. 62 Safe. Issue I
RH: Is believing action will be taken a driver of people’s willingness to disclose? MMK: Yes. Implementing the laws is key. It’s one thing to have the right legal framework but it needs to be enforced. For example, female genital mutilation and cutting is illegal in Egypt. However, around 80 percent of women and girls have been cut. And the primary cutters are doctors. Having the law on the books means little unless it is embraced. Fortunately, many countries in the world have systems and structures in place that make it possible to enforce the laws. In order to solve this really complicated issue, you have to have a multi-pronged approach. You need to rely on a comprehensive system and for that you need the government. It is the responsibility of government to have an effective police force and justice system. At the same time, you need a very aware community that knows that this stuff is wrong and that if you do break the law there will be consequences. RH: Lately, we’re seeing more press coverage of sexual violence and people seem to be rising up against it. Is the current Zeitgeist primed to stop violence? MMK: It’s a time of tremendous opportunity. The recent events that happened in Morocco, in India, Steubenville, to name just a few, have raised the profile of this issue and punctuated the fact that, as CDC reports, an estimated one billion children experience abuse each year. Now I know that’s bigger than just the issue of sexual abuse. But think about that. It puts the scale of every other epidemic to shame. I often say, and I truly feel, that if sexual violence or violence against children was an infectious disease, the response would be entirely different. When there are outbreaks of new viruses, the greatest minds are called to engage all the technical, government and community resources needed to address the issue. We have not seen that kind of response yet to violence against children. A world where a billion children suffer violence is not the world that most people want to live in. I understand the shame and stigma keep many silent but as long as we turn away from the problem, it will continue. The data attaches hard numbers to the scale of the problem, and illustrating how bad it is helps. My feeling, not documented by data, is that a significant percentage of violence toward children could be eliminated immediately if we simply make people aware of the problem, teach parents alternative forms of discipline and reinforce positive societal values connected to the rights of women and girls. RH: How important is it to engage men in the solutions to violence? MMK: They’re key gatekeepers, help define social norms and represent the other half of the population of the planet. They
are also vulnerable themselves. Therefore, we must engage men and boys fully in the response. We do have to be careful, however, when we talk about engaging men and boys that we make sure doing so doesn’t take resources away from efforts linked to girls. Girls really are hardest to reach, most disadvantaged and have the least amount of resources dedicated to them. UNICEF recently released an absolutely phenomenal report on female genital mutilation and cutting. In it, there’s a fascinating section illustrating why mothers who disagree with female genital cutting get their girls cut anyway. It has to do with believing adhering to social norms protects their girls. They think their girls won’t be able to be married without it. An interesting point of the report is that women and men had similar views (about stopping FGM) but weren’t sharing them. The women thought that the men wanted the girls to be cut but the men didn’t. There can be a similar motivation attached to child marriage sometimes. Some parents think their girls will be safer if they’re married (even as children) than if they’re not. In order to change social norms, men and women need to sit down and talk to each other. Successful programs also involve teaching parents to talk to their children about topics they might find difficult. Our Swaziland study showed that having a strong relationship with your mother helped prevent violence. Communication and dialogue are key. RH: What about the role of faith-based organizations in the fight? MMK: It’s also significant. In many countries and communities, faith is a large determinant and promoter of social norms. The faith community can play a major role in prevention and response. Throughout the global faith community, we have seen examples of people being perpetrators themselves as well as being willing to protect perpetrators in their midst. Both things are in direct opposition to the tenets of many faiths. The Catholic Church is among the most notable offender, but hardly the only one. At the same time, we are fortunate to have a number of great coalitions and leaders in the faith community willing to take on this issue and who are leveraging their own infrastructures to help keep children safe. For example, certain Christian coalitions are developing bible studies curriculum and other tools for the clergy to educate their followers about gender equality and violence prevention as well as how to respond to this issue within their own congregations. RH: How optimistic are you that we can y end the pandemic of violence against children? MMK: I’m hugely optimistic. We all want the same things. We want a world where our children are healthy, safe, valued and loved and have the opportunity to grow up and be the people we know they can be. I think we also all want to live in a violence-free world. It may seem a ridiculously naïve goal. But I truly believe we can make steps in that direction.
photo by Sandie Taylor
photo by Kenneth Greenberg
The shame and stigma keep many silent. But as long as we turn away from the problem it will continue. photo courtesy of UNAIDS
Tanzania Takes Charge Anna Maembe, Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Community Development, Gender and Children in Tanzania, shares how her country is leading the global fight against violence against children by capturing shocking statistics— and responding with an action plan that is already saving precious lives.
Tanzania was the first African nation to survey the rates of mental, physical and sexual violence suffered by their young girls and boys. The Tanzanian Violence Against Children Survey (TVACS) supported by Together for Girls employed more than 120 interviewers to talk with 3,739 girls and boys 13-24 in their homes, with the consent of their parents. The survey was published in August 2011 by Dar es Salaam’s Muhimbili University for Health and Allied Sciences in collaboration with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—it found that almost three-fourths of the children had experienced physical violence administered by an adult or intimate partner by the age of 18. And nearly three out of every 10 girls and more than one out of every 10 boys in Tanzania had experienced sexual violence. Rather than try to suppress the shocking stats, Tanzania’s leadership stepped up, embraced the issue and responded with a country wide approach that addressed the incidents of emotional, physical and sexual abuse in ways that ensured the children who were helped remained healthy and safe. Safe spoke with Anna Maembe, Tanzania’s Deputy Permanent Secretary, about her country’s response and what her minis64 Safe. Issue I
try—responsible for examining policy and issues related to children and gender development—is doing to address the problem. Safe: How did your nation first decide to examine and fight violence against its children? Anna Maembe: In 2006, the Secretary-General of the United Nations published a global report looking at violence against children; one of the resolutions resulting from the report was to have all UN member states examine the issue within their borders. Our ministry is mandated to look at issues related to gender and at all policies affecting children, especially the Act of the Law of the Child—a law passed in 2009 which addresses the violation of children’s rights. So, in 2009, we commissioned a study to explore issues related to violence against children in the United Republic of Tanzania, which includes Zanzibar. We approached UNICEF and the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention to fund our work and to provide technical assistance. Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences undertook this study. To help implement it, my ministry formed a multi-sector task force composed of
Tanzania’s government has stepped up to protect its children from sexual violence >
photo by Sandie taylor
photo by Sandie Taylor
Tanzaniaâ€™s action plan calls on leaders from various sectors of government, law enforcement, education and social affairs to work together.
different government ministries, NGOs and the developmental partners (like UNICEF). One of the things the task force was particularly concerned about was the ethical considerations of conducting such a study. As you can imagine, we wanted a child-centered approach that would not further victimize children who had experienced violence. The study was designed to address the violence that had happened as well as to prevent any further trauma to those we interviewed. The research took two years. It was released in August of 2011. Safe: Was the government supportive of the survey happening? AM: There were a number of challenges, but the representatives of the multi-sector task force had already addressed them by going to the necessary sector in the government and clearing them before we began. In terms of data collection, there was the issue of ensuring that parents would accept that their children be interviewed. We met with parents and worked with local services to get agreement. We also had to make sure the government was comfortable with all the ethical issues. Because the nature of the study was a bit sensitive, we used a medical approach. The overall study was positioned as one focused on medical issues, and diseases, such as HIV/AIDS. This approach offered a good entry point for talking about 66 Safe. Issue I
violence. When we talk about violence, we are talking about sexual, physical and psychological (such as calling a child bad names or making them feel not wanted and so on). To get the most complete data, you need to make the interviewee comfortable as well as the guardian or parent. Safe: Did you have good success getting the children to open up? AM: We did. We had to make people feel that the study was important and that their contributions would help others; we had to assure them that their comments would remain private and that the study would not publicly disclose their identity. It took time. The training included teaching interviewers how to make the parents, guardians and the children themselves comfortable. The interviewers had to be very culturally sensitive to be able to work in different environments. For example, in Zanzibar, there were religious issues to consider. We used women to interview girls and men to interview boys. About 98 percent of our sample agreed to be interviewed. Safe: Was there anything that really surprised you about the results of the study? AM: Yes, the results were really challenging. There are very high levels of sexual, physical and psychological violence
against children in Tanzania. Very upsetting is the fact that violence happens often at home and in schools—places where children are supposed to be safe. Another very striking thing revealed by the study was that the very areas where you expected children to be protected are the same areas where the children are affected. Neighbors, relatives, teachers and even policemen are the perpetrators of the problem. These are the people who have authority over the children. Safe: If the very people who are supposed to protect them are hurting them, it must be so hard for a child to believe they can seek safety with adults… AM: That is the challenge. And not only that, sometimes they are threatened by a weapon. In Tanzania, we didn’t expect to see that the violence had risen to a level where children were being threatened with being shot or killed. Safe: What was the government’s response when they saw the numbers? AM: In the beginning, they said, “No, no, no that can’t be true.” But we called in the researchers who persuaded them to look at the figures. The government came to believe the data. The fact that we actually talked to the children helped convince national and state government, NGOs and faith-based organizations that the problem was real. They said, “Really, we have a problem. If this is the case, then something must be done.” The data gave us legitimacy and gave us strength to say: now, we must come up with a plan.
The plan was put into place in June 2012. The most important thing that came out of the planning was that those sectors that had the least experience dealing with violence against children were the very first to craft their piece of the plan—sectors like the police and the justice system. As a result, for example, if a girl or boy went to the police station and complained of violence, they would get preferential, private treatment that would help make them feel comfortable to explain their ordeal, to give the name of the person or people who did it and to describe the place where it happened. There were also changes made to the manual that was used to teach service men and women in police colleges how to handle these cases. As a result, we’re getting a lot more reports of violence from police stations. One of the goals of my ministry is to teach police the As, Bs and Cs of child psychology so they can better help children, and to build the capacity of the police force to help end violence.
There was a sense before that sharing these stories was very shameful, people would advise others not to go to the police, but that is changing; now the truth is starting to come out.
The UN Deputy Secretary General at the time, Dr. Asha-Rose Migiro, who is Tanzanian, attended the launch of the report. That gave it a very high profile in the country. There were a lot of ministers and a lot of parliament representatives present, too. She articulated our mission very well, saying this is what we are doing to our children and this is very bad. That we depend on them as the future of our nation, so how can we do this to them? The support of the government lent legitimacy to our plan of action. Safe: What steps were taken after the data was released? AM: The multi-sector task force came up with a one-yearplan for different stakeholders to implement. Ministers of education, health and welfare, justice as well as the police and prisons…people from each of the areas that touch children’ lives got engaged.
Additionally, the guidelines governing juvenile justice have been adjusted to accommodate violence against children. The Minister of Justice is focused on how to identify children in their jurisdiction who have been subjected to violence. We have reviewed the code of ethics for teachers in school and in each school at least one teacher is assigned to help with children who other teachers identify as “not normal.” This special teacher is trained to ask questions about violence.
And finally, in my ministry, we have issued the number of a child help line—116—that children can call if they are experiencing violence or want to report any threats. It’s in five districts now. But we expect to scale it up to the whole country. It’s not easy because it’s costly. We’re looking for private sector partners to open child help lines in different parts of the country. NGOs are being very helpful doing advocacy at the grassroots level in schools and with families. They are using the data to say “this is the situation” and to help spread the word that violence against children should not be accepted. Safe: How do you get the word out about your work? AM: Having the results is one thing. But working with different target audiences to achieve common goals is still hard. To togetherforgirls.org 67
Safe: What makes children most vulnerable to sexual violence in your country? AM: Sometimes, it stems from a societal issue like poverty. Sometimes, it’s situational. Like when a child lives very far from school; having to travel great distances alone puts them at risk. Sometimes the isolation is emotional, not physical. Sometimes parents have no time to talk to their children or no time to notice changes in their child’s behavior that could signal a problem. And sometimes people are just crazy. Imagine someone defiling a girl of five years. What does anyone get out of defiling a five-year-old girl? Safe: Whom do children tell when they have experienced violence? AM: Our data shows that boys report cases of violence to fellow boys more than girls and that girls are more likely to report to their mothers. So if a mother is not around, it becomes difficult for the girl to report. Many girls are without any relationship with a mother or with a trusted, older, female peer and therefore they are without protection and without anyone to turn to if they are hurt. It would make a big difference to have parents, guardians and the community at large “on the steering wheel.” They watch all along what happens to children and can be the first to notice something is wrong. If we could succeed in engaging parents and guardians—even neighbors—it would be wonderful for prevention and for helping children. It is important to note that most children tell no one what has happened to them. Technology and globalization expose our children to different vagaries. We need to address the very big gap between what children and parents understand about technology. Children are so conversant with phones and computers and often a parent can’t even know what a child is doing. It would be helpful for parents to understand what their children are accessing online and on their phones. Safe: If you had a group of parents before you now, what would you say to them about protecting their children from violence? AM: One, I would say, be close to your children and notice any changes in terms of behavior and if they seem uncomfortable. That is the beginning of being able to identify violence among children. If you notice changes, talk to them. Two is to 68 Safe. Issue I
make sure your kid has got something to eat. People will try to lure them with soft drinks and French fries. If they are less hungry, they can be more resistant. Safe: Can we stop the violence? AM: Yes. But we need to let people know it is wrong to do it and that if it is done, the police and the courts and the public are there to report it. People need to be made aware that there are laws to protect children and those who break them will be prosecuted. We are witnessing an increasing number of cases of people coming forward and reporting that a neighbor is abusing his or her own child. We have had a number of cases
Educating the nation’s children in Tanzania about their rights helps them understand the problem of sexual violence—and how to stop it.
address that, we’ve come up with a communications strategy to reach the various audiences. One of the most important targets is the media. In a big country, we need to use both print and electronic media to raise awareness. Our hope is that the media will take our agenda onboard and address it in their work. For example, the media can help reach children and tell them how they can be assisted [if they have experienced violence], what are their rights and so on.
that have been highlighted by the media saying that so and so has abused his own kid or that so and so was caught raping a young girl or boy and has been sentenced to 30 years in jail. There was a sense before that sharing these stories was very shameful; people would advise others not to go to the police, but that is changing; now the truth is starting to come out. Safe: Are celebrities and prominent people in your culture also speaking up about the issue? AM: We haven’t gone to them yet. We started with the media. But I think that would be a very good way of advocating more. It would be helpful for celebrities to address the youth who are among the perpetrators of violence. It would be really helpful to have celebrity survivors as they help people who are hiding to
come to understand that it is possible to recover from violence and become someone who is really important in society. That’s very crucial. I will work on that idea. Safe: Are you seeing healing in those who choose to come forward? AM: We are just beginning to address the problem in our country. The first step was getting the data, the tangible results. We can see signs of success coming, but next, we are open to learning from other countries how they began to solve the problem so we can do it, too. We have traveled to Thailand and we have groups from the UK and U.S. coming here to help explain what worked and what were their challenges. We are leaning and are
HOW TANZANIA—AND OTHER AFRICAN NATIONS—ARE WIELDING A MULTISECTOR RESPONSE TO VIOLENCE HEALTH: Child abuse screening; post-rape care Zimbabwe provides medical and psychosocial services for children who have experienced physical and/or sexual abuse. JUSTICE & POLICE: Child- and women-friendly services; legal aid Swaziland is training the justice sector on prosecuting offenders and setting up child-friendly courts. COMMUNITY: Engaging children; parenting support Swaziland is engaging religious leaders from eight major faith groups to address violence against children in their communities. EDUCATION: Training teachers; early childhood education Tanzania revised the national code of conduct for the professional ethics of teachers and drafted child protection guidelines for schools.
photo by Sandie Taylor
eager to learn more about how to improve our child protection systems at all levels and how we can use advocacy campaigns to make sure things are understood properly. What Michele [and Together for Girls] is doing here is wonderful. The donors— like USAID, UNFPA, UNWomen, UNICEF—are so helpful. The leaders of different religious groups are getting involved too saying, “This is what we’re going to do to help.” Safe: How hopeful are you that it’s going to get better? AM: We are very, very optimistic that it’s going to get better. The first step is to let people understand it is bad to abuse children. The second is to make them own the process of stopping it and get them to participate in the struggle. We need to form child protection teams in our neighborhoods and within our families. It’s only after that that we can live in harmony and protect our children.
SOCIAL SERVICES: Crisis reporting; child protection centers Zimbabwe established “places of safety,” which are temporary foster homes for homeless children, in 14 districts. FINANCE: Budgeting; resource allocation Tanzania developed guidelines for budgeting for child protection at the Local Government Authority level. CIVIL SOCIETY: Safe spaces; advocacy In Kenya, an NGO, Lwala Community Alliance, is piloting a mentorship program for girls to address issues such as early marriage and gender-based violence. togetherforgirls.org 69
© UNICEF/NYHQ2012-0740/SUSAN MARKISZ
UNICEF, a name synonymous with the well-being of children, recently launched their new “End Violence Against Children” initiative. Starring UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Liam Neeson, it aims to help resolve the crisis of violence against children by shining light on the alltoo-often-hidden horror. Geeta Rao Gupta, UNICEF’s Deputy Executive Director of Programmes, shares her thoughts with Safe Editor-in-Chief Regan Hofmann on the initiative and how it is inspiring people around the world to daylight the fact that violence occurs—and that there are effective interventions and solutions to help stop it. 70 Safe. Issue I
Regan Hofmann: Does this initiative signal a new era of response on the part of UNICEF to the issue of violence against children? Geeta Rao Gupta: Yes. Let me start by saying we chose to call it an initiative as opposed to a campaign because we wanted it to build on existing efforts against violence by UNICEF country officers and our partners while encouraging action where none was taking place. The word “campaign” would have implied it’s just a public relations or communications campaign without any action behind it. We want this initiative to call attention to the many efforts already underway and to the many more that need to happen. The message behind the initiative is that violence against children can no longer be tolerated and that it needs serious collective action not just by governments and civil society organizations but also by ordinary citizens. The way we end violence is to bring the issue from the darkness into the light, making the invisible visible.
that all the work we have done in the past has led to this moment. Vocalizing outrage is really important for getting action to happen. Growing up in India, I saw many of my girlfriends, college mates and others become victims of sexual assault (while not always the most extreme forms) on a daily basis. I experienced it, too. Being faced with always having to watch who’s behind you, who’s in front of you, where you’re walking and what you’re doing is a constant restriction on your freedom of movement.
I was blessed to be in a very supportive family and to be able to talk about it at home. I talked about it with my sister and with my friends. The phrase that was used to refer to public assault on girls was “eve teasing.” Everybody used the term. It was such a bad term, but it was the only one we had to give voice to what was happening to us. When I was in college, I reported to my principal that many of us were being harassed. Rectifying the power Of course, their response was that they would set up self-defense balance between men and classes for us. I mean, why was women requires a true it our responsibility to defend ourselves? Why shouldn’t society belief that it’s not a zero allow us the same freedoms boys sum game. That giving had?
We decided to take on this issue now to build on the immense outrage erupting around the world in response to many different attacks against children, including the shooting of Malala Yousafzai in Pakistan, the fatal shooting of 26 children and teachers in Newtown, power to women doesn’t CT in the U.S. and the gang rapes RH: Did it make you angry that you of the girls in India and in South mean that men will have were told you had to learn to defend Africa. Since then, many other inciyourself rather than hear that the less power – it means dents have occurred—including the source of the threat would be neuviolence and sexual violence against everybody has more power. tralized? children in Syria. All of these things have put violence against children GRG: Yes. I had a lot of anger. and women on the map in a big way. There’s no question about that. Because the issue is suddenly getting That anger led to the career a lot of public attention, we thought choices I made. It’s why I work on gender issues, trying to it was important to create an initiative to highlight the need change societal beliefs that have become the norm despite to do much more and to highlight all that is being done to get the fact that they lead to suffering. From a young age, I have increased support for it. always been very aware that it is the silence surrounding acts of violence that allowed them to go on. Everyone witnessed RH: What is producing the groundswell of response? Is there somethem; they happened in public. People saw them and looked thing about the current Zeitgeist that is catalyzing the action? the other way and didn’t talk about them.
GRG: I have worked on this issue for decades and it is impressive how these events today are receiving attention. People are beginning to find their voices to speak out against the violence. They are finally talking about how tragic, senseless and appalling these events are. I cannot diagnose exactly what forces led to this response, but it is amazing that it’s happening. The recent incidents of violence are receiving unprecedented media attention. Maybe that’s part of it. I’d also like to believe
RH: How do you encourage people to open up and talk about sexual violence? GRG: As I mentioned, the media helps enormously with this. It brings the issue to the attention of the community. Then, community programs must address—and discuss—violence as a consequence of fundamental gender issues. It’s also necessary to put in place the laws, services and law enforcement togetherforgirls.org 71
RH: What advice would you give to people to get engaged?
capacity to deal with it. It’s difficult to say what needs to come first, the laws or the conversations that help to get the laws in place. You need both to happen simultaneously. Another starting place for conversations is the data. As part of Together for Girls, UNICEF has conducted surveys on sexual violence against children in many countries in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. The results of the surveys—which prove how prevalent the violence is—have really helped mobilize governments to take action. In two of the first countries in which we conducted the surveys, there has been significant response from the government in the right direction.
GRG: As a citizen of any society, you should do what you can to help draw attention to incidents when they occur, help children get the kind of assistance they need and to volunteer and give your time to these kinds of initiatives. They are all worthwhile efforts. Impunity occurs when the public remains unengaged. RH: What are the most important things that need to be done if we’re to reduce the rate of violence?
GRG: The pieces we are emphasizing are: 1) putting social policies and programs in place to support parents and families to Silence [around the issue] is really tragic because it prevents care for their children in ways that promote their well-being— children from getting help when they need it. For children who that’s the most fundamental thing, and it’s especially necesaren’t helped to cope with what’s happened to them, the viosary to reach those families that are most disadvantaged, most lence has such lasting damage. Not marginalized; 2) strengthening just in terms of their emotional and children’s life skills to make them physical well-being but also in terms aware of their personal agency and of their own behavior in adulthood. of the fact that they can speak up Violence in childhood often leads It’s not that violence is and get help; 3) working to change to high-risk behavior in adulthood. social norms around the accephappening more than This, in turn, puts people at higher tance of violence and discriminarisk for sexually transmitted infecbefore. It’s just coming out tion. Those things should be unactions, especially HIV. ceptable. Norms can change. They into the open more. are not immutable. And when they RH: It seems violence begets vioThe way the media is now, cause damage to societies and have lence—either by leading people to be an economic and psychological anything that happens violent themselves or making them cost, they should change and each more vulnerable to additional acts of in any part of the world individual should know that they violence. What else drives violence? can contribute to that. We have becomes global GRG: Things we don’t talk enough some excellent programs in place about in terms of how they contribknowledge immediately. where through community diaute to violence: poverty, situations of logue, we are bringing about norconflict, emergencies, natural disasmative change around things like ter and migration—these circumgenital mutilation, other forms stances make people much more of violence and child marriage; 4) vulnerable, especially children. providing and promoting services to children who are victims of violence (and their families) to RH: What advice would you give a young child who is at risk for help those children cope with the situation so that you don’t experiencing violence? perpetuate the cycle of abuse; 5) putting the right policies and laws in place. Government does send a strong message GRG: Just speak up. Ask for protection from others around to society when it says violence is punishable by law and that you. Hopefully, children are taught in school not to feel children have a right to be protected. And finally, 6) having a ashamed if someone tries to or inflicts sexual violence against database is really important. Having the information out there them. I would say to the child, “It has nothing to do with you about how prevalent the violence is, what interventions work or anything you did. You didn’t do anything wrong.” Chiland what are the new interventions that can be put in place to dren are very quick to bear the burden of violence and to keep stop it, is all really helpful. The work that Together for Girls is quiet. They need to know they can speak to a trusted adult. doing to capture this kind of data is really useful. Hopefully, children have trusted adults around them.
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RH: What about advice for the average person, what can they do? GRG: Intervene immediately if you see violence happening. If you see an incident of child abuse or if you see someone being violent, interrupt it. It often helps. RH: What’s next for the End Violence initiative?
© UNICEF/NYHQ2011-1339/SUSAN MARKISZ
GRG: The next phase will be to highlight the solutions and actions that can be undertaken to help stop violence. This is a long-term initiative. It’s not going to stop with awarenessbuilding. We want to be able to identify and share successful prevention efforts. We want to create networks so people can connect with each other. We’re really hoping we can create a social movement to end this. About 50 countries have officially launched this initiative. Many have contextualized it to their particular circumstances, for example, using a spokesperson who works in their setting, using locally-specific messaging, and obviously using different languages. In Afghanistan, they’re going to be focused on sexual abuse of boys as well as zeroing in on child marriage. In the Caribbean region, efforts are being aligned to stop sexual abuse. They’re calling it the “Break the Silence” campaign. Jordan is going to continue their efforts to reduce violence in schools. Bangladesh is trying to provide alternatives to corporal punishment in the education system. The fact that we decentralized it and didn’t insist on using our logo or branding on it allows people to use it in ways that work for them. That’s what I love about it. It’s being individually crafted for different countries. It’s really taking off. The end goal is that we want children’s rights protected. We want children to be able to have safe—and childlike—childhoods. RH: How do we change people’s minds globally so women are as seen, and as valued, as men? GRG: The thing about it is you can’t do it from the outside. You can’t make it happen unless the people of any society begin to see the damage it is doing. Specifically, in the case of gender inequality, with new economic opportunities, much has changed. We often get really down on this issue, me
probably more than others, but it’s important to remember that a lot has changed in the last 10 years. Women are getting more economic opportunities, more girls are going to school, the perception of the female role is changing even in the most traditional societies. Change does happen. It just often doesn’t happen at the pace at which we want it to happen. The root of the problem is an imbalance of power between women and men. Rectifying that power balance requires a true belief that it’s not a zero sum game. That giving power to women doesn’t mean that men will have less power—it means that everybody has more power. We have to help more people understand that it benefits all to stop the violence and abuse against children and women because the damage it causes affects all and holds societies back. It has an economic cost and it has significant social cost. That’s the message that needs to get out there: that this is not something that’s an individual problem—it’s a societal issue. I think in India, [the issue of the importance of gender equality is] coming to the forefront. People are beginning to understand that if you want to be a global economic power, it’s shameful to have stories of abuse against children and women in your country in the public media all the time. It’s not that [violence] is happening more than before; it’s just coming out into the open more. It was never revealed before. The way the media is now, anything that happens in any part of the world becomes global knowledge immediately thanks to communications technology. It’s just more difficult to hide these things now. It is time to change. RH: Do you think we can stop the violence? GRG: I certainly hope so and we’re working with that goal in mind. This is the moment in time when we can make a big difference. We have put the entire weight of the organization behind doing something on this issue. I keep hoping the change that’s beginning to happen in so many sectors begins to take root [more widely]. I am working to ensure that young girls growing up and going to school in India don’t find it as difficult to ride on a public bus as I once did.
Safety Net Great ways to engage in the fight against sexual violence.
ovember 25, 2013 is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. It marks the start of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence—and it’s the perfect time to do your part to end sexual violence against children.
Feministe blogger Jill Filipovic said, “Violence is tragically one of the ways women around the world are united—regardless of our age, nationality, race, religion, class or culture. Our very existence as women in the world is dangerous. We may speak different languages, have different belief systems and face different and intersecting oppressions, but physical and sexual violence against women is sadly universal.” Such a global swath of pain requires women, girls, men and boys around the world to fight the violence together. Today’s technology allows us to support or join forces with 74 Safe. Issue I
groups far afield. There are many ways to engage, from personally to anonymously, daily to a one-time offer of help. You can lend your talents, time, resources, cold-hard cash or voice. You can take action in hyper localized ways; you can be a leader in your family, community, nation or you can take to the global stage. There is no limit to the impact you can have and there everything you do helps strengthen the safety net for children the world over. To inspire you, we offer the following list of organizations, movements, initiatives and campaigns. Not all focus exclusively on the elimination of sexual violence; some address the related drivers such as a lack of education, health or poverty. There are many wonderful organizations doing noteworthy work; these are but a few to get you started. Connect with us at togetherforgirls.org and let us know others we may highlight in the future.
Founded by Gucci in 2013, Chime for Change is a new global campaign designed to coalesce a community of people to promote education, health and justice for every girl, every woman, everywhere. A line used in their promotions—none of us can move forward if half of us are held back—sums up the collective, hard-charging nature of the campaign. Three notable celebrities comprise the founding committee, namely: Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, Frida Giannini and Salma Hayek Pinault, who has a long-standing passion for fighting violence against women and girls. Chime for Change focuses on raising funds and awareness and does so by asking people to share films and stories and/or engage in special projects. As their manifesto says, “Thanks to technology, women across the world have the ability to connect in ways unimaginable to those who went before us. We believe that connection empowers us.” Follow @chimeforchange; chimeforchange.org.
from BlogHer to Feministe, Momsrising.org to the National Council of Negro Women, from the National Organization for Women (NOW) and the Women’s Media Center. Follow @Fem2pt0; fem2pt0.com. The Girl Effect believes “this is the moment to make girls impossible to ignore.” Focused on the 250 million adolescent girls living in poverty, The Girl Effect is built on the premise that girls can play a crucial role in solving the most persistent development problems the world faces today. When girls are included in education, health and economic investment, they have a better chance of preventing issues such as child marriage, teen pregnancy, HIV/AIDS and for breaking the inter-generational cycle of poverty. By making girls visible and giving them the tools to change their worlds for the better, The Girl Effect is fueled by hundreds of thousands of girl champions who recognize the untapped potential of adolescent girls living in poverty. It was created by the Nike Foundation in collaboration with the NoVo Foundation, the United Nations Foundation and the Coalition for Adolescent Girls. Follow @girleffect; girleffect.org.
The Enough Project aims to end genocide and other crimes against humanity, especially in areas where some of the world’s worst atrocities occur; currently its work is focused in the Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Co-founded in 2007 by Gayle Smith (Special Assistant to the U.S. President and Senior Director at the National Security Council) and John Prendergast (American human rights activist, author and former Director for African Affairs at the U.S. National Security Council), it was launched as a project of the Center for American Progress and is led by Executive Director John Bradshaw. Actress Robin Wright (currently of “House of Cards” stardom) supports the project; she is working on a documentary based in Bukavu, a city in the eastern part of the Congo where many horrors against women—rape, gang rape and mutilation—have gone unpunished. Follow @ EnoughProject; Enoughproject.org.
Like The Girl Effect, Girl Up, as their tagline suggests, unites girls to change the world. A creation of the United Nations Foundation, led by Kathy Calvin, Girl Up offers those who engage many innovative ways to help empower young women around the world. From their Teen Advisors program to a program that offers girls access to recycled technology, from their International Day of the Girl to their Girls Count Act of 2013 that encourages young women to connect with Congress, Girl Up challenges their base of 356,024 supporters to help create a world where all girls, no matter where they live, have the opportunity to become educated, healthy, safe, counted and well positioned to be the next generation of leaders. Follow @girlup; girlup.org.
Feminism 2.0 is the brainchild of Gloria Pan, a former communications director of a media think tank, and Suzanne Turner, a veteran of women’s advocacy. Recognizing that many of the largest and most vibrant networks of women online weren’t connecting, Pan and Turner “e-introduced” them. They link many amazing women’s organizations,
Global Girl Media is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to empowering high school girls from underserved communities around the world through media, leadership and journalistic training to use their voice in the global media and to help shape their futures. It was born out of a coalition of women togetherforgirls.org 75
broadcasters and journalists from around the world who recognized that most mainstream reporting focuses primarily on flash points of violence, celebrity or disaster, largely ignoring the everyday experiences and voices of the invisible majority —particularly young women. This is real reality media, redefined and shattering stereotypes. Follow @globalgirl media; globalgirlmedia.org. The mission of The Man Up Campaign is to engage youth in a global movement to end gender-based violence and advance gender equality through programming and support of youth-led initiatives intended to transform communities, nations and the world by promoting gender equity and sensitivity among global youth and by building a community of like-minded people, initiatives and organizations. It’s co-founded by the indomitable Jimmie Briggs (who is also the executive director). Briggs, a former war correspondent, is a globally lauded human rights advocate, an author, a journalist, lecturer and educator. He’s also on the advisory committee of Chime for Change. Follow @ManUpABC; manupcampaign.org. MenEngage is a global alliance of more than 400 non-governmental organizations and UN agencies working to engage men and boys in effective ways to reduce gender inequalities and promote the health and well being of women, men and children. It’s co-chaired by Gary Barker (international director and founder of Promundo) and Dean Peacock (co-founder and executive director of the Sonke Gender Justice Network)—two leaders in the movement to involve men and boys in the solutions to violence. Follow @MenEngage; menengage.org. Plan International’s Because I Am a Girl campaign brings together girls, communities, traditional leaders, governments, global institution and the private sector to address the barriers that prevent girls from completing their education. The campaign aims to reach 4 million girls directly, improving their lives with access to school, skills, livelihoods and protection. It intends to touch the lives of 40 million girls and boys indirectly through its gender programs and support 400 million girls through policy change. Among the campaign’s goals are putting an end to child marriage and to gender-based violence in and around schools. Follow @planglobal; plan-international.org/girls. 76 Safe. Issue I
Stop Rape Now is latest campaign of the United Nations’ Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict (UN Action). It unites the work of 13 UN entities around the goal of ending sexual violence in conflict. It’s a concerted effort by the UN to improve coordination and accountability, amplify programming and advocacy and support national efforts to prevent sexual violence and to respond effectively to the needs of survivors. Those dedicated to stopping the use of rape as a weapon of war are “getting cross”—taking pictures of themselves with crossed arms and spreading the symbol—and its meaning: stop rape now—around the world. UN Ambassadors Nicole Kidman and Charlize Theron are among the notable celebrities supporting the campaign. Both have solid histories on the issue and are powerful, outspoken advocates. Follow @UNAction; stoprapenow.org.
UNICEF’s new End Violence initiative is designed to help illuminate the largely invisible pandemic of violence against children and by doing so, protect children from violence, exploitation and abuse. UNICEF Ambassador Liam Neeson stars in the bold campaign that is being used around the world to help “make the invisible visible.” Follow #ENDViolence; Unicef.org/endviolence. V-Day, founded by the one-and-only Eve Ensler, is a global movement of grassroots activists dedicated to ending violence against women and girls. Celebrated on February 14, V-Day promotes the “1 Billion Rising for Justice” campaign that calls people to refuse to stand by as more than one billion women and girls experience violence around the world. V-Day has as its vision a world where women live safely and freely; it demands an end to rape, incest, battery, genital mutilation and sexual slavery; its spirit is fueled by the belief that women should spend their lives creating and thriving rather than surviving or recovering from terrible atrocities. It aims to raise money and consciousness to unify and strengthen existing anti-violence efforts by supporting local activists in producing benefit performances of Ensler’s award-winning play, The Vagina Monologues and other creative vehicles such as I Am an Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World, a new play tied to a youth-focused effort known as “V-Girls.” Proceeds from the performances are invested in local antiviolence activities. Follow @VDay; vday.org.
Half the Sky In 2009, journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn published a widely acclaimed best-selling book, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity. They had taken on what they felt to be moral challenge of the century—the fight to end the oppression of women and girls worldwide— and they asked their readers to do the same. Since then, the book has become a global movement by the same name, working to amplify the book’s impact. As their website says, “Ignited by a high-profile national television event and fueled by innovative multi-platform initiatives, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide is galvanizing even more people to join the burgeoning movement for change.” Follow them @Half and visit their website at www.halftheskymovement.org/. Orange Day, UNiTE In July of 2012, the UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign proclaimed every 25th of the month as Orange Day. Initiated and led by the UNiTE campaign Global Youth Network, worldwide activities implemented on this day by UN country offices and civil society organizations strive to highlight issues relevant to preventing and ending violence against women and girls, not only once a year—on the 25th of November (the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women)—but every month. Learn more here: http:// saynotoviolence.org. Acalltomen.org. A call to men works to create a world where all men and boys are loving and respectful and all women and girls are valued and safe. Notably, this U.S.-based organization has teamed up with NFL players and other leading sports figures to assemble more than 1,000 sports coaches nation-wide from middle schools, high schools, colleges and universities at the ground breaking “A Call to Coaches” event at which coaches worked with athletes, youth advocates, mentors and community leaders to explore how sports stars and coaches could help encourage gender equality, respect for women—and by doing so, reduce violence against women. It is led by two fantastic men in this field: Ted Bunch and Tony Porter, both of whom label themselves as “educator, activist and lecturer.” We’d add “hero.”
Ways to get personally involved in the stand against sexual violence: • Inform yourself. Learn how the issue is impacting your local community, your province or state, your nation and the world. • Inform your children/the young people in your extended family that violence is a real and present danger. Teach children what “bullying” means and encourage them to confide in you if they feel threatened or have experienced violence. Let them know that you are a resource and that you can help them. • Volunteer at, or donate to, a local or national rape crisis, suicide or teen-dating violence hotline. • Support a domestic violence shelter. • Become a mentor to a young person through a big sister or big brother program. • Speak up and/or step in if you witness violence or abuse. If you see an adult abusing a child, intervene if appropriate or contact the relevant authorities. If you hear your neighbors fighting, ring their door bell. Often, interruption of an incident of violence can stop it. • Share your story. If you are a survivor of sexual violence, disclosing your story can provide powerful testimony that helps others seek care and support. • Refuse to participate in bullying, either on or offline. • Become an engaged activist. Write an op-ed for a local paper, or write to your political representatives if you feel policy or legislative action must be taken. • Talk to the leadership in your community (including faith based leaders) to ensure they are aware of the issue; encourage them to become an informed resource for their community. • Join any of the campaignS here and the many others offering similar support and services. togetherforgirls.org 77
photo by Charlotte Raymond
I think the world has reached a cumulative ‘I’ve had enough’ moment [when it comes to tolerating sexual violence]. Interpersonal violence has gone undiscussed and undisclosed for so long. It is time to make the invisible visible. This isn’t a developed versus undeveloped country problem. This is a universal problem. Children have enormous capacity and resilience. But there are certain things children should never need to protect themselves None of this from. An idea that infuses our work all of this is is that none of this is inevitable; all of it is preventable. Too often people think things like, ‘Women are raped in India, that’s just the way it is, oh well, on we go.’ That’s not right. We have to challenge social norms like these. Doing so depends a lot on local leaders, the faith-based communities and people like sports stars and other role models who influence what
is considered ‘normal.’ Now that we are talking publicly about sexual violence against children, I am optimistic that we can engage a wider group of changemakers. We must keep this conversation going about how best to keep children safe, focusing on a range of tactics from empowering them to protect themselves to establishing legal frameworks and resources [to protect them]. The three things we need to accelerate is inevitable; progress are: 1) a garnering of huge preventable. political will around this issue, 2) the understanding that the cost of inaction is extreme and 3) empowered youth—young people who are able to live their lives free from violence. It may sound Pollyannaish but stopping violence against children is doable. The resources are there and the science is there. The key is changing people’s mindsets so that they no longer accept that this is just the way it is.
—Susan Bissell, Chief of Child Protection, Programme Division, UNICEF and Together for Girls Leadership Council Member 78 Safe. Issue I