Women and safety: Threats and perceptions

The safety of women is crucial to building inclusive cities. Women all over the developing world face harassment, threats, and abuse on a daily basis. The brutal gang-rape of a young medical student in New Delhi last December ignited India, and the rest of the world, leading to mass protests for women's rights and demands for safer cities for all. The following articles demonstrate solutions that can help women facing violence on the streets, while using sanitation facilities, on public transportation, and in their homes. Read on to see examples from Dhaka (in English and Bengali), Cairo (in Arabic and English), Lagos, Nairobi, Mumbai, Jakarta (in Indonesian), Mexico City (in Spanish), and Rio de Janeiro (in Portuguese and English) — then join the conversation below.

 

Howaida Kamel, Cairo Community ManagerBeit Hawa: Cairo's first comprehensive women's shelter

Howaida Kamel, Cairo Community Manager

It is certainly difficult to walk in the streets of Cairo as a woman without being catcalled at least once. But lewd comments are the least threatening form of sexual assault that occurs. According to the Survey of Young People in Egypt (SYPE), almost 44 percent of all females have experienced sexual harassment, with the highest prevalence in urban areas. Moreover, reports have shown that cases of gender-based violence have become more common since the revolution. This increase has been attributed to the dilapidation of state security forces and the emancipation of the general public from the previously oppressive police force.

The issue of violence against women in Egypt, however, is deeply rooted in public opinion on gender roles. SYPE also showed that attitudes from both men and women tend to more conservative gender roles; the majority opinion approves of domestic battery of women in certain situations and believes that women who dress provocatively deserve to be sexually harassed. The latest report from Amnesty International addresses the nature of gender-based violence that has occurred in Tahrir Square itself. Their solution to the issue calls for the immediate public condemnation of all forms of sexual violence and gender-based discrimination, ensured investigation and prosecution of violators, and ensured access to proper medical and psychological services for victims and their families.

The Association for the Development and Enhancement of Women (ADEW) is the oldest women's NGO working in low-income areas in Cairo. Their studies estimate that approximately 96 percent of women who live in low-income areas have experienced some sort of physical or sexual violence within their own homes. To address these issues ADEW initiated Beit Hawa, the first women's shelter of its kind in Cairo.

This six-story house on the outskirts of the city provides a communal space for women and children who face violence in their homes. The exact location of the house is kept a secret so that residents remain in a safe environment and are not threatened by family members or other perpetrators. To register, women must directly contact the ADEW headquarters in Al Manial and then are driven in a minibus to the safe haven.

The Beit Hawa program also provides psychological and financial counseling, legal assistance, empowerment seminars, and skills training for the residents to help them establish their own livelihoods and to work past the trauma they have faced. Moreover, ADEW provides these women access to their literacy and health programs as well as access to micro-loans for their own entrepreneurial, income-generating activities.

What also differentiates Beit Hawa from other women's shelters in Cairo is that the women are given a certificate to prove to their families their whereabouts. This is to provide women with documentation against any immoral behavior they may be charged with while seeking shelter. Beit Hawa provides refuge for all women, no matter their origin or religious beliefs.

Despite the comprehensive, novel approach taken by Beit Hawa, there have been times since its opening in 2006 that the house has been closed due to lack of both financing and tenants. The culture of silence that surrounds violence against women often discourages women from seeking help. While changing the social structures that these women live in seems like a daunting task, providing assistance to victims in the manner that Beit Hawa does seems to be a good place to start.

Howaida Kamel, Cairo Community Manager

بيت حواء : أول منظمة نسوية متكاملة لحماية النساء في القاهرة

هويدا كامل - مديرة وحدة القاهرة

من الشائع أن تتلقى المرأة المصرية بتعليقات سلبية وألفاظ بذيئة حينما تتجول في شوارع القاهرة, وقد تصاب السيدات بعدة أنواع من التحرش أكثر جلف من هذه التعليقات. يبلغ عدد النساء المصرية التي تعرضت للتحرش الجنسي حوالي٤٤ في المئة من مجموع الاناث في مصر وفقاً لتقرير(Survey of the Young People in Egypt | SYPE) ، و قد ترتفع هذه النسبة بشكل مفاجئ في المناطق المدنية. أظهرت تقارير(National Public Radio | NPR) أيضا أن حالات العنف ضد المرأة ازدادت بشكل واضح منذ ثورة ٢٥ يناير, ويعزى هذا الارتفاع إلى اندثار قوات أمن الدولة التي كانت تقمع الشعب

تنجم مسألة العنف ضد المرأة في مصر من الرأي العام نحو أدوار الجنسين. أظهر بيان (SYPE) أن معظم الرجال والنساء في مصر يفكرون بطريقة تقليدية و يعيشون حياة متحفظة. كثير من الرجال يوافقون على ان ضرب السيدات مقبول في بعض الحالات، و
أن المرأة التي ترتدي ثيابا مكشوف أوغير شرعي تستحق أن تتعرض للتحرش. يتناول آخر تقرير نشرته منظمة العفو الدولية (Amnesty International) مشكلة العنف القائم ضد الاناث في ميدان التحرير, وفيه دعت المنظمة لإدانة جميع أشكال التحرش الجنسي فورا, وطالبت بالتحقيق مع أي مخالف, و توفير الخدمات الطبية والنفسية لضحايا التحرش و أسرهم.

جمعية تطوير وتعزيز المرأة (Association for the Development and Enhancement of Women | ADEW) من أقدم المنظمات النسائية غير الحكومية العاملة في المناطق العشوائية والأحياء الفقيرة بالقاهرة . يشير تقريرهم بأن حوالي ٩٦٪ من النساء التي تعيش في هذه المناطق الفقيرة قد شهدوا نوعا من العنف أو التحرش الجنسي داخل منازلهم, و لمعالجة هذه القضايا انشأت (ADEW) المنظمة النسوية الأولى بالقاهرة: بيت حواء٠ (Beit Hawa)

هذا البيت المكون من ستة طوابق يوفر مكان إجتماعي لإعطاء النساء والأطفال الذين يواجهون العنف في منازلهم الفرصة للتواصل مع بعضهم دون قلق أو خوف. الموقع المحدد للمنزل يزال سراً بحيث يبقى السكان في بيئة آمنة دون أن يهددوا من أفراد اسرتهم أو جناة آخرين. إذا ارادت أي فتاه أن تنضم لهذه الجمعية، يجب عليها أن تتصل مباشرةً بمقر(ADEW) في المنيل, وثم يتم نقلها إلى مكان آمن.

يوفر برنامج بيت حواء استشارات نفسية، مالية، وقانونية، وندوات لتدريب ومعالجة السكان. كما تشجع منظمة (ADEW) هؤلاء السيدات بالمشاركة في برامج محو الأمية, وتساعدهم في الحصول على الرعاية الصحية وعلى قروض متناهية الصغر لإطلاق أنشطة الأعمال الريادية الحرة التي تولد الدخل.

ما يميز ملجأ (Beit Hawa) عن ملاجئ النساء الأخرى في القاهرة هو اعطائه شهادة إثبات لكل مرأة بحيث يكن عندها دليل على مكان وجودها إذا ارادت أسرتها أن تستفسرعنها, أو إذا رغب أحد اصدقاءها أن يطمئن عليها .أيضاً تحمي هذه الوثيقة السكان من أي تهم باطلة تدعي أنهم تصرفوا بطريقة غير اخلاقية أثناء غيابهم .أخيراً توفر جمعية بيت حواء ملاذا لجميع النساء بغض النظر عن أوضاعهم الاجتماعية وعقائدهم الدينية, مما يجعلها منظمة إنسانية جميلة لا تضطهد أي انسان.

على الرغم من المنهج المتميز والمتقدم التي اتخذته جمعية (Beit Hawa), تم غلق مبناهم عدة مرات منذ افتتاحه في عام ٢٠٠٦, بسبب نقص في الموارد المالية و وجود أعداد ضئيلة من المستأجرين. كثير من الأحيان يحدث هذا العجز بسبب عادة الصمت ضد أعمال العنف التي تثبط عزيمة السيدات من طلب المساعدة. من الصعب أن تقوم جمعية بيت حواء بتغيير الهيكل الاجتماعي الذي يعيش فيه هؤلاء الاناث ، فإنها مهمة عسيرة جداً، ولكن تقديم المساعدة لضحايا التحرش والاغتصاب هي بداية طيبة لحل هذه المسألة.

Victoria Okoye, Lagos Community ManagerLinking gender concerns to urban sanitation improvements

Victoria Okoye, Lagos Community Manager

In the area of sanitation, access to improved facilities, expanding women's management and planning opportunities and improving women's safety and security are inextricably linked. For example, for women working in the market, commuting between destinations or even for young girls in school, gender concerns limit their access to finding and accessing private spaces to go to the toilet.

An October 2012 poll of 500 female residents on their sanitation and safety concerns in the slum communities of Ajegunle, Ijora Badia, Oko Agbon and Otto-Oyingbo sets the scene: two out of every five women said they lack access to sanitation facilities. They develop their own, informal solutions, relieving themselves outside, and in the open, such as behind buildings, in open drains, or off roadways.

Over half of the women affirmed that they avoid using public toilets at certain times to avoid any perceived danger. In these spaces, like in open areas, they have to share facilities with men. The lack of privacy makes them vulnerable to public attention and physical and verbal abuse. Many may try to go at night under the cover of dark, but that brings its additional threats and dangers.

"My neighbor or people passing will start staring at you," said one. "And some will stare like they want to come and rape you."

For others, the harassment goes beyond perception to the real thing. Another respondent commented: "There is a day I went to the toilet and somebody flogged me from behind."

There is a strong correlation between women's sense of safety and access to private toilets, or those available in markets: 77 percent reported feeling unsafe when using public facilities, while 19 percent reported feeling unsafe when using their own private, household facilities. The women reported feeling more safe when they were able to access a toilet in their local market or on public transport than when they had to use a shared or community toilet, or use an open space.

When it comes to improving women's safety in the urban space, "public services can and must be part of the solution for making their lives safer," says Ramona Vijeyarasa of WaterAid. She points to the lack of women's participation in planning, highlighting that women have to be included not only in the as end users, but as managers and planners who work to improve sanitation access throughout the city. The women's experiences from Ajegunle and other low-income areas highlights that it's not just about having access to public services, it's about services that are planned and managed with gender considerations in mind.

In terms of waste management, the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), which manages the collection and disposal of both public and household waste, incorporates one-third female representation in its administrative and technical staff, creating employment opportunities for women, as well as breaking into a male-dominated profession of urban services. Impressed with the female staff's performance, the agency said in 2012 that it was planing to hire even more female drivers.

On the non-governmental side, a local organization is making inroads. In 2008, two women, Jife Williams and Adeola Asabia, set up MN Environmental Services, an NGO providing sanitation and hygiene services in Lagos. According to Adeola Asabia, the NGO focuses on providing sanitation solutions in low-income areas, markets and lorry parks. Their impacts have gained notoriety for their company as well as the issue of sanitation, earning them a Cartier Women's Initiative Award in 2009.

Williams and Adeola say that their end goal is to provide Lagosians with modern, clean amenities, and raise people's awareness about hygiene. As part of their business model, they hire locally from communities, engaging community members as supervisors, cleaners and security guards of the facilities that they help construct. The first public toilet MN Services developed, at New Alayabiaga Market, was constructed with separated male and female sections, with female hygiene assistants for the women's section, and male assistants for the men's section, security personnel and a supervisor to manage the facility.

Recognizing women's concerns, as well as integrating women into the solutions - at the administrative, technical and directoral levels – are integral to addressing women's safety in sanitation. Planning facilities that are separate, secure and accessible, as well as affordable are the inroads to addressing this challenge. And it seems that slowly but surely, these concerns are coming to the spotlight.

Katy Fentress, Nairobi Community ManagerTraining women from Nairobi's slums to fight sexual predators

Katy Fentress, Nairobi Community Manager

The story of the Kung Fu Grannies self-defense group in Korogocho — an impoverished neighborhood to the northeast of Nairobi in which more than 100,000 people live crammed into 1.5 square kilometers of land — first hit the news in 2009 and was an instant favorite.

The news item pressed all the right buttons: a positive story from a marginalized African slum in which elderly women, so often destined to be helpless victims, were heroes training to fight against would-be-rapists. Three years on, the story has lost none of its gloss: the evolution of the No Means No Worldwide (NMNW) program represents an ongoing success story in the fight to prevent violence against women from disadvantaged areas across Nairobi.

NMNW is a component of a Kenyan-based organization called Ujamaa that was launched ten years ago as an economic program aimed to support women who had taken orphaned children under their care. The organization was founded by two US citizens: Jake and Lee Sinclaire, in Thika (one of Nairobi's satellite towns), and was later moved to Korogocho, from where its operations are still run today.

During the course of the orphan guardian mentorship program, it became apparent that there were high rates of rape in Korogocho, especially directed towards senior women who were unable to defend themselves. Subsequent studies in the area uncovered an alarming 24 percent of girls of all ages reporting having been raped in their lifetime. Of these, the majority (84 percent) reported having been assaulted by someone they knew, with boyfriends, relatives, and neighbors coming across as the main perpetrators.

A year after NMNW began running the self-defense courses in Korogocho, a follow-up survey was conducted by the Ujamaa research team. What they discovered was that in the program's target areas, incidents of rape had decreased significantly and now stood somewhere closer to 10 percent, less than half of the original figure. By contrast, in surveyed "control schools" which had not participated in the program, incidents of rape remained unchanged over the same period of time.

The NMNW has since expanded to cover other major Nairobi slums, including: Huruma, Mathare, Dandora, Mukuru, and Kibera. According to a NMNW pamphlet, each slum area has a team of six to ten self-defense trainers, who teach six consecutive weekly classes, providing students with twelve hours of training, including at least four hours of actual physical fighting skills.

The program has also evolved in order to tackle some of the root causes of the violence. In its current conception, there are three self-defense programs: for primary school children, secondary school children, and senior citizens. In addition to this, NMNW is collaborating with an organization called Edgework Consultants in order to develop an educational curriculum that separately targets girls and boys in classroom sessions in which attitudes and preconceptions of gender roles are raised, challenged, and discussed.

Understanding what behavior is acceptable in current society, especially when many people's families come from backgrounds in which women traditionally play a more subjugated role, is key towards building responsible relationships and changing perceptions as to what is acceptable and what is not.

Although it is essential to ensure that laws are passed which protect the rights of women and that a culture of respect be promoted through education and nationwide initiatives, the NMNW program is a successful example of a grassroots approach to putting women's safety into their own hands.

Carlin Carr, Mumbai Community ManagerWhere women are welcomed

Carlin Carr, Mumbai Community Manager

The horrific gang rape of a 23-year-old in Delhi last December publicly unearthed a truth too well known among Indian women: threats to their safety are everywhere — in the home, on the streets, aboard public transportation, and in city parks. Though the Delhi case was particularly gruesome, the protests that rippled throughout India in its wake have spotlighted the everyday harassment that beleaguers women and has left activists questioning how to develop safer and more inviting cities for all.

Professor Shilpa Phadke believes the answer lies in better urban planning. In an open letter to Mumbai's administrators and transport heads, Phadke called on city leaders to promote more democratic access to public space, which is increasingly denied to women in India. Phadke, along with architect Shilpa Ranade and journalist Sameera Khan, authored Why Loiter? Women and Risk on Mumbai Streets, in which they argue that women have "the right to choose to take risks in public space without being censured for it," and that the city administrators are responsible for providing the necessary infrastructure to make their right a reality. Building off of this in her open letter, Phadke outlines four key areas to create a more egalitarian and safer city:

  • An improved public transportation network that runs 24 hours and, at night, stops in between designated stops for women, and better lighting at all waiting areas for both the buses and trains.
  • More welcoming and safer park areas that invite hawkers — who bring both lighting and more people — and remove fences. The trio's research suggests that those parks that are most accessible are also the safest.
  • An increased number of public toilets (every 500 meters) that are well lit and show "our world-class cities expect women to be out there every day, anywhere, anytime."
  • A lively city full of bars, restaurants and shops that will make everyone feel safer. While the city has been cracking down on late-night revelers, Phadke argues that these activity areas "populate the city and make it alive and therefore safer for everyone."

Connecting these dots between women's safety and good urban planning, Delhi proposed a transit-oriented development plan (TOD), which was released a few weeks after the rape incident — though the plan was in the works long before. A Mint article explains the proposal: "Transit-oriented development addresses all aspects of pedestrian safety on roads, such as better street-crossings and lighting at bus-stops. Moreover, it ensures that the entire land area around Metro stations is utilized in an optimum, multi-purpose manner, which will result in public spaces becoming more active, less secluded, and more accessible to all citizens, including women, the elderly, and children," said Ashok Bhattacharjee, director of planning at the Unified Traffic and Transportation Infrastructure (Planning and Engineering) Centre.

The potentially game-changing shift could redefine the Indian city. In a country of metropolises that have been developing infrastructure more for cars than for the majority of people who cannot even afford a taxi fare, TOD would continue a tradition of vibrant street life. As these cities strive for the elusive "world-class city" status, the street sanitizing — ridding sidewalks of hawkers — leaves dark and lonely pockets. In Mumbai's Bandra-Kurla Complex, we see the epitome of how the Indian city will look if it continues in this direction — gleaming towers with glowing signs of all the world's major banks and corporations, green lawns in a city without water, hardly a vendor in sight and streets that are essentially abandoned after corporate businesses close for the day. Few women would dare to venture the well sidewalked streets — further proof that integrated urban planning that includes street life, better infrastructure, and good lighting is an essential component to a safe city.

While government interventions continue to be deliberated and tested in pilot phases, groups such as Blank Noise are not staying quiet on the issue. The project was founded in 2003 by Jasmeen Patheja in reaction to street sexual harassment (also called "eve-teasing") as a public and participatory arts project that collects visual evidence. "The campaign asks women to tell their stories of harassment, with images of the clothes they were wearing at the time they were harassed and the place where it happened. These are published on the Blank Noise blog and on Flickr, tweeted under the hashtag #INeverAskForIt, and used by supporters as profile photos on Facebook," says the City 2.0 website. Blank Noise now exists in all major Indian cities and collects stories of women's experiences with violence and harassment from all over the world.

A recent campaign by Blank Noise, "Safe City Pledge," called on women to take pictures of their personal steps toward fighting the risks associated with their city. "I pledge to visit parks often, to take the last metro, to wear the red lipstick and to smile at everyone who passes me by," said one handwritten black-and-white sign by Noopur, a young woman in Delhi. Ensuring women's personal safety in the pledges outlined involves much-needed change in India's metropolises. Smart urban planning is one step in reorienting India's 21st-century cities, but it's not everything. Sensitizing police and teaching young boys to respect women are also essential to making urban spaces safer and more inviting for women. Only then will Noopu — and so many young women like her — be able to step on a metro line late in the night donning red lips and the outfit of her choice without fear for her safety. Only then will India be able to boast of world-class cities welcoming to all.

The Asian University for Women Writing Team, Dhaka Community ManagerSexual harassment in public transportation

Nisha Karki, Afroza Irin, Afroza Alam, and Saija Afrin, Dhaka Contributors

In crowded urban areas such as Dhaka, public transportation is essential for everyday life. Unfortunately, this public transportation has also become one of the main sites for sexual harassment, referred to as eve teasing in Bangladesh. Shanta, a university student, comments that as sexual harassment is increasing on public buses, most school and college aged girls prefer to travel in school buses instead of public buses. Some of the colleges and schools do not have their own transportation, however, forcing many girls to use taxis instead of buses; these taxis are far more costly and not affordable for everyone. Those who cannot afford taxis are forced to travel in public buses facing the threat of sexual harassment daily.

According to Democracywatch, a non-profit in Bangladesh, 56 percent of sexual harassment cases occur on public transportation. In order to address the problem of sexual harassment, the government passed the Mobile Court Act of 2009, which states "anyone convicted of sexual harassment or stalking of women will face a year in jail or a fine of about 70 dollars or both." Mobile courts will dispose of cases of sexual harassment, giving "on the spot" punishment of the criminal, a process which otherwise takes several weeks to be addressed in normal courts. As most people are unaware of this act, however, it has not been implemented effectively.

As public buses in Dhaka are usually crowded, female travelers often risk being groped when standing next to men who often "press" up against them "accidentally". Taking advantage of the crowded conditions, some men attempt to touch women intentionally. To address this issue, the government has implemented a policy requiring anywhere from four to nine seats to be reserved in public buses for female travelers. Though this government initiative is a step forward, four to nine seats are not enough for the high number of female travelers and are often taken by men who refuse to respect the policy to begin with.

Similarly, in July 2008, Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) launched five separate public buses for women in four different routes in Dhaka. The initiative taken by BRTC is admirable; however, as these buses are restricted to certain routes only, female travelers are still compelled to travel in mixed-gender public buses. If BRTC ran "women-only buses" in almost every route of Dhaka, more women could access the service, reducing female sexual harassment on public transportation.

Along with strengthening the government's initiatives, more sustainable solutions aimed at addressing the root causes of harassment are needed. Gender-sensitive education in Bengali primary schools is vital as it could help change unequal gender relations. The Bangladesh Women's Foundation explains that "engaging with males and females from a young age can foster a shift in norms, values, and attitudes towards each other and arguably promote a more inclusive and less partially structured system of social relations." If patriarchal gender relations in Bangladesh were transformed, the measures needed to protect women from sexual harassment on their daily commutes to school and work would be less pressing to begin with.

Widya Anggraini, Jakarta ContributorPerlindungan bagi perempuan korban kekerasan

Widya Anggraini, Jakarta Community Manager

The high number of domestic violence cases in Jakarta forced the government to issue a law in 2004 on the elimination of domestic violence, both to protect women and to enforce sanctions against the perpetrators. The state also established an independent commission to prevent violence against women and to protect their rights. The Mitra Perempuan Women's Crisis Center provides services to assist the victims in their physical, psychological, and social recovery process by providing counseling and legal aid. The Women's Crisis Center also runs campaigns on the eradication of violence against women and works to educate residents to prevent violence in their neighborhoods.

Jakarta sebagai kota megapolitan dianggap belum ramah terhadap perempuan. Tingginya angka kekerasan terhadap perempuan yang cenderung meningkat tiap tahunnya merupakan salah satu indikasinya. Data Komnas Perempuan menyebutkan bahwa di tahun 2011 terdapat 11.289 kasus Kekerasan Terhadap Perempuan di wilayah DKI Jakarta. Dari data tersebut, bentuk kekerasan dalam rumah tangga (KDRT) mendominasi jenis kekerasan yang terjadi terhadap perempuan. Terdapat sekitar 10.307 kasus KDRT sepanjang tahun 2011 dimana mayoritas korban adalah istri. Hal ini menunjukkan betapa perempuan merupakan kelompok paling rentan terhadap kekerasan, terutama di rumah tangga. Respon pemerintah melihat tinggi angka kekerasan terhadap perempuan adalah dengan mengeluarkan Undang-undang No.23 tahun 2004 tentang Penghapusan Kekerasan Dalam Rumah Tangga serta pembentukan Pusat Pelayanan Terpadu Pemberdayaan Perempuan dan Anak (P2TP2A) yang berfungsi memberikan perlindungan dan pemberdayaan perempuan agar terhindar dari KDRT.

Upaya Penanganan Korban Kekerasan

Maraknya kekerasan dalam rumah tangga menunjukkan betapa ketimpangan relasi gender akibat budaya patriarki masih menjadi fenomena. Kekerasan terhadap perempuan selalu menimbulkan dampak fisik, psikis maupun sosial. Luka fisik atau kehamilan yang tidak diinginkan merupakan contoh dampak fisik akibat kekerasan. Sedangkan gangguan psikis bisa berupa hilangnya rasa percaya diri, ketakutan yang berlebihan hingga depresi. Salah satu organisasi yang memiliki perhatian besar terhadap perlindungan perempuan adalah Yayasan Penghapusan Kekerasan Terhadap Perempuan 'Mitra Perempuan Women's Crisis Center' yang menyediakan konseling dan penyembuhan korban KDRT secara cuma-cuma. Mitra Perempuan secara aktif memberikan pendampingan dan advokasi terhadap masyarakat luas tentang hak perempuan dan isu kekerasan terhadap perempuan salah satunya bekerjasama dengan berbagai lembaga yang tergabung dalam CEDAW Working Group Initiative untuk memantau pelaksanaan konvensi CEDAW di Indonesia. Sementara itu sebagai upaya memperluas jangkauan kerja dan mitra yang peduli terhadap KDRT, Mitra Perempuan melakukan dialog publik dengan media massa dan kerjasama pendidikan publik contohnya mengadakan sesi berbagi informasi dengan siswa SD dan kelompok pekerja di pabrik disertai pendistribusian Informasi Praktis tentang akses korban KDRT ke Perlindungan Hukum dan Pengadilan. Lebih jauh, program pendidikan Mitra Perempuan dilakukan dengan berbagai kegiatan seperti seminar, lokakarya dan pembentukan opini publik.

Mitra Perempuan WCC menerima pengaduan dan pendampingan bagi perempuan yang mengalami kekerasan melalui konsultai secara tatap muka maupun telepon yang dijamin kerahasiaannya untuk memberi rasa aman kepada korban yang melapor. Mitra Perempuan bahkan juga menyediakan akomodasi sementara bagi korban jika dibutuhkan, serta advokasi dan dukungan secara cuma-cuma. Sasaran kerja Mitra Perempuan bukan hanya korban namun juga pelaku KDRT. Bekerjasama dengan Dirjen Pemasyarakatan Kementerian Hukum dan Hak Asasi Manusia, Mitra Perempuan menyediakan layanan konseling bagi narapidana dan tahanan laki-laki pelaku KDRT di Lembaga Pemasyarakatan.

Sementara itu untuk mengatasi kekerasan di masyarakat, Mitra Perempuan membentuk beberapa kelompok lelaki dan menyediakan modul serta pelatihan untuk mengenali dan mengatasi KDRT di komunitas mereka. Mitra Perempuan juga merekrut dan melatih sukarelawan sebagai pendamping korban kekerasan. Pelatihan ditujukan bagi relawan, pekerja sosial dan penegak hukum serta para medis guna meningkatkan wawasan tentang keadilan gender bagi perempuan.

Di awal tahun 2013 ini relawan Mitra Perempuan telah mengadakan Kampanye 16 Hari Menolak Kekerasan Terhadap Perempuan untuk menggalang kerjasama kemanusiaan dan menumbuhkan kepedulian publik untuk bersama-sama menolak kekerasan terhadap perempuan. Penyebaran informasi untuk menumbuhkan kesadaran tentang kekerasan terhadap perempuan juga dilakukan melalui penyebaran informasi dan publikasi berupa kartu pos, poster dan brosur yang dsebarluaskan secara cuma-cuma kepada masyarakat luas.

María Fernanda Carvallo, Mexico City Community ManagerTransporte público: inseguridad para mujeres en el D.F.

María Fernanda Carvallo, Mexico City Community Manager

Public transportation in Mexico City can be challenging for women: 29 percent of women have felt in danger of sexual abuse, and 15 percent have been sexually assaulted. The Mexico City government decided to implement the Atenea Program, which provides public transportation exclusively for women. This policy of developing women-only spaces has ignited an intense debate on the effectiveness of this program as a long-term solution, and on other possible alternatives, such as working with men to address the root causes of violence, and improving the criminal justice system in order to deal with perpetrators.

La inseguridad para las usuarias en el transporte público es el pan de cada día, siendo este un medio para que las mujeres se trasladen a su trabajo, escuelas, o para transportar a sus hijos, viven el riesgo de sufrir algún tipo de abuso sexual.

Jesús Sesma Suárez, integrante del Partido Verde, afirmó que 29.4 por ciento de mujeres usuarias del transporte público en el D.F. han sentido miedo a sufrir un ataque o abuso sexual, 15 por ciento de las usuarias han sido perseguidas por hombres para ser atacadas sexualmente y el 2.1 por ciento ha sufrido abuso sexual. Así mismo, la Secretaría de Transporte del Estado de México sostiene que el 42 por ciento de las mujeres son agredidas en unidades del transporte y el 86 por ciento son víctima de ataques verbales.

Ante el escenario de inseguridad el Instituto de la Mujer en el Distrito Federal (Inmujeres) diseñó el Programa Viajemos Seguras en el transporte público, el cual realiza acciones de prevención, atención y procuración de justicia por violencia sexual contra las mujeres. El programa fomenta el respeto y protección de los derechos humanos de las mujeres en su tránsito diario para garantizar el derecho a un transporte seguro y libre de violencia, así mismo promueve el acceso de las mismas a la justicia y la sanción a los agresores. En el programa participan diez dependencias del Gobierno del Distrito Federal GDF (PGJDF, SSPDF, SETRAVI, STC, RTP, Metrobús, STE, LOCATEL, INJUVEDF e Inmujeres DF) responsables de la seguridad pública, la procuración de justicia y la atención a derechos, así como el Consejo Ciudadano de Seguridad Pública y Procuración de Justicia del DF.

El programa consta de autobuses rosas exclusivos para las mujeres llamados Atenea que cubren 50 rutas de transporte, al igual que vagones exclusivos para el servicio de mujeres en la red del Metro y del Metrobus y módulos de atención para el abuso sexual a mujeres instalados en estaciones de la red del metro. Los servicios proporcionados de dichos módulos brindan atención de primer contacto en la crisis a la víctima del delito sexual, asesoría jurídica en el momento, remisión del responsable a la instancia jurídica, traslado de víctima a las Agencias de la Fiscalía Central de Investigación para Delitos Sexuales, acompañamiento de la víctima en todo el proceso de iniciación de la denuncia y seguimiento de la resolución jurídica por un abogado del Inmujeres DF.

Desde la instalación de los Autobuses Atenea en el 2008, más de 35 millones de mujeres han viajado en ellos, en promedio 23,500 al día. El programa Viajemos Seguras calcula que durante el 2012 más de 50 casos denunciaron dicho delito sexual ante los módulos de atención en el metro. Así mismo, se han generado empleos para mujeres conductoras de los Autobuses Atenea. Esta política de atención y prevención ha sido bien recibida entre las mujeres, no obstante uno de los grandes retos es lograr que las mujeres acudan a denunciar el abuso en contra de ellas, de lo contrario no se puede dar el seguimiento adecuado y construir una cultura de respeto hacia las mujeres.

A pesar del buen recibimiento de esta estrategia entre las mujeres usuarios del transporte público, dicha política del Gobierno del Distrito Federal ha sido criticada como una acción de segregación, puesto que no debería de existir transporte exclusivo para mujeres, sino más bien una política que las protegiera en el ámbito público. En este sentido, Ariadna Montiel Reyes, Directora General de la Red de Transportes de Pasajeros del Distrito Federal (RTP) afirma que el argumento es brindar un ambiente de seguridad; reconoce que el desarrollo de espacios exclusivo para mujeres no resuelve el problema pero brinda a las mujeres el acceso a una vida libre de violencia.

Por su parte, Aida Hernández, especialista en género del Centro de Investigación y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social (CIESAS), afirma que el transporte exclusivo para mujeres es resultado de generaciones de hombres que ven en la mujer a un objeto, califica de una estrategia asertiva el diseñar un espacio para mujeres, sin embargo afirma que debe de ser parte de una política integral de medidas de construcción de una política de equidad y respeto. En este sentido, acompaño a la Dra. Hernández en su opinión, esta política ha sido controversial, pero es muestra de la realidad social que se vive a diario en esta urbe capitalina; ¿qué tipo de políticas crees que deberían acompañar este proyecto para que fuera integral?

Catalina Gomez, Rio de Janeiro Community ManagerMulheres da Paz no Rio de Janeiro

Catalina Gomez, Rio de Janeiro Community Manager

As mulheres começam a desempenhar um papel cada vez mais importante na promoção da segurança pública de Rio de Janeiro. Elas estão presentes na segurança pública, trabalhando como agentes comunitários dentro do programa Mulheres da Paz.

Mulheres da Paz é o programa complementário das atividades das UPP e uma parte muito importante da segurança pública no Rio. O foco do programa é o trabalho comunitário atendendo as áreas com maior pobreza e violência da cidade. O programa é financiado pelo Ministério da Justiça e coordenado no Rio conjuntamente com a Secretaria Municipal de Desenvolvimento Social. O objetivo deste programa é a prevenção da criminalidade usando a "cidadania ativa". O papel das mulheres neste programa é acompanhar e orientar famílias vulneráveis. Elas também ajudam a mediar conflitos e facilitar o aceso dos moradores a serviços sociais públicos.

O programa iniciou em 2008, mais no inicio apresentou dificuldades relacionadas ao de suas atividades (algumas mulheres participantes precisavam ter outros trabalhos e porem não ficavam disponíveis). Mais faz um ano atrás Mulheres da Paz tornou-se novamente ativo. Recentemente tem formado 1250 moradoras de 47 comunidades do Rio, pertencentes a sete territórios considerados com altos níveis de violência e baixo índice de desenvolvimento humano, tais como: Santa Marta (Botafogo), Complexo da Penha, Acari, Vila Kennedy, Senador Camará, Cidade de Deus e Reta João XXIII (Santa Cruz).

As mulheres participantes foram treinadas durante 12 meses para atuar como agentes sociais. Em Fevereiro 2013 elas receberam seu "certificado de formação" e estão prontas para trabalhar nas suas comunidades. Os temas principais da formação incluem gênero, direitos humanos e cidadania e prevenção de violência. Para conseguir melhores resultados nesta oportunidade, todas as beneficiárias terão compromissos mensais incluindo visitas domiciliares para levantamento de demandas reprimidas de acesso a serviços públicos e encaminhamentos para a rede sócio assistencial da Prefeitura.

Ainda é cedo para confirmar os resultados positivos do programa, mais esperamos que esta iniciativa do governo com foco na comunidade seja um bom complemento das demais ações de segurança pública. Estaremos monitorando os resultados do programa para aprender de sua experiência na execução.

Comments

Just in time for International Women's Day (March 8th; http://www.internationalwomensday.com/), it's fantastic to see examples from across the globe highlighting women's shared difficulties in the urban space, but also how women are organizing at the grassroots, neighborhood, policy and organization level to make lasting changes.

I really appreciate the phrase Catalina uses to describe the work of the female community workers with the Women of Peace program -- "active citizenship." Such a simple, yet such a powerful phrase -- highlighting the fact that women indeed are equal citizens in the cities in which they live. As well, the idea of action and agency, highlighting that despite their vulnerabilities and challenges, women can -- and are -- working together to make changes. As Carlin mentions, urban planning is certainly the place to start -- by addressing how urban services have to be tailored to citizen's needs, and not just some, but all. Indeed, when cities are safer for women, they are safer for everyone overall.

Victoria, I couldn’t agree more with your comments! These articles are food for thought about the many struggles women face in their day to day across the globe; and with all the challenges ahead, there are very interesting initiatives and solutions taking place!

I think that although it is important to continue with these efforts, additional steps need to take place to stop the implicit tolerance and acceptance to violence against women all around the world; and there needs to be more clear proposals in how to stop the patters of violence. I also think that for this advocacy process, it is pivotal to involve all members of society, including men. I recognize that in most contexts this isn’t easy, but in my opinion, in order to make changes at the society level, we also need to engage them and make them part of such changes. What do you think?

Hi catalina,

couldn't agree more with your statement that men should be involved also in the process. In the case of domestic abuse in Indonesia, some organizations targeted the violence perpetrators (in jail) and to give them counseling also at the same time crate groups of men in neighborhoods level to be trained and educated to recognize and report violence act against women at community level. The first challenge of course to ensure that men has important role in advocacy process because often they reluctant to get involve but with the right approach such as through the religious leader (for indonesian case) it is possible.
Can i ask Catalina, if this program going to be replicate in other areas? and what is the challenge for that?

Thank you

widya anggraini

Yes, I agree, it is important--as Victoria mentions in her article--to involve women in the planning stages for urban projects, but cities can only be safer for women if, simultaneously, boys and men learn to respect women. There is an interesting program that launched in Mumbai called Coaching Boys into Men. It's a sports-based curriculum that encourages coaches of middle and high school age young men to focus on promoting positive behaviors and reducing disrespectful and harmful actions towards women and girls. CBIM aims to dispel messages that teach adolescent athletes that violent and disrespectful behaviors are essential ingredients for being a real man. The program was funded by the Nike Foundation and has been piloted in nearly 40 slum community schools in the city.

We all seem to be agreeing on this idea that it is important to include boys and later men in programs that help them recognise that it is important to respect women not just for women but for the good of a community as a whole.

As we have seen there are different programs in our different cities that attempt to do exactly this. Obviously different countries have different cultures with regards to women and each program will have to talk to boys in a language that they can grasp and using a discourse that is familiar to them. However my question (to no one in particular, it's just a musing) is whether everything that a boy may have learned in his "learn how to respect women" class will amount to nothing if when he comes home his father is still drunkenly beating his mother and who knows, sexually abusing his sister.

Which role models count more? The inspired men who try to step up to the task in schools or the ones that young boys see around them every day of their life? Will a two day workshop on gender respect have more impact than generations of actions that show the opposite?

It would be interesting to find out if there is any data on this subject. The NMNW program did a good job of surveying before and after self-defence class sexual attack rates in Nairobi's Korogocho. But I don't think they have conducted similar surveys on the impact of the boys awareness raising classes. Is there a ripple-on effect? Do the boys go and tell the boys who didn't attend the class that they should start treating women properly? Do boys go and lecture their dads on the evils of beating their mothers?

I wonder what it takes to really make a change in people's perceptions... it's woman's day here in Kenya but no one seems to know what woman's day is about! Going by Twitter/FB, woman's day here just seems to be a moment to say "Hey! mother, sister, daughter, wife you're so great" (now please go and cook me lunch!)

Katy Fentress
URB.IM - Nairobi Community Manager
@whatktdoes

Widya, you describe a very interesting approach. I’m not familiarized with similar work in Brazil or elsewhere, but I agree with you that for any of these initiatives to generate a positive outcome, it is very important to understand the local context and social dynamics in order to identify and work together with the subjects that can "enable social change”.

In several places in Latin America, what I have seen in recent years are massive campaigns against women’s violence involving actors, sportsmen and other figures that are potential role models for the youth. I don’t know how effective they have really been, but what I like is the direct involvement of men and the direct and EXPLICIT tone it’s used to reject violence against women. Maybe we need more of these campaigns, not as a “one shot solution”, but as part of a comprehensive strategy against violence to women.

Con respecto al transporte público exclusivo para las mujeres, es importante destacar un debate sobre si dicha política es certera pensando en los derechos de las mujeres, o si recae en una discriminación por sí misma. En cierta forma es evidencia de una realidad y un contexto inadecuado para las mujeres, en donde no hay una cultura de respeto e igualdad de los derechos; no obstante algunos críticos mencionan que no deberían de existir, puesto que sería preservar modelos en donde las mujeres siguen siendo el grupo vulnerable; por citar un ejemplo como el caso de las cuotas en los congresos legislativos. No obstante, es una triste realidad el tener que separar a las usuarias de manera que no sean agredidas ni violentadas.

Hello Maria

Thank you for your comment! Being from Dhaka I am a regular passenger in public transport, and I must say that the first reaction I had upon hearing about the buses was one of relief that I will not have to be sexually harassed in buses everyday. The second was undoubtedly one of outrage at the injustice of the entire system. Yet it goes to say that given the current circumstances I too am relieved. We have had separate seats for women for a while but there were only 9 in each bus, meaning the tenth woman has to sit elsewhere or stand. Of the two options the second is definitely worse since it increases her vulnerability.

This is definitely not a decision to throw a party over. But nearly 98% of the women in Bangladesh are sexually assaulted according to studies done last year...meaning it's the male populace in general who are the perpetrators - not particular groups of males with behavioral distinctions. This means that if we have address the issue of gender discrimination we have to give a drastic makeover to the entire society as a whole - a very long, time-consuming process that may take two or three more generations to even partially come into effect. In light of this, having separate buses to make sure we dont get sexually assaulted everyday is our best bet.

Thanks for sharing your experience and your thoughts it contributes to clarify the debate. Definetely policies must work in an integral context against violence, sexual harassment and this delictive actions from men, however I totally agree that exclusive public transport for women provides safety and relief.

I’d like to mention the issue of women’s reaction to injustice, as I believe this is an important aspect of the discussion above.

By way of illustrating this I'd like to share an experience a couple of years back, when I was beaten because I dared to ask why somebody called me a whore. He was just a random guy approaching me and my friends on a nighttime street in Sweden. He pointed at me and my two friends in turn, saying “you’re a whore”. When I asked him why, he punched me hard in the face.
The thing was not the beating (I hit him back). What surprised me was the reactions of my friends.
We were three people against him and his friend and his friend was not joining in. But neither were mine. They just stood next to me while he beat me, completely paralyzed.

I’ve met the same reaction many times in different forms. It always boils down to the same thing: something is being done to you against your will and when you react people hush you down “for your own good”. The number of times I’ve heard “but what if he was dangerous, what if he had a knife” when I’ve told a man to fuck off when he grabs me in the subway. What if I’m dangerous? What if I have a knife?

I argue that we need to have a discussion on this reaction of freezing up, this learned helplessness. Women are conditioned to be suborderly in the face of injustice, taking it silently and forgiving all (“he’s a nice guy really, he only beats me on Thursday’s”). Our role is associated with being compassionate. But if we do not react when injustice is done to us, how will the people committing this injustice know that their actions have consequences?

It seems like a very convenient method of keeping women in their place, to not encourage speaking up when injustice is done to us. Keep silent “for our own good”. Claiming we are the weaker sex, who need to be careful. Imagine the same thing happening to a man, would he just have walked away, would his friends stood idly by?

I am not propagating violence as a response to injustice, I’m am merely suggesting reaction.

I went to the police and reported what had happened. They told me there had been a similar incident the same night. Two men had walked up to a woman. One of them said to the other “look, she can’t do anything”, and punched her. True story.

On International Women’s Day they handed out roses at my job in Nairobi, and “congratulated” me for being a woman. In Swedish media, as happened on many previous International Women’s days, there was a flood of comments on why you should not congratulate someone on this day. One of the more provocative tweets being “Don’t say “congratulations” to me today. It is like saying “congratulations” to someone who is HIV positive on Aids awareness day.”

My 2013 International Womens Day in Kenya started with a man whispering “so will you suck my dick tonight” when I walked by. After that, congratulations did not seem to be in order. I’m looking forward to an international Women’s Day when I can go out to a bar, be introduced to a friend of a friend and he says “Glad to meet you” instead of “How much”.

Then I will celebrate.

International Women’s Day is not Mother’s Day. It is a day for raising awareness of the continued unbalanced power relation between men and women, and for talking about how to change it. Do not diminish it to a pat on the shoulder, “good job (now make me a sandwich)”.
It is a day to be angry. To react.

Just wanted to bring another important aspect in the fight against violence towards women, and that is the need for clear, explicit and feasible legislation that protects women from offenders. In many places of the world this is still one of the key missing parts in the fight against violence, as trials take very long and offenders aren’t penalized as they should.

In the case of Brazil, there is an interesting experience with the "Maria da Penha" Law, which was sanctioned against domestic violence in 2006. Maria da Penha is a woman from Brazil’s Northeast, who was continuously hit by his husband until he left her paraplegic in 1983. The trial took almost 15 years after the husband’s attacks. He ended up in jail only in 2002.

Given the time it took for the Brazilian courts to make a decision, Maria da Penha, who is currently one of the most influential personalities in the fight against violence to women, took the case in 1998 to the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, which is part of the Organization of American States (OAS). The Commission accused Brazil for negligence and for omission to domestic violence in the country. This "forced" Brazil to produce serious legislation against domestic violence, including the Maria da Penha Law, and commit itself to establish the institutional scheme to enforce such rules.

The Maria da Penha Law abolishes that offenders get to substitute their jail time with fees and social work. Another interesting aspect of this law is that violence is not only conceived as physical, but it also considers psychological violence and moral harassment. The law also extends the penalties for offenders. Although there is much to improve in Brazil’s situation regarding violence against women, the country has moved forward in updating key legislation and in carrying enormous efforts in trying to enforce it.

Catalina,

I think you bring up an excellent point about the role of the legal system in regards to changing cultural attitudes around domestic violence and sexual harassment. In Cairo, there has been a significant rise in the number of sexual assault cases since the revolution and many offenders have not been charged with these crimes, even though the current Egyptian law clearly punishes violators with jail time. There is still a gap between the legal culture and the judicial process to the extent that often the police officer or public attorney do no want to associate themselves with cases that are labeled تحرش (harassment).

Personally, I completely agree with the fact that International Women's day does highlight gender inequalities in a way that doesn't actively challenge these roles. However I do believe that just having one day a year that will increase awareness and allows people to think about this issues does make a difference, ever so slightly. Challenging these perspectives cannot just be peeled off like a band-aid, there has to be some time for the wound to heal so that it doesn't scar. Starting with a day for international awareness is one way that discussions around this issues can be brought into the legislative and political bodies that can then design strong policies to implement change. These policies will only work though if there is enough will power and support to enforce them.

Howaida Kamel
Community Manager, Cairo | URB.im

I just want to thank you for the work that you and these communities are doing to address this issue and to make it more visible. It gives me hope to see the talent and the commitment you bring.

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