Penn State Pledges to Combat Sexual Violence
Too little, too late? Smart politically? Whatever the reason, a glimmer of light is coming out of State College, PA. Penn State has pledged $1.5 million to prevent sexual violence. The beleaguered university is collaborating with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR) and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) which will share their expertise and resources with Penn State in a three-year partnership.
“We value [the university’s] pledge to support efforts in prevention, advocacy, education, and treatment,” said Delilah Rumburg, chief executive officer of both PCAR and NSVRC. “This is a unique opportunity to work together to end sexual violence.”
Referring to former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, accused of sexually abusing at least nine young boys, and allegations that community leaders did not take appropriate actions when informed, Rumberg said, “This case is not unique. We know that adults see or hear things that make them uncomfortable, or may even have a child disclose sexual abuse, but they don’t get involved. We want to prevent abuse by equipping people with information, skills and resources.”
The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape represents 51 sexual assault centers annually serving 30,000 men, women and children affected by sexual abuse in Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. Founded by PCAR in 2000, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center identifies, develops and disseminates resources regarding all aspects of sexual violence prevention and intervention. NSVRC activities include training and technical assistance, referrals, consultation, systems advocacy, and coordinating Sexual Assault Awareness Month and other national events. To learn more, visit www.pcar.org and www.nsvrc.org.
Sexual Aftershock Rocks Haiti
Since the earthquake that devastated Haiti two years ago, the rise in sexual violence in displacement camps has been well documented. But another face of post-earthquake Haiti has emerged as a pressing issue: the sexual exploitation of displaced women and girls. That is the conclusion of an important new report, Analyzing Sexual Exploitation among Women and Girls in Haiti.
The unraveling of Haiti’s already fragile social safety net—from a lack of economic opportunity to the loss of community and family structures— has driven young women and girls into “survival sex”—exchanging sex for money, water, shelter, jobs, education or even a single meal. The report authored by MADRE, the Commission of Women Victims for Victims (KOFAVIV), the International Women’s Human Rights Clinic at the City University of New York School of Law, the Global Justice Clinic at New York University School of Law and the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies at University of California Hastings College of the Law, reveals that there is an epidemic of sexual exploitation of displaced Haitian women and girls.
Following the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that rocked Haiti on January 12, 2010, hundreds of thousands of people were killed and millions were displaced. Displacement camps sprung up in and around Port-au-Prince. Overcrowded and with little security, flimsy shelters and almost no privacy, incidents of rape and sexual violence increased exponentially. Left with no way to earn an income and a stark lack of alternatives, increasing numbers of women and girls in the camps turned to survival sex and were made vulnerable to sexual exploitation. That fact should come as no surprise since a rise in sexual violence and sexual exploitation in abusive conditions after disaster is common. Examples abound: Somalia after the famine, Sri Lanka after the tsunami and in Pakistan after the floods.
“Survival sex,” defined in the report as the exchange of sex in circumstances where those exchanging sex for survival lack other options, has been treated as distinct from rape given the perception of choice in engaging in transactional sex. But, the report say, for many displaced Haitians engaging in survival sex, the decision is not a result of free choice.
Analyzing Sexual Exploitation among Women and Girls in Haiti is based on interviews with displaced women between 18 and 32 who have either engaged in sexual exchange themselves or know someone who has. Interviewees and organizations alike said they recognize that economic disempowerment is the principal factor making women and girls vulnerable to sexual exploitation. Few jobs are available, and those that are rarely generate enough income for women to provide for themselves and their families.
“Survival sex will not end until Haitian women and girls can access what they need to live,” said Margaret Satterthwaite, Faculty Director of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at New York University School of Law. “Haitian women want economic opportunities and the capacity to access basic resources. The international community should work closely with the Haitian government to create jobs, extend microcredit to women, and provide free education to all.”
Helping Men With Psychotherapy
Assisting men in psychotherapy is the theme of the third national Psychotherapy with Men Conference this June in New York City. Keynote addresses by Dr. James O’Neil of the University of Connecticut (“Helping Men with Their Gender Role Conflicts in Psychotherapy”) and Dr. Douglass Haldeman of Seattle, Wash. (“Gay Therapists, Straight Clients: Power, Privilege, and the Psychology of Men”) will be augmented by presentations from 15 of the nation’s leading authorities on men and psychotherapy. The conference will be held on June 9, at the Lincoln Center Campus of Fordham University. For details, visit the conference website at www.fordham.edu/PMC.
Men with A New Kind of Strength
Fathers and sons, coaches and players, police officers and civic leaders. Who are the men with a “new kind of strength” who have decided that violence against women is not just a women’s issue? Who are the men who have taken action in their communities to advocate for lasting change? Viewers will meet them in A New Kind of Strength, a new documentary short weaving together a historical perspective with the voices and experiences of men who have witnessed violence against women, including Joe Torre, former New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers manager, and former Nashville, Tenn. Police Lieutenant Mark Wynn. And, say producers, Cindy Waitt, Alan Heisterkamp, and Kit Gruelle, A New Kind of Strength includes the voices of other men who have stepped forward to challenge domestic and sexual abuse who remind us “what we all lose when we allow violence against women to continue.”
Well suited for trainings and community awareness programs in a wide variety of settings, A New Kind of Strength is a collaboration among the Waitt Institute for Violence Prevention (www.waittinstitute.org) Astraea Productions, Markay Media, and Shelter From the Storm Productions.
For nearly half a century women have done the heavy lifting in organizing to respond to the needs of domestic and sexual violence victims and survivors. For three decades, more and more men have recognized the critically important role they can play in stopping the violence and reinterpreting what it means to be a man of strength and integrity. By challenging accepted notions of masculinity, the producers believe, these men are presenting new images of a different kind of strength, especially for boys who are just forming their identity as men, and who are beginning to define their relationships with women. Funded by the Waitt Institute for Violence Prevention, to learn more, go to www.privateviolence.com.
Sports Illustrated Doesn’t ‘Suit’ You?
Much like the late Joe Paterno, Sports Illustrated does the bare minimum when it comes to criticism of its annual soft porn swimsuit issue. The Letters section of issues leading up to publication in February bears a note which says in part: “If you’re a subscriber and would prefer not to receive [the swimsuit issue], call our customer service center toll free at 1-866-228-1175 …SI will extend your subscription.”
According to a report on CNBC.com, the issue generates seven percent of advertising revenue and is the single best-selling print issue in Time Inc.’s stable of magazines. On average, CNBC.com reports, it sells more than one million copies at newsstands. How many SI subscribers opt out? “…[l]ess than one percent…”
Interested in letting SI know how you feel before next year, email: letters@SI.timeinc.com or fax 212.467.2417.
Ellen Pence: 1948-2012
It is not easy to make an audience roar with laughter while lecturing on domestic violence and homicide, but such was the compelling humor of activist Ellen Pence, who died of breast cancer in January. She was 63. A pioneer in creating and promoting innovative strategies to deal with domestic abuse, the training she developed, and the accessible and motivational way in which she delivered it, changed the way violence towards women and children in the home is viewed.
In an obituary in The Guardian, Ellen Pence was described as having the goal of teaching offenders to accept responsibility for their actions and to desire change. In 1980 she founded the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project widely known as the Duluth model—named after the Minnesota city where it was developed (theduluthmodel.org). Based on a multipronged approach in which police, probation offices, courts, social services and women’s (and later men’s) advocacy projects work together to assess risk, protect victims and deal effectively with abusers, the strategy largely remains a blueprint for programs in the United States and other parts of the world.
Pence maintained that abusive men can change, especially if those working with them have the appropriate training, skills and tools. She created the program to teach those acting abusively to accept responsibility for their actions and to desire change. The Duluth model runs in several countries as an alternative to, or as part of, mandatory sentencing for domestic violence offenses.