Monday, April 27, 2009


Throughout my interactions with these two organizations I have encountered the same attitude of hope and the belief that sexual violence can and should be stopped!
Even though the RCC deals with rape and IJM deals with sex trafficking, these are both forms of exploitation of women. This exploitation stems from our patriarchal system of capitalism that is fueled by gendered domination and power.
Both organizations work directly with the individual that is affected and they do not work for their own profit.
I am intensely inspired by the individuals who have given their lives to these organizations and to the cause of eradicating sexual slavery and abuse of women worldwide. Despite the fact that these individuals do not have high paying jobs or wealthy lifestyles they are some of the most joyful and hopeful people I know. They are satisfied in their careers, more so than people I know that make millions per year. They have a wealth of love and compassion within them, instead of a wealth of capital resulting from exploitation.
This is what I want to do with my life and I will continue to look up to these organizations and individuals who are doing so much to end gender-based violence both locally and abroad!

Walk A Mile In Her Shoes

Last Saturday I attended the fundraising event called Walk A Mile In Her Shoes. It was hosted by the Rape Crisis Center and consisted of a mile long walk in which men were encouraged to walk in women's high heel shoes.
Despite my initial thoughts of how it was very sexist to ask the men to walk in 'women's' high heel shoes, I still decided to attend because I knew the event was raising some much needed money for the RCC. My boyfriend and I arrived at Polsky(where the walk was starting) about an hour before the walk began.
During the hour prior to the walk there were a couple of speakers, including a head policeman from a neighboring city. He spoke of his 30 years as a policeman and of the women he encountered who had been raped and sexually assaulted. He emphasized how men need to step out of their hegemonic patriarachal mindsets and help end rape/sexual assault. He also spoke about how a victims life can never be the same after rape, I did not agree with this part of his speech. But overall he was very moving and inspired hope in me that sexual assault can come to an end.
They had a few different little events like a 'dance-off' which was pretty comical. We then started on the mile long walk. Men stumbled around in their heels and people carried signs with slogans such as: end sexual violence, be a real man and stop rape, etc. Cars honked as we walked and it was empowering to walk with a group of people that were opposing this horribly violent act.
We returned to Polsky to view some slide shows on rape statistics and to watch the awards being handed out for the teams that raised the most money. I spoke to Denise, who has been my contact at the RCC, briefly but she was very busy running around with all the other staff mediating the event. A general feeling of hope and joy was felt in the room.
Overall, the walk raised $11,000 for the Rape Crisis Center of Medina/Summit County.
So, despite the many sexist undertones, I think the walk was a succes because it brought together many different men and women and raised a large amount of money to help end sexual assault!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Rape Statistics In The US

Here are some statistics regarding rape in the US. A group that the Rape Crisis Center commonly refers people to is Rape Abuse and Incest National Network(RAINN). I acquired these statistics from RAINN's website.

About Victims
1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men will be a victim of sexual assault in their lifetime.
College age women are 4 times more likely to be sexually assaulted.

Sexual Assault Numbers
In 2007, there were 248,300 victims of sexual assault.
Every 2 minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually

Reporting to Police
60% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police.
Reporting has increased by 1/3 since 1993.

About Rapists
Approximately 73% of rape victims know their
Only 6% of rapists will ever spend a day in jail.

Gender-Based Violence Statistics

Gender-Based violence is an enourmous issue. Here are some statistics regarding the prevelance of gender-based violence.

Millions of girls and women are victims of oppressive violence:

  • Worldwide, one in five women becomes a victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime (U.N.).
  • 80% of transnational human trafficking victims are women and girls (U.S. Department of State).
  • In Uganda, 1 in 5 widows loses all or part of her inheritance through theft by relatives (PLAN).

these statistics are from IJM's website.

The following statistics come from a WHO Multi-country Study on Women's Health and Domestic Violence against Women.

  • The combined prevalence of physical and sexual violence by a non-partner after the age of 15 years ranged from 5% in Ethiopia to 65% in Samoa. Higher levels of non-partner violence were reported in the urban settings than in the provincial settings in all countries except Peru.
  • The proportion of ever-partnered women who had ever experienced physical or sexual violence, or both, by an intimate partner in their lifetime, ranged from 15% to 71%, with most sites falling between 29% and 62%.
  • Japan also had the lowest level of sexual violence at 6%, with the highest figure of 59% being reported in Ethiopia.
  • The proportion of women physically forced into intercourse ranged from 4% in Serbia and Montenegro to 46% in provincial Bangladesh and Ethiopia
  • Nearly one third of Ethiopian women reported being physically forced by a partner to have sex against their will within the past 12 months. This high rate of forced sex is particularly alarming in the light of the AIDS epidemic and the difficulty that many women have in protecting themselves from HIV infection.

IJM Cambodia Director of Aftercare

Here is an article posted on the IJM website. It is written by Christa Hayden, IJM Cambodia Aftercare Director. I feel this is somewhere I would want my life to lead me. I love how they focus on building relationships with the girls who are rescued. They give time and emotional support to the young women, instead of just throwing them to an agency or other organization(which is what governmental agencies tend to do a lot.) The importance of relational communications cannot be over emphasized. Without relationships we do not learn from people who are actually experiencing the issues, but the issues are turned into a more black and white, solvable equation which never works. Standardized fixes for issues lead to a desensitizing and never truly apply to all situations.

"Safety, hope, and rest"

By Christa Hayden, IJM Cambodia Aftercare Director

IJM Cambodia Aftercare Director Christa Hayden enjoys time with two other survivors receiving ongoing support at one of IJM’s aftercare partner homes.

I am sitting on the hard tile floor of a Cambodian jail, trying unsuccessfully to light a mosquito coil while wiping sweat out of my eyes, shooing ants away and swatting at mosquitoes. It has been several years since I graduated with my master’s degree in social work. I definitely cannot remember any of my professors lecturing on mosquito management in Southeast Asia! However, I have three small teachers with me, and they all pitch in to show me the fine art of keeping a mosquito coil lit and balanced on its tiny metal tray.

My wise teachers are actually three Cambodian girls, ages nine, 10 and 12, whom we helped rescue tonight from sexual slavery. International Justice Mission investigators and Cambodian national police worked together to free these children from months of torture, forced drug use, rape and pornography at the hands of a foreign pedophile and the local female traffickers in his employment.

Where the road to healing begins

In Cambodia, IJM’s mission is to mobilize efforts to suppress systems of commercial sexual exploitation of minors in Cambodia through assisting investigations and prosecutions, and by training Cambodia’s anti-human trafficking police. My aftercare colleagues and I work together to welcome children upon their rescue, provide crisis care while they undergo police interviews and partner with governmental social service officials to place the children in aftercare homes that provide specialized care for sexual violence survivors. After placement, we monitor the children’s recovery, prepare them to testify at trial and act as a professional resource to our aftercare partners.

A small space of release, freedom and acceptance has been created in the middle of a police station.
At this moment, our aftercare intern is creating a sense of normalcy and play for the children as they spend the evening coloring, teaching each other songs and decorating the gray walls with colorful stickers. She is sprawled on a mat on the hard floor, drawing pictures with the two youngest rescued girls, an activity that can cross any language barrier. The girls are teaching our intern some basic Khmer words and they break into uncontrollable giggles when they hear her use the Cambodian language. The oldest child and one of my Cambodian colleagues are intently talking in a corner of the room about the child’s experiences, pain, feelings, fears and hopes; tears flow, hands are held, and conversation is often interrupted by times of emotional silence. A small space of release, freedom and acceptance has been created in the middle of a police station.

“Safety, hope and rest”

For the next three days, my teammates and I will take turns staying day and night with these three girls throughout their interviews with local authorities, as this time is critical to documenting their case so that authorities can effectively prosecute their abusers. These children’s young lives have already been filled with violence, torture and betrayal beyond imagination. Shame, exhaustion, grief, loss and confusion fill their hearts and minds, and seep out through their tears as they talk with us and go through interviews with the police. The most important priority of these first few days is to provide the children with a sense of safety, hope and rest. The long road of healing and restoration will continue as the girls are placed in a loving, high-quality aftercare home.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve these children, work in this country with passionate Cambodian teammates and partner with innovative and committed aftercare organizations. International social work has challenged me to provide care with more adaptability and flexibility, trained me to think more broadly and creatively, and has sharpened my professional skills and cross-cultural competency. The lessons I have learned in Cambodia fill me with passion, energy and a renewed commitment to serving the hurting and the oppressed around the world. It is an honor to know these children and a joy to walk with them as they begin the long journey toward healing and wholeness.

These reflections first appeared in a different form in Catalyst, the newsletter of the North American Association of Christians in Social Work.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


About IJM (from IJM's website):
International Justice Mission is a human rights agency that secures justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. IJM lawyers, investigators and aftercare professionals work with local officials to ensure immediate victim rescue and aftercare, to prosecute perpetrators and to promote functioning public justice systems.

IJM has a four-fold purpose which includes:
1. Victim Relief
2. Perpetrator Accountability
3. Victim Aftercare
4. Structural Prevention

The area where I would most be interested in working is the Victim Aftercare. Through my interactions and information gained about IJM I hope to understand better how this Aftercare occurs and to possibly pursue that in my future careers.

A very important fact that IJM focuses on is that "more children, women and men are held in slavery right now than over the course of the entire trans-Atlantic slave trade: Millions toil in bondage, their work and even their bodies the property of an owner."
This is a startling statistic that I try to make known to everyone I speak to about IJM.

My parents are in Washington DC this weekend at IJM's "Global Prayer Gathering." I will write a blog about their experiences with the organization and at this event!

My Interactions with the RCC

Denise has been the main person who has taught me a lot about this organization and helped me understand more about sexual assault and the healing that can take place. Denise struck me with her passion and how much she seems to care about people. She asked me about my life and seemed interested in who I was and what I had experienced. I could ask her any question and she was adamant and tried to answer to the best of her abilities. She was knowledgeable on the subject and personable as well. Any time I have contacted the RCC I have been met by someone who cares deeply and is more than willing to help with any question or issue I might have.

The amazing attitude and feeling of hope I get from the staff has helped me feel more hopeful about the situation with sexual assault and violence against women. It helps to know that there are a lot of people out there willing to help and be supportive to each individual survivor. I am excited to experience more with this organization, I plan to attend support groups, and to continue to build relationships with the staff, hopefully in the future to lead to volunteer work with them.