united nations

Global Lessons from the UN Study on Violence Against Women in Asia

Cover of UN Report "Why do some men use violence against women and how can we prevent it?"by Jarrah Hodge

A new study on violence against women in Southeast Asian countries, by UN Joint Programme Partners for Prevention, is making headlines around the world.

Although the study also has interesting findings on non-sexual, physical violence against women, the findings that seem to have shocked most people were the high numbers of men admitting to rape.

Just under a quarter of men interviewed in the study countries (Cambodia, Papua New Guinea, China, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Sri Lanka) admitted to raping a woman or girl. It’s important to note the percentage varied widely between countries, from a low but still troubling 11% in Bangladesh to over 60% in Papua New Guinea. More than half the men said they committed their first assault between the ages of 15 and 19 and nearly half had raped repeatedly.

It’s safe to assume one of the reasons men were so open to admitting assault was that the questions never used the word “rape”. Instead, researchers asked if men had ever: “forced a woman who was not your wife or girlfriend at the time to have sex,” or “had sex with a woman who was too drunk or drugged to indicate whether she wanted it.”

About 10 per cent said they have had “non-consensual sex” with a woman who was not their partner, but another 14 per cent admitted it when partners were included in the question.

Less than one quarter served jail time.

So here’s how not to respond to this, white Westerners (with examples from news site comments):

-      ” the study was only done in some of the most backward places on Earth. So it says absolutely nothing about the male of the species.”

-       “and yet we keep letting them come to America on H1B work visas, where the later prey on children.”

-      “Typical Asians, bout time the media reports on these deviants.”

-      ” Dont compare the West to Asia. Ever wondered why all the Asians (Chinese, Indians, Arabs, Pakkis, Koreans etc) are trying to immigrate desperately to the West & not vice-versa ?”

First of all, you can’t make those kind of blanket statements about the region from this (and not just because it’s super racist). The study doesn’t cover all of Southeast Asia, stats varied between countries, and only in Cambodia does the report claim there was balanced geographic representation in the sample.

Second, though there are different issues between and within various countries, there are some common themes that we see happening here. And that means we can’t get on our high, white horse. Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Feminism Leave a comment

UN Turns to Crowdsourcing to Fight AIDS

Crowd Out AIDS logoThe Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) is now a few weeks into an innovative new initiative to develop new policies to combat the AIDS pandemic.

CrowdOutAIDS is a collaborative online project to allow young people (aged 15 – 29) from around the world to engage in conversations with the eventual goal of crowdsourcing a UNAIDS youth strategy. The program is using a variety of online platforms such as Google Docs, Facebook, Orkut, and blogs to widen the discussion. The plan is for the online component to run for two months (until late December).

The process for CrowdOutAIDS will have four steps and currently we’re in the “Share” stage:

The “Share” stage is about talking about what works and doesn’t work in how our communities fight HIV/AIDS. In the first week in the North America, Western Europe, and the Carribbean (English) group, youth talked about how they wanted to be able to lead and turn their ideas into action. According to moderator Allen Kwabena Frimpong:

“There is a lot of ‘lip service’ about youth participation and engagement, but when it comes down to having any real influence over policies affecting young people or how people perceive or treat young people in their leadership – nothing transformative happens.”

UNAIDS realizes that they also need to reach out to youth who do not have access to computers. Gabriel Adeyemo wrote for the CrowdOutAIDS blog about his experience doing outreach to young people in communities in Africa. He tells about his experience in Nigeria:

“More young people shared their experiences on sexual health and reproductive health issues with me.  One of them said he had to wash his condom after sex so that he can re-use it because there are no availability of condoms near-by and in most cases, they can’t request to buy condom because of their age and religious status. In some communities, the prices of condoms are outrageous which makes young persons wash and re-use them.”

For those of us in Canada who have regular internet access, the only cost to participate is taking a few minutes online. To get involved in the North America, Western Europe, and the Caribbean discussion (English) on Facebook, go to: https://www.facebook.com/pages/CrowdOutAIDS-North-America-Western-Central-Europe/207451279324304. And you can find information on getting involved in other regions here.



Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Politics 2 Comments